Ofsted warns against homeschooling 'simply to resolve difficulties in schools'

15 October 2019, 08:42

Ofsted has found parents remove children from schools as a last resort
Ofsted has found parents remove children from schools as a last resort. Picture: PA

By Sylvia DeLuca

Children are being taken out of school as a last resort to be home educated due to breakdowns in relationships with schools, inspectors warn.

For many families, home education is not a preferred choice but is seen as "the only option for them" due to dissatisfaction with schools, an Ofsted report has found.

Special educational needs, medical and behavioural difficulties are among the main reasons why pupils are being moved out of schools, the inspectorate said.

Chief inspector Amanda Spielman said children should not switch to home education "simply to resolve difficulties in schools".

Some school leaders reported that parents moved their child to home education to stop them being excluded.

Some parents also homeschool their children due to the possibility of being fined or prosecuted for a child missing school, Ofsted says.

The report also says that some families had tried other schools, but they were unsuitable, or moves were unsuccessful.

It said a few moved their child to home education despite not wanting to or being scared to do so.

A homeschooling mom reads to her children at home
A homeschooling mom reads to her children at home. Picture: PA

Ofsted warns that the length of time for a child to be moved to home education can be very short.

"The period between a parent finding out about the possibility of home education and their child leaving school can be as little as one day," inspectors said.

Schools and councils are also "rarely" told about a child moving to home education before they are taken out of class.

Ms Spielman, said: "Home education is a legitimate parental choice and can be a positive decision when parents are well equipped to provide a good education.

"Schools, local authorities and parents need to work together before such a decision is made, to make sure that home education is genuinely in the interests of children and not just the best thing for schools or parents.

"It's vital that parents are fully informed about the alternatives, and that they understand all the implications and costs of home educating their child."

The small-scale study was based on research with families, schools and councils in the East Midlands.

It investigated why children move to home education from secondary school and suggested that as of autumn last year, there were an estimated 58,000 children educated at home, up around 27% on the previous year.