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Volume 633: debated on Monday 11 December 2017

7. If she will make an assessment of the adequacy of local authorities’ oversight of the education and wellbeing of children who are home-schooled. (902849)

Local authorities have the power to ensure that children being educated at home by their parents are well educated and safe, but I am not confident the power is being used properly everywhere. That is why the forthcoming consultation on revised guidance for authorities and parents is so important. Every child needs a good education, including those who are home-schooled.

Has the Department made any assessment of the skills that parents need to home-educate a child successfully?

Certainly there are some very good examples of home education being delivered, in some cases by qualified teachers, but it is important that home education is not, for example, used as an alternative to exclusion or, indeed, because of the lack of provision of correct special educational needs. We are very much on the case.

Many Traveller children are home-schooled, yet only 4% go to university, compared with 43% nationally. The race disparity audit showed Traveller children having the worst educational outcomes of any group, so will my hon. Friend meet me to discuss how we can ensure that Traveller children access education like every other child in the UK?

Certainly Traveller children are the outliers in many of the statistics that we see. Local authorities have no specific power or duty to monitor the quality of home education, although their duty to identify children who may not be receiving suitable education enables them to make informal inquiries and start a process that can, but seldom does, end in a school attendance order.

Does the Minister agree with the chief inspector of schools, Amanda Spielman, that so-called off-rolling, which includes home-schooling and alternative provision off site, is one of the big scandals in our education system? The Institute for Public Policy Research estimates that 48,000 children are now off-rolled. What will the Government do to give local authorities the powers and capacity to deal with this issue, and to force multi-academy trusts to stop off-rolling people in the pursuit of standards?

That is certainly against the admissions code. As I have already said, I am not satisfied that these rules are being applied properly on every occasion. That is why we will soon consult on revised guidance for parents and local authorities, with the aim of clarifying how local authorities can take effective action when children are not served well by home education.