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INCREASED: Home schooling numbers jump by 300 in just two years

INCREASED: Home schooling numbers jump by 300 in just two years

A report claimed Leeds saw an increase of more than 300 in the number of children and young people registered as electively home educated

The number of children being home schooled increased by more than 50 per cent in just two years, according to Leeds City Council officers.

A report, set to be discussed by a committee of councillors next week, claimed Leeds saw an increase of more than 300 in the number of children and young people registered as electively home educated – from 599 in 2019, to 907 by the end of the 2020/21 academic year.

The paper added that this has largely been driven by unusually high increases in parents choosing to home educate younger primary-age children during the pandemic.

The numbers will feed into an ongoing inquiry into the practice of off-rolling and elective home education in the city.

Concerns had previously been expressed by politicians and education experts that some parents may have been pressured by schools into registering underachieving pupils as electively home-educated (EHE), so their exam results wouldn’t appear on school records.

Leeds City Council officers, however, believe much of the increase during the pandemic was driven by anxieties related to the pandemic.

The report stated: “In the Autumn term of 20/21 academic year there were 377 new notifications to the EHE team. The reason given for becoming EHE was predominantly Covid related with 114 of all reasons provided as Covid.

“Eighty Four parents preferred not to give a reason for their decision. 59 had a belief in EHE and 33 identified stress and anxiety as a reason.”

It added that, of the 95 new EHE notifications during the Spring term, 21 parents would identify Covid as a reason.

It added: “As outlined above, the reasons for parents choosing to home educate have changed over the last year. A third of all new notifications received in 2020/21 are recorded as ‘prefer not to
say/unknown’, followed by 22 per cent stating ‘Covid-19’.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the number of children who have become electively home educated. During the Autumn term 2020/21, there was a fear amongst parents about the virus. However, during this period the quality of the education plans that were being returned was of a higher quality, more detailed and focussed.

“It is evident that stress and anxiety were a feature for children and young people, and this was probably perpetuated by the global pandemic and the lack of surety about the future. Parents wanted to keep their children close and safe from the unknowns of the virus.”

It also claimed an unusual number of parents decided not to state a reason for taking their children out of mainstream school settings, adding: “We have noted again this year that many children had previous low attendance at school, and some are below expected levels of attainment for their years. Further analysis is being undertaken as caseworkers contact the families following the usual protocols.”

The paper will be discussed by Leeds City Council’s children and families scrutiny board on Wednesday, November 3.

 

Words: Richard Beecham, Local Democracy Reporter


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