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Councils should enter homes to check if schooling is illegal or extremist, LGA says

Councils should be able to enter family homes to check up on home schooled children, the LGA has said amid concerns that home-schooled children are being sent to unsafe, illegal or extremist schools.

Currently, councils only have the power to enter homes and other premises if they have specific concerns about a child’s welfare.

The LGA also said there should be a legal requirement for parents to register home-educated children, and a stricter definition of ‘school’ to make it easier to shut down illegal or unsafe schools housed in dangerous buildings.

Cllr Richard Watts, chair of the LGA's children and young people board, added: “Councils fully support the rights of parents to educate their children in the best way that they see fit, and have no intention of interfering with the education of thousands of children whose parents take their home education responsibilities extremely seriously.

“However, 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.

"We also need to know that where there are concerns, the right regulations are in place so that Ofsted and the Department for Education can close illegal schools swiftly."

Last year, FOI requests by the BBC showed that the number of home-educated children had increased by 65% since 2009 to over 36,500.

This led to fears that the children may be being taught in illegal schools, which have been found to be run in unsafe buildings and, in some cases, teach extremist views.

The actual number of home-educated children may also be higher, since the figures only reflect children who have been withdrawn from school, not children who were never in the schooling system or left it after moving to a different area.

Cllr Watts argued that placing a legal requirement on parents to register their children if they are home-educated would “prevent children from ‘disappearing' from the oversight of services designed to keep them safe”.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “It is unacceptable for any child of compulsory school age not to be receiving a suitable education. We recognise parents may choose to home school their children and many do a good job, but it must be of a suitable quality. That’s why we have taken steps to ensure the system is as robust as it can be when it comes to protecting young people, while at the same time safeguarding the rights of parents to determine how and where to educate their children.

“We are also clear that unregistered schools are illegal and unsafe and we are cracking down on them. We have announced an escalation of Ofsted investigations into unregistered schools, with additional inspectors dedicated to rooting them out, a new tougher approach to prosecuting them and a call to local authorities to help identify any settings of concern.”

The then education secretary Nicky Morgan allegedly asked officials to conduct a review of home schooling last year amid concerns about a lack of oversight of the sector.

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Sal   19/09/2016 at 14:59

This is more disgusting a scare mongering by news articles. Councils want the power to force entry to someone's home with out proof of any crime or wrong doing? What happened to innocent before guilty? The current law allows children to be protected by social services and if there seems to be an educational deficit, Local education advisors can intervene. Setting up costly over bearing red tape to tie down the majority of normal extremely hard working parents who are giving their all to educate their children to a high standard. Why should compulsory registration improve standards when schools that are registered and monitored and still turn out children that have a sub standard education, child abuse and extremism happens with school children. So until the councils sort out their current sort out all they have to deal with the school system, they should leave the home educators alone! My son, who was never registered, never policed by council officials, has just won an award for outstanding academic achievement, he is off to a top Law School this week. I am certain with council interference we wouldn't have done so well!

Elvira   20/09/2016 at 19:42

The LGA seems to have forgotten that in law it is the parents' duty to educate their children, not the State, in the form of the LA. Perhaps Mr Watts hasn't read the guidelines - available here

Bob Smithson   24/10/2016 at 22:36

It is no wonder that more people are homeschooling, in nations around the world. Home-based education is one of the last islands of liberty in the United States and other nations regarding freedom of thought (for parents and children) and for parents taking care of one’s own child’s body and mind and spirit. In addition, research continually shows that the home educated perform as well or better than those in institutional schools on measures of academic achievement, social and emotional development, and success in college and adulthood. See plenty of research at www. nheri. org Further, parent-led home-based education can be much more enjoyable, humane, relaxed, customized, without bullying, without unnecessary stress, and open to more family time than conventional institutional schooling that is driven by the State’s or elitists’ (professors, policymakers) or other controllers’ own opinions about what is best for your child or the advancement of the State.

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