Home-Schooled Students Lack Access To GCSEs, Rage MPs

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MPs have voiced their anger at the lack of access to GCSEs for home-schooled students | Alamy

Children who are educated at home face an unreasonable lack of access to examinations such as GCSEs, according to a parliamentary committee.

MPs said home-schooling families are hit by a postcode lottery when it comes to the amount of support they receive from English local authorities.

The Commons Education Committee said it was "not reasonable" that some young people were struggling to sit national tests and called for a duty to be placed on councils to provide access to examination centres.

Although it said the state should not routinely cover the costs of home-schooling it did call for examination entry fees to be met from public funds.

MPs urged the Department for Education (DfE) to audit local authorities' home education performance and review the guidance they are given.

Committee chair Graham Stuart said: "We support the right of parents to educate their children at home and accept that home educating families should bear the costs of that provision.

"We don't think it reasonable, however, that it should be so difficult to access an exam centre nor that families should pay exam costs on top of everything else. Everyone else gets to take GCSEs and home-educated children should do so as well."

The committee's inquiry heard "some worrying evidence" that some local authorities were failing to meet the needs of children with special educational needs as fully as they would for schooled children.

Stuart added: "Local authorities have a duty to see that provisions in statements are met regardless of whether or not the young person attends school.

"They should seek to support families in meeting their children's needs, not withdraw altogether. We urge the DfE to investigate these issues and to make the responsibilities of local authorities very clear in this and other areas concerning home education."

A DfE spokesman said: "The Government respects the right of parents to educate their children at home. However, we believe the current arrangements strike the right balance between the responsibilities of the parent and the state. We will respond to the committee in due course."

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Home-schooled children face 'postcode lottery' of official support, say MPs