London Councils recognises that the majority of children who are home educated do not present any risk factors in terms of vulnerability, such as safeguarding or radicalisation. However, the current lack of legislative and regulatory oversight makes it very difficult to ensure that vulnerable children who are being home-educated are identified and protected from harm.
Therefore, we welcome the government’s proposal to introduce a duty for local authorities to maintain a register of home educated children as well as the duty for parents and carer to supply information to the local authority about the education children in their care are receiving. However, we would urge the government to also include mandatory monitoring as part of any proposed legislation.
As with the issue of registration, current efforts by local authorities to monitor home educated children are only as effective as they can be with parents who are willing to engage with them. Some parents do not want local authorities to carry out any monitoring visits, and this makes it difficult for the local authority to know whether children are receiving a good quality education or whether they are suffering or are likely to suffer harm.
London Councils feels that without legislative change to ensure mandatory annual monitoring visits, alongside mandatory registration, the current arrangements for elective home education will never be fully effective in ensuring that all children are protected from harm and receiving a good standard of education.
It is important that local authorities are fully funded to meet any additional duties around elective home education, as local authority budgets are already significantly constrained.
Read our full response to the DfE's consultation here.