The LGA has raised concerns that councils do not currently have the powers to fulfil their duties to ensure home schooled children are receiving a suitable education. In particular, this is because they have no powers to enter homes or to see children to satisfy themselves that this is the case.
- Recent research, including from the Department for Education, has highlighted an increasing trend of children and young people missing out on access to mainstream schools. Councils are concerned about the growing use of school exclusions, and research commissioned by the LGA found that there had been a 67 per cent increase in the number of children permanently excluded from school between 2014 and 2018 .
- These figures provide evidence of a decrease in the levels of inclusion in mainstream schools, which is being fuelled by shortfalls in funding and pressure from school league tables. We are calling on the Government to set national expectations on the importance of mainstream inclusion, particularly in relation to children with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND).
- More children with special needs are now being educated outside of mainstream schools. Statistics show that 52 per cent of the 271,165 children and young people with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) were placed in state special schools, alternative provision, or independent and non-maintained special schools in 2019.
- Local Fair Access Protocols, overseen by councils, make sure that children without a place, including those who have been excluded from schools, are quickly placed in suitable settings. These local arrangements rely on goodwill of partners and councils cannot direct academies to accept pupils, even if the local decision is that they are the most appropriate school for a particular pupil. Councils should be given the power to protect the interests of all pupils, including the power to direct academies and free schools to admit pupils that need a place.
- The LGA has raised concerns that councils do not currently have the powers to fulfil their duties to ensure home schooled children are receiving a suitable education. In particular, this is because they have no powers to enter homes or to see children to satisfy themselves that this is the case.
- The majority of parents who home educate their children do a good job and work well with their local council to make sure that a good education is being provided. However, we are concerned that not all children are registered as home schooled, particularly where they have never joined the mainstream education system or they have moved to a new area.
- We are calling on the Government to bring forward legislation to support councils in helping to make sure home-educated children receive a high quality of education. Councils need powers to enter the homes of, or otherwise see, children in order to establish whether they are receiving a suitable education and meet their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. New duties on councils must be fully funded.
- The LGA has commissioned research that seeks to understand the factors that are leading to increasing numbers of pupils outside mainstream education, as well as highlighting emerging best practice in identifying, tracking and reducing the numbers of children missing out on access to mainstream education. We expect this research to be published in mid-2020 and would be happy to share further information in due course.