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Concerns raised as home schooling shows a steep rise

A councillor has raised concerns about the rise in home schooling in Cheshire East and the “social and academic impact” it could have on some children.

Alsager’s Coun June Buckley also asked about the extra pressure it placed on the council, (writes local democracy reporter Belinda Ryan).

“What does Ofsted actually think about these home-educated?” Coun Buckley asked at the Cheshire East Council Children and Families Committee meeting.

“If you’re a school, you get ‘Ofsteded’, but people can take their children out of school, and the onus seems to be on the local authority who are providing a service to suddenly provide somebody else to go in and check.”

She added: “Sometimes you need to go to school just to meet other people and learn how to interact.”

Latest available figures show the number of children being home educated because their parents have opted to remove them from school has increased by 11%, from 457 at the end of March to 509 by the end of June.

A report to the committee stated there were a number of reasons, including anxieties around covid.

Director of education Jacky Forster said although the council had managed to reduce the potential number by about 60%, “it’s still been a significant increase”.

She said there was a team of home education advisers who had regular contact with the families and children.

“They will meet with the families to make sure that we’re confident in that work,” said Ms Forster.

“Ofsted have a mixed view. Obviously, it has concerns at times about it, and challenges us about the role we take, and the measures we have to ensure that it’s appropriate education.

“It will look at how we are ensuring that we are confident that (children) are safeguarded and about the welfare of those children, because they’re often hidden children.”

She added: “Where we have any doubts or risks, we would make an appropriate referral to our social care colleagues because they then have statutory powers.”

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