More Hertfordshire parents are opting to home school their children

The most popular reason parents have opted to home educate is 'educational philosophy'

Monday, 25th October 2021, 2:18 pm
Updated Monday, 25th October 2021, 2:20 pm

Increasing numbers of parents in Hertfordshire are opting to teach their children at home, according to the latest data.

Any parent can opt to educate their child at home rather than send them to school - so long as they ensure their child receives 'a suitable education'.

And data - presented to county councillors - has revealed increasing numbers of families in Hertfordshire are opting to teach their children at home.

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More parents are opting to educate their children at home

Although numbers vary depending on the time of year, the data shows that in the last academic year (2020/21) the numbers of children home-educated in the county reached a peak of 2,026 in May.

That's 262 higher than the highest level in 2019/20 - when in June 2020 there were 1,764 pupils educated at home.

And it's 443 higher than the 2018/19 high in June 2019, when there were 1,583 pupils registered.

Data presented to a recent meeting of the full council (October 19) - in response to a question by Liberal Democrat Cllr Mark Watkin - revealed that there were currently 1,734 children registered for 'elective home education', as of August 2021.

That's lower than in June this year - but it's higher than the 1,446 that were registered at the same point last year (2020).

The data - for August 2021 - shows that the most popular reason parents have opted to home educate is 'educational philosophy' - which was cited by 192 parents.

That's compared to 157 who pointed to dissatisfaction with the school system - with a further 20 pointing to a dispute with the school.

Other reasons included attendance difficulties (27), bullying (71), health issues (63) and mental heath issues (93).

Nineteen families said they were opting to home educate because they had not got their school preference.

A significant number of parents - 545 - have no reason recorded for opting to home educate and a further 360 have been recorded as 'other'.

In asking for a breakdown of the reasons given for elective home education, Cllr Watkin had suggested that 'many' parents may have opted to home educate because schools were unable to support their child's special educational needs.

But according to the data, the vast majority of the children (1619) did not have a special educational need.

In a written response executive member for education, libraries and lifelong learning Cllr Terry Douris stressed that parents had a legal duty to provide 'efficient full-time education' that is suitable to age, ability , aptitude and to any special educational needs.

However there is, he said, no legal definition of 'full-time' - and he suggested it may look very different to a school-based education.

He also said that local authorities do not have the power to routinely monitor the home education that is being provided by families.

However, he said, if there was a belief that no suitable education was being provided a notice could be served asking them to prove to them they are doing so.

Acknowledging the trend in the response, Cllr Douris said: "The data provide(sic) in this report demonstrates an increase in families selecting elective home education in Hertfordshire over the past three years. Most cases have no recognised special educational need."