Big rise in Norfolk children being home-schooled
- Credit: PA
Norfolk has seen a significant rise in the number of children removed from school to be home educated during the coronavirus pandemic.
While most parents have been relieved to send their children back to school after months of remote learning at home, Norfolk County Council said there has been a 33pc increase of children registered for home education.
There are 75,668 children and young people now being home educated across England, according to the first school census day of the 2020/21 academic year.
This represents an increase of more than a third from the year before - with parents citing 'health concerns relating to Covid' as the main reason for keeping their children at home.
Between November 2019 and November 2020 the numbers being home schooled in Norfolk rose from 1,439 to 1,925.
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It comes amid fears that vulnerable children are falling through the gaps and about the long-term impact on council services.
A recent Norfolk County Council report into children’s services future finances states: “There has also been a significant increase in the number of parents electing to home educate, which brings additional duties to the authority.
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“It is too early to know how these trends will continue in the medium-term, and how they may translate into increased demand in social work teams and, potentially, for placements in the medium-to-longer-term.
“These risks will continue to be kept under close review.”
The chief inspector of schools in England, Amanda Spielman, said while it could be a “positive choice for some families”, there might be a “minority of children who may be at risk, out of sight of the authorities”.
Former local head Geoff Barton, who is now general secretary of the ASCL headteacher union, said: “It is worrying to see such a large increase in the number of pupils no longer on the roll and, particularly, that vulnerable children could be among them.”
A Norfolk County Council spokesperson said: “Our Services to Home Educators (SHE) team works closely with families to support them in transitioning to home education and providing support and advice.
“The SHE team also works alongside any other local authority welfare, support and care professionals to ensure a joined up approach for families.
“For parents who choose to educate their children at home, continued support will always be provided to help make home education a success.”