'Rapid growth' in number of children being home schooled in Doncaster as education bosses make link with exclusions
Doncaster has seen a ‘rapid growth’ in the number of children being home-schooled – many with special educational needs of disabilities.
A report seen by councillors outlined a broader plan to bring the figure down and include more children into mainstream schools and those specialising in SEND pupils.
Figures show there are currently 634 young people educated at home in Doncaster.
The vast majority of these are in the secondary sector at 421 with no real difference between males and females.
Education bosses have said young people with vulnerabilities such as SEND are ‘over represented’ in these figures.
Statistics has shown that the proportion of young people being home schooled continues to grow nationally – up 32 per cent on the previous year.
Of the 634 who are under the home school system, 95 pupils are from the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) community which is said to be ‘three times more’ than any other council in Yorkshire & Humber.
Around 230 have some SEN needs including three pupils who are known NHS children’s mental health services.
The council employs two officers who have a role in supporting families who offer home education and monitoring the delivery in order to ensure that children have appropriate education but there are legal constraints on the local authority’s power to monitor and enforce.
Martyn Owen, head of education inclusion at Doncaster Council said: "Whilst the proportion of young people who educated at home continues to grow nationally, the rate of growth is also rapid in Doncaster.
"The number of referrals have increased over the last year, with 274 compared to 305 in total last year. Since September, 45 of these have returned to school.
“There has been much debate regarding extending legislative powers for local authorities in regard to intervening where there are concerns about quality of education and safety, but there are still no obligations for parents to co-operate with councils in these situations.
“Central government has announced that, in their view, there are sufficient safeguards in the system and are requiring councils to maintain a register of young people in elective home education.”
Council leaders also wrote to governors from 64 borough schools who were identified as having ‘long- term concerns’ around attendance and identified them as places ‘requiring support’.
The 64 ‘focus’ schools were identified due to their absence being a concern over the last three academic years. But 31 out of the 64 of these schools made immediate improvements in their overall attendance figure.