Children ‘falling off the grid’ in the tens of thousands amid surge in pupils leaving mainstream education

UK, February 05, 2019: The number of children being taken out of school to be home educated has surged in recent years, prompting calls for greater supervision of youngsters not in mainstream education according to reports published in

The children’s commissioner warned that 60,000 children, many of whom are vulnerable or have special educational needs, are permanently out of school and therefore effectively “off the grid”.

Research by Anne Longfield shows the number of children who are known by councils to be home educated was 27 per cent higher in 2018 than in 2017, and has risen by 20 per cent in each of the last five years – doubling since 2013-14.
 The commissioner warned that while some parents make an informed decision to home educate and provide their children with a high-quality education, a growing number of families feel they have no choice but to home educate because the school cannot cater for their child, and are struggling without help.
Separate research from a Channel 4’s Dispatches documentary to be aired on Monday reveals that one in five children withdrawn from school has special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), and that 88 per cent of councils are worried about off-rolling, where schools move difficult-to-teach pupils off the school register to boost performance data.

“Many of these children are very vulnerable, have special educational needs, or are unable to cope with a ‘one size fits all’ school system. Schools should be for all children, including those with complex needs and those who struggle academically,” said Ms Longfield.

The report found that some schools were making more than 15 referrals into home education a year. In Hackney, there was a 94 per cent rise in home schooling and in Newham the figure stood at 176 per cent. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, Hackney’s academies saw a 238 per cent increase of children moving into home education.

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