Register proposed for children not currently educated in schools

The government has stated that all children not currently attending mainstream school should be placed on a register, explaining that this would allow them greater opportunities

Damian Hinds, the education secretary, has launched a proposal for all children not being educated in schools to be placed on a register.

The aim is to compost a clear picture of where children are if they are not attending school.

It’s estimated that around 60,000 children are educated at home, but that number may be rising by as much as a quarter each year.

A register of children not in school would, according to the Department for Education, transform a local council’s capacity to identify and intervene where the standard of a child’s education isn’t good enough or, in rare instances, where they are at risk of harm.

It will also help the authorities spot young people who may be receiving a solely religious education, attending an unregistered school or not receiving an education at all.

Hinds said: “The term ‘home education’ has now acquired a much broader meaning than it used to. It is now a catch-all phrase, used to refer to all children not in a registered school.

“So whilst this does include those actually getting a really good education at home, it also includes children who are not getting an education at all, or being educated in illegal schools where they are vulnerable to dangerous influences – the truth is, we just don’t know.

“As a government, we have a duty to protect our young people and do our utmost to make sure they are prepared for life in modern Britain.

“That’s why this register of children not in school is so important – not to crack down on those dedicated parents doing an admirable job of educating their children in their own homes, but to prevent vulnerable young people from vanishing under the radar.

“Under the plans, it will be parents’ responsibility to register their child if they are not being taught in a state-funded or registered independent school.

“The government is also consulting on proposals that would require local authorities to provide support such as teaching resources or financial contributions to exam fees – at parents’ request.

“Parents who choose to teach their children at home have often made huge sacrifices – even giving up their careers – so that they can do what is best for their families. I want to make those parents’ lives easier and help them provide the best education for their children.

“I also want to hear from home educating parents so we can understand what support they would benefit from and how we can help them and their children flourish.”

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, responded on behalf of the NEU:

“A register that identifies how children are being educated and under what circumstances could help ensure the safety of children and young people and prevent pupils dropping through the system through illegal off rolling from school registers.

“The most effective way for any register to work for the most vulnerable pupils would be for local authorities to manage and lead on the list but only if they are properly funded and resourced to do so.

“Damian Hinds also needs to deal with the school funding crisis that is seriously affecting the ability of schools and colleges to deal with children of all abilities and additional needs. Resources, support and funding are essential to this both within and outside of school.

“We also need an accountability system that does not penalise schools who are working with children with complex needs.”

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