‘Give councils the power to monitor home schooling’

Family|September 20th 2016

Local councils have called for additional powers to monitor families who home school their children.

The Local Government Association (LGA) responded to a critical report issued by Ofsted in June, which had blamed “professional incompetence and insufficient resources” for the failure of councils across the country to close down around 150 illegal home schools.

The LGA claims councils simply do not have the legal authority to effectively tackle the issue. Without new legal powers they cannot, for example, enter premises in which they believe illicit  home schooling may be taking place. At present social workers can only do so if they believe a child is in danger.

Parents who do home school their children are not currently required to register this with the local authority – a situation which the LGA also believes hampers efforts to crack down on illegal home schools.

The LGA’s Richard Watts insisted that new powers would not be used to harass the “vast majority” of home schooling parents who do a “fantastic job” and work closely with their local authorities.

But, he explained:

“…in some cases, a child listed as home schooled can, in fact, be attending an illegal school.”

He added:

“If councils have powers and appropriate funding to check up on children’s schooling, we can help make sure children aren’t being taught in dangerous environments, and are getting the education they deserve, while standing a better chance of finding and tackling illegal, unregulated schools more quickly.”

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. Guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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Comments(3)

  1. Douglas Milnes says:

    Unfortunately, this article reads more like it is a out beaurocrats wanting to monitor and control things than anything to do with concern for good education, or caring about children and families.

    Richard Watts might believe that it isn’t about hassling the majority but we have all seen how the imposition of do-gooders ends up being about creating a standard social outlook, often based on collectivist principles: the very thing that many home-schooling parents are trying to escape from.

    Powers already exist to investigate any premises where members of the public congregate, when there is reason to believe that the premises are unsafe. If that is all the fuss about “illegal” schools is about, no further powers are needed.

  2. D says:

    ‘An illegal school’; that’s a new one on me. Like a cross between The Bash Street Kids and Moss’s secret street Countdown club on IT crowd?

  3. Dave says:

    I think the title and content of this article is misleading as it confuses home education with children attending illegal schools ( bbc.co.uk/news/education-36302054 ). Home schooling is a term more commonly used in North America ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeschooling ) The claim that councils need greater powers with regards to home education is not the same as them needing powers to close illegal schools. As can be seen by a basic search “Ofsted [already] have powers to investigate unregistered schools and to prepare case files for prosecution by the CPS” and the fact that “more than 100 suspected illegal schools” have already been identified and “Seven warning notices have been issued to schools in London, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Luton and Staffordshire” means that they are starting to use those powers (set out in gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/492965/Prosecuting_unregistered_independent_schools.pdf). Local Authorities claims that they require a list of home educated children comes up repeatedly (for example: theguardian.com/education/2009/jun/11/home-education-parents-face-tighter-regulation) but the right to home educate is clearly laid out in law ( educationotherwise.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=76&Itemid=2 ) and the arguments for a register for either child protection or other reasons don’t hold water and are regularly dismissed.

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