Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
Home education: a choice or last resort?
Home education is often being chosen by parents of children with complex needs as a last resort.
Children leaving secondary school to be home-educated often have complex needs and some make the move as a last resort rather than a preferred choice, new research by Ofsted has revealed.
Ofsted carried out the study: ‘Exploring moving to home education in secondary schools’ across 7 local authorities in the East Midlands specifically to look at how and why children move from secondary school to home education.
Ofsted’s report, published today, says that special educational needs, medical, behavioural or other well-being needs were the main reasons behind such a move for parents and their children.
Parents, local authorities and schools told Ofsted that, often, there was little or no communication about the decision between parties before the child moved, and alternative options or consideration of what was the best outcome for the child were not always discussed.
Ofsted also found that, in some cases, the process of making the move can take less than a day.
Participants reported that children are often moved to home education to resolve pressures at school. For example, parents may remove their child from school to avoid exclusion or prosecution for non-attendance. Some parents also reported that schools had applied indirect pressure to convince them to move their child to home education.
In the absence of a national framework for support, schools and local authorities have different approaches to providing support to parents.
Some schools reported that they were unsure of their responsibilities once a child moved to home education. This led to a breakdown in information-sharing with the parent that could have helped with their child’s ongoing education.
Parents said that they would have benefited from information and guidance on the financial cost of home education. In addition, parents would have liked to have been told more about where their child could sit external exams.
Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, said:
Home education is a legitimate parental choice and can be a positive decision when parents are well equipped to provide a good education.
However, children should not be moved to home education simply to resolve difficulties in school. Schools, local authorities and parents need to work together before such a decision is made, to ensure that home education is genuinely in the interests of children and not just the best thing for schools or parents. It’s vital that parents are fully informed about the alternatives, and that they understand all the implications and costs of home-educating their child.
The report’s recommendations
Ofsted’s report makes several recommendations for government, schools and local authorities, aimed at supporting the interests of children who may be moving from secondary school to home education, including:
- the DfE should consider the extent to which current legislation and guidance considers children’s views during decisions to home-educate
- schools and local authorities should develop clear processes for working together once they know a parent’s intention to home-educate
- local authorities and schools should be aware that when a school writes a letter to remove a child to home education on behalf of a parent, this may be evidence of off-rolling
- after a move to home education is made, it would be good practice for schools to provide parents with children’s previous classwork
For its part, Ofsted will evaluate carefully the reasons for pupils leaving when pupil movement at a school is unusually high. When Ofsted finds evidence of off-rolling, it will continue to report this clearly and is likely to judge the school’s leadership and management to be inadequate. Where appropriate, and where pupil movement into home education is very high, inspectors will take the views of parents who have moved their children into home education into account in their inspection evidence.
8.30am to 6pm Monday to Friday 0300 013 0415
Latest News from
Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
Half of all private and voluntary sector fostering placements offered by just 6 companies24/07/2020 10:25:00
Ofsted has published statistics on private and voluntary providers of children’s homes and independent fostering agencies (IFAs).
Changes to Ofsted’s post-inspection processes and complaints handling16/07/2020 11:38:00
Ofsted revises post-inspection processes and complaints handling to bring about greater consistency across its work.
Inspection reports are popular with parents15/07/2020 13:15:00
The latest YouGov survey, published on the same day as our annual report and accounts, found that Ofsted's inspection reports are well-received by parents.
Supporting local areas to prioritise and meet the needs of children and young people with SEND09/07/2020 16:15:00
Ofsted and CQC will visit local areas to support strengthening special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) systems in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, before returning to full inspections when it is right to do so.
HMCI commentary: the future of area special educational needs and disabilities inspections09/07/2020 12:43:00
Ofsted's Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, discusses the challenges facing the SEND system, along with Ofsted and CQC’s role going forward.
Ofsted replaces Ofsted Online website08/07/2020 13:15:00
We have closed the Ofsted Online site today as replacement web pages are now fully operational.
Ofsted to visit when schools and colleges return in the autumn07/07/2020 13:15:00
Ofsted will start visiting schools and colleges after the summer holidays to see how they are getting back up to speed, after being closed to most pupils and learners for so long.
HMCI commentary: Our plans for the autumn06/07/2020 12:15:00
Amanda Spielman discusses our planned work in education and social care, as schools and colleges prepare to re-open for all pupils.