Home-schooled Children Register

Education – in the House of Commons at on 27 February 2023.

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Photo of Marie Rimmer Marie Rimmer Labour, St Helens South and Whiston

What progress her Department has made on developing a register of home-schooled children.

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

We support the right of parents to educate their children at home, provided that is suitable. We know that there has been a rise in the number of children off-rolling since the pandemic. We remain committed to introducing local authority registers and will legislate for these as soon as possible.

Photo of Marie Rimmer Marie Rimmer Labour, St Helens South and Whiston

An increasing number of children are being educated at home, partly as a legacy of the covid pandemic. I am sure that many of those children are receiving a good education. However, local authorities still have a duty to ensure that resident children are receiving a suitable education. It is essential that local authorities are notified of children who are being educated at home, but at the moment there is no legal obligation for them to be notified by the parents. Given that we are talking about those children’s futures, will the Secretary of State ensure that any form of register is introduced sooner, rather than later?

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The hon. Lady is right, and this is an issue that the Government take very seriously. The Minister for Schools and the Children’s Commissioner for England recently chaired a roundtable on children missing in education, and we are engaging with local authorities and building a clearer picture through use of data, as well as establishing better attendance data across schools and trusts. We are committed to legislating at the earliest possible opportunity.

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, Chair, Education Committee, Chair, Education Committee

I welcome my hon. Friend’s answer but, as she will know, having a statutory register of children not in school has been a very long-standing recommendation of the Select Committee. I believe that recommendation is supported across the House, so can I urge her to make sure that legislation comes forward at the first available opportunity, delivering on what I think the Secretary of State has already said is her top legislative priority?

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. This is a really important area. As I have said, we are working in the interim to do a lot of things regarding data to make sure that we can keep track of attendance. We are seeing what we can do in the meantime, but I absolutely commit to legislating at the earliest possible opportunity.