UK
21/03/2018 13:14 GMT

Parents Of Home-Schooled Children Praised By Education Secretary

Parents who choose to educate their children at home deserve “appreciation and support”, according to the Education Secretary.

Damian Hinds has paid tribute to mothers and fathers who opt to educate their youngsters outside the school system, arguing that they give “selflessly” of their time, effort and their resources.

But he also warned that schools should not be “pushing” parents to take their child out of school, as MPs raised concerns about the practice of “off-rolling”.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds also suggested that schools should not
Education Secretary Damian Hinds also suggested that schools should not ‘push’ parents to home-educate their child (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

At a Commons education committee hearing, Mr Hinds was asked by the cross-party group of MPs whether the Government’s review of exclusions, announced last week, will examine whether there has been a rise in pupils educated at home after being taken off school registers.

Off-rolling describes the process of removing a pupil from a school’s roll, and concerns have been raised in the past in some quarters about the reasons why that happens, for example there have been suggestions that some schools may be attempting to play the system by “off-rolling” pupils who could negatively affect their performance in annual league tables, or for behaviour reasons.

Committee member Ian Mearns, Labour MP for Gateshead, asked the minister: “In terms of your review on exclusions, will you also look at, within that review, the burgeoning of elective home education, because there’s so much, there’s been a huge growth, in children being electively home-educated having been off-rolled by schools.”

He also said: “It’s quite clear that an awful lot of schools are suggesting to parents that their son or daughter might be better placed somewhere else to avoid a permanent exclusion.”

Mr Hinds replied: “When we talk about home education, home schooling, there is a variety of different circumstances, different types of children that we are talking about, and I first want to, chairman if you’ll indulge me, pay tribute to parents who give so selflessly of their time, their effort, their resources to educate children at home, sometimes who have had a very bad time at school, for all sorts of reasons, and therefore they deserve our appreciation and our support.”

He said that one survey had suggested that the numbers of home-educated children in England had risen from around 37,500 in Spring 2016, to around 45,500 about 18 months later, adding that this is “quite substantial growth” and that there are different aspects to why this is the case.

Mr Hinds agreed that schools should not be “off-rolling” children.

He also said: “Parents of course do have a right to school their children at home, but we don’t want schools to be pushing for that to happen.”