Concerns have been raised that in some cases children are being denied an education, or ending up in illegal unregistered schools prone to radicalisation
The Department for Education said it would bring forward legislation for the long-promised policy at the “earliest” opportunity.
In 2019, the DfE launched a consultation on introducing a compulsory national register of children who are being home educated.
Parents homeschool their children for a variety of reasons, including dissatisfaction with local schools, or because of their political or religious beliefs.
But concerns have been raised that in some cases children receive a poor education, are denied an education, or end up in illegal unregistered schools where they can be subject to threats like radicalisation.
The Covid-19 pandemic caused an explosion in the number of homeschooled children. In November 2021, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services estimated that there was 115,542 children being home educated – a 34 per cent increase since 2019-20. However, it is impossible to be certain of the true number because there is no statutory register.
On Thursday, the DfE said it would “go ahead with the creation of a register for children not in school at the earliest available legislative opportunity”.
“The vast majority of home education is already done well, but particularly in light of the pandemic contributing to a rise in children not being educated in school, the Government will support local authorities to make sure they know where every child is being educated, that it is of the right quality, and that support is offered to home educating families,” the department said.
The Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “While the majority of children already learn in a calm and well-maintained classroom, and some learn at home with dedicated parents, there are areas across the country where high standards are not being met.”
Legislation to create the “first local authority register for children not in school” would “make sure every child gets the start in life they deserve,” he said.
The DfE said the “new duty” on local authorities to maintain a register would “help them spot and support young people in the rare cases they may be receiving an unsuitable education, for example at an unregistered school”.
Many homeschooling parents oppose a register, viewing it as the start of a slippery slope to heavy-handed Government interference.News