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.”
“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.”