A new report released by the Children’s Commissioner for England highlights the lack of systematic oversight for home-educated children in England. It also shows a huge increase in children disappearing from schools to be educated at home, with the numbers more than doubling since 2013.
The Commissioner, Anne Longfield is calling for stronger measures to ensure children are not treated unfairly. Ms. Longfield is also calling for a compulsory register of “off-the-grid” children, and for stronger measures to stop schools ‘off-rolling’ pupils and greater supervision for children being home-educated.
Given the over-representation of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) children in home-education settings this report by the Commissioner is welcome. It proves that poor inspection and regulation by local authorities further disadvantages students upon leaving mainstream education.
The Traveller Movement’s education and advocacy project, funded by Esmée Fairbairn receives frequent requests for support from Gypsy and Traveller parents whose children are bullied or off-rolled, and who are being poorly served within the schooling system. Traveller Movement research in 2017 found that local authorities did not track the attainment of home-educated children, or carry out regular inspections once a child had been taken off roll. This finding was further validated by a legal briefing with support from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which demonstrated that local authorities could potentially be liable for legal action for failing to protect vulnerable children.
Traveller Movement CEO Yvonne MacNamara said:
Once again the issue of elective home education is in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Not only are GRT and other BME communities consistently marginalised in mainstream education, they are virtually abandoned in home education settings. Something has to change. We think legal action may be the only way forward.
M: 0207 607 2002
NOTES TO EDITORS
- The Traveller Movement (TM) is a national community charity dedicated to promoting inclusion and community engagement with the Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities in Britain. For more information see: http://travellermovement.org.uk/
- Traveller Movement’s Education and Advocacy Support: https://travellermovement.org.uk/advocacy-support/education-advice-advocacy-support-unit
- The Children’s Commissioner’s report is available here: https://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/cco-skipping-school-invisible-children-feb-2019.pdf