Headlines: June 17th, 2010

Local authorities need more information about home education and better understanding of it so they can provide effective support for children who are being taught at home, according to Ofsted in a report today. Inspectors, who visited 15 local council areas in England, say that most families are positive about being monitored and guided by local authorities.

In ‘Local authorities and home education’, inspectors say the young people they met were keen to explain what they had gained from being taught at home. Parents who had been given guidance from local authorities were generally positive about the advice and encouragement and said they would welcome more support.

The inspectors say, however, that councils do not have a complete picture of how all the children in their area are educated. They are alerted by schools when parents opt for home education but there is no reliable way to establish how many children never enter the school system. That, the report says, means councils are not always able to offer support or to ensure children are getting suitable education and that their welfare is protected.

The report recommends that parents should have to register their intention to educate their children at home. Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert, said the report showed parents welcomed effective guidance from authorities who understood the challenges they faced. “Local authorities could learn from the good practice it highlights so they are in a better position to support parents and children,” she said and added: “Current legislation around elective home education means it is extremely challenging for local authorities to meet their statutory duty to ensure children have a suitable education.”