Government officials will work with Ofsted to tackle the ‘exploitation’ of home education amid fears children are being ‘radicalised’ by their parents.
The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed it is working with the watchdog to address its “concerns” over home-schooled children after the Independent on Sunday reported that officials were worried about some parents “filling their children’s mind with poison”.
It comes after the prime minister launched a clampdown on illegal religious schools, and after Ofsted identified three cases in Birmingham where pupils were taught a “narrow Islamic-focused curriculum” and had access to “misogynistic, homophobic and anti-Semitic material”.
It also follows a Schools Week report that Neil Carmichael, chair of the House of Commons education committee, called for parents who home-educate their children to be forced to register with councils during a fringe event at the Conservative Party’s annual conference.
Ofsted has been handed extra resources to identify and prosecute the operators of illegal schools, and a senior government source told the Independent on Sunday that for every parent “doing a brilliant job” when it came to home education, there may be someone “filling their child’s mind with poison”.
The source, who admitted the government did not have “reliable figures” to back up its claim, said: “There has always been the freedom in this country for people to educate their children at home.
“Many people do it very well. But we need to know where the children are and to be certain that they are safe.”
A DfE spokesperson said the government was “determined to tackle radicalisation wherever it occurs”, adding that Ofsted had been provided with extra inspectors to “eradicate extremism in education”.
She said: “We are working with them to address their concerns about home education being exploited, while safeguarding the rights of parents to determine how and where to educate their children.”