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More than 700 children taken out of Norfolk schools to be home-educated in one year

More than 700 children were taken out of Norfolk schools to be home-educated in the last academic year, figures show. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

More than 700 children were taken out of Norfolk schools to be home-educated in the last academic year, figures show. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

PA Archive/Press Association Images

More than 700 children were taken out of schools in Norfolk to be home-educated in the last academic year.

Teacher Gary Champion with his son Ptolemy who is being home-schooled. Picture: Victoria PertusaTeacher Gary Champion with his son Ptolemy who is being home-schooled. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Overall the number of home-educated children in the county has risen by 50pc in the past three years.

It follows a national trend which has led to calls for the rules and guidance around home education – for parents, carers and local authorities – to be reviewed.

Figures from Norfolk County Council show that in the 2015/16 academic year there were 1,200 children being home educated in the county.

By 2017/18 this had risen to 1,808 – and the number looks set to grow again this academic year, with 1,339 children listed as home-educated up to November 28.

The number of children being taken out of mainstream education has risen by almost 60pc, from 453 in 2015/16 to 724 in 2017/18.

The council said children could occasionally be recorded more than once, for example if they had a period at school then returned to home education.

While there are many reasons why parents choose to home-educate their children, some suggest the rise could be symptomatic of a growing dissatisfaction with the learning on offer in schools.

In response to the growing number of home-educated 
children nationally, the Department of Education recently asked for views on issues such as registration, safeguarding and monitoring.

There are a variety of reasons why parents and carers choose to home-educate their children. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoThere are a variety of reasons why parents and carers choose to home-educate their children. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A department spokesman said: “There are thousands of parents across the country who are doing an excellent job of educating their children at home. We know, however, that in a very small minority of cases children are not receiving the standard of education they should be or, very rarely, are being put at risk.”

A parliamentary bill looking specifically at the duty of local authorities to home-educated children is due for its second reading in the House of Commons in the New Year.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said the authority had increased the support available for home educating families as more parents opt to home-educate.

“Our aim is to work in partnership with Norfolk’s home-educating families. We quickly make contact with parents who choose to educate their children at home and assess the level of support that should be offered to them.”

‘My son has blossomed since leaving school’

Gary Champion has been home-educating his son Ptolemy, 12, for around five years.

After splitting his son’s learning between school and home since he was in year three, Mr Champion began home-educating Ptolemy full-time in September when he started year eight.

The 42-year-old gave up his job as a high school geography teacher to home-educate his son.

He said: “I feel like my son has really blossomed since he left school. He was losing confidence, school was grinding any enthusiasm out of him for learning and it was not a good fit for him. In primary school I was up for half and half but that does not cut the mustard at high school.”

He said he believed the shift from state-run schools to academies, which do not have to follow the national curriculum, has narrowed the teaching pupils receive.

Mr Champion, from Norwich, has also begun running extra-curricular ‘holistic humanities’ sessions, based around projects and research work. “A lot of school learning is text book orientated and does not address subjects in their entirety,” he said.

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