Schools could be fined if pupils are removed to home education

The government is consulting on whether schools should be fined if pupils are taken off their rolls to be educated at home.

A consultation on home education launched today asks if parents should be forced to register home-educated pupils, and whether schools should face a “financial consequence” if parents withdraw children to teach them at home.

The government wants to clamp down on schools that encourage parents to take disruptive or low-achieving pupils off their books.

The consultation includes both a call for evidence on elective home education and a request for feedback on drafts of two revised guidance documents – one targeted at local authorities and the other at parents.

The call for evidence looks at the registration of children educated at home, how home education provision is monitored, and how home-educating families can be supported.

One of the issues it raises is whether there should be a financial consequence for schools if a parent withdraws a child from school.

It also asks for opinions on the advantages and disadvantages of mandatory registration of children who are educated at home to help monitor the provision made by parents, and what sanctions would be useful if parents failed to register their children as home-educated.

Other points include what can be done to improve access to public exams for children educated at home, what good practice from local authorities already exists for supporting home-educating families, and whether there should be a duty on local authorities to provide advice and support.

Councillor Roy Perry, vice chairman of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said that while councils “fully support” the rights of parents to educate their children however they wish, they need “the powers and appropriate funding” to ensure no child is taught in “unsuitable or dangerous environments”.

“Placing a legal duty on parents to register home-schooled children with their local authority would also help councils to monitor how children are being educated and prevent them from disappearing from the oversight of services designed to keep them safe,” he said.

The consultation was previously mooted in the government’s communities green paper, which was released in early May, and highlighted plans to crack down on cases where children are said to be “home educated”, but are actually attending an unregistered school setting.

The green paper said the DfE intends to explain the respective rights and obligations of LAs and parents more clearly, and to make it easier for LAs to “tackle poor elective home education more effectively and with more confidence”.

Lord Agnew, academies minister, said: “It is right that we should build on the high standards we’ve set in our schools so that every child receives a suitable and safe education – no matter where they are being taught – and that we can act quickly in the rare instances when this is not the case.

“This support for families and local communities will help ensure all children get the education they deserve.”

A survey can be completed on the website and the DfE is also inviting submissions by email or post up until July 2. The results of the call for evidence and the Department’s response will be published online later in 2018.

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