According to a new Ofsted report, students are being pulled out of school to be educated at home with little notice.
Parents are advised that students should not switch to home education simply to solve difficulties in schools.
The report – based on a small study of families in the East Midlands area, found that students with special educational needs, medical needs and behavioural issues were all reasons why children had been moved from secondary school to being educated at home.
Parents “commonly viewed home education as the only option for them”. Some parents had tried their children in other schools, but found these to also be unsuitable or unsuccessful. The report also found that some parents had also moved their child into home education despite not wanting to.
The report warns that in some cases children can be moved to home education on very little notice – “the period between a parent finding out about the possibility of home education and their child leaving school can be as little as one day”. It found schools and councils are “rarely” told about a child switching to home education before they leave school, with some schools only being notified this by a parent’s letter.
The study also considered the issue of off-rolling, which is when students that are considered problematic or academically low-achieving are removed from school rolls.
“Our research did find examples that support other evidence that parents have been coerced into moving to home education.
“For example, one local authority had previously received letters from parents asking to move a child to home education that were written on school-headed paper but signed by parents.”
“Where inspections identify pressure being applied to parents to game the system in the interests of the school, directly or indirectly, we will consider this to be off-rolling.
“Unfortunately, our evidence suggests that letting children go can be an easy option for schools. Participants were aware that schools can also apply pressure to parents or children indirectly.”