MPs to look at 'more active' inspection role in new home education inquiry

MPs have launched an inquiry into home learning which will include looking at the role inspections should play in the future regulation of home educating.

The education select committee has announced today it will be investigating how home-educated children are being supported in their learning and also looking at the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on children educated at home.

It will also look at duties of local authorities, and the potential role for inspections in ensuring standards.

Conservative MP Robert Halfon, committee chair, said while the pandemic has brought a “new focus” on learning at home, “there are thousands of young people who are ordinarily taught outside of a traditional school setting”.

The committee says that figures from March last year suggested that more than 60,000 children were being home educated in England, with the number increasing in recent years.

They say it is likely the number is underreported as parents are not required to register their home-educated children with the local authority.

Halfon added they have to make sure “disadvantaged children are not disadvantaged further still by the system”.

“The previous Committee in the last Parliament highlighted the problem of off-rolling, where young people are removed from school for the benefit of the school rather than the child, and the dangers of the lack of checks on unregistered provision, where some home-educated children may spend time.

“This inquiry provides an opportunity to examine whether local authorities and inspections can play a more active role to ensure every child is safe and not missing out on the chance to climb the educational ladder of opportunity.

“We have to make sure that disadvantaged children are not disadvantaged further still by the system.”

In April 2019, the government published a consultation on proposed legislation concerning children not in school, which included a proposal for a register of children not attending mainstream schools, maintained by local authorities. The government has not published its response.

Halfon added: “A parent will always know what is best for their child but we want to make sure that the right support is in place for home learning to ensure every pupil in the country, whatever their background and wherever they are taught, can receive the education they deserve.”

The committee is inviting written submissions, including on the duties of local authorities and the advantages and disadvantages children may face from home education.

It is also asking for submissions on the role inspection should play in future regulation of home education and the support, including financial support, available for home educators and their children.

The deadline for submissions is November 6.