This year has seen a dramatic increase in the number of children being electively home educated (EHE) due to the impact of COVID-19.
A recent survey by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) found that on school census day, 1 October 2020, 75,668 children and young people were known to be electively home educated. This marks a 38% increase from the same school census day in 2019.
The survey, which received responses from 88% of the 133 local authorities approached, that 25% of those children and young people have become EHE since 1 September 2020.
The ADCS also gathered data on the cumulative total number of EHE children and young people across the 2019/20 academic year. This showed that an estimated 86,335 children and young people were known to be electively home educated at any point during the previous academic year, a 10% increase from the 2018/19 academic year.
Commenting on the findings, Gail Tolley, chair of the ADCS Educational Achievement Policy Committee, said that the increase was due to the pandemic.
‘Local authorities have a duty to ensure that these children are safe and receiving a good education, yet with the significant increase in the number of EHE children and young people since September, our capacity to maintain contact with all of them is severely stretched,’ said Ms Tolley.
‘Many parents or carers have felt the need to remove their child from school due to health concerns over the pandemic and we want to be able to support these families to make sure they are making an informed decision and are equipped to offer a good and broad education to their child/ren.
‘However, without a statutory register it is impossible to know of every child or young person who is being electively home educated. Schools play an important role in safeguarding as they provide a direct line of sight to the child. If a child is taken out of school, it is vital we know that they are in a safe environment and that their needs are being met.’