Concerns over rise in home education in Hartlepool
Concerns have been raised over the increasing number of pupils being educated at home in Hartlepool, which has risen by more than 100 in the last seven years.
Hartlepool Borough Council officers noted in 2014 just seven pupils received elective home education, which had risen to 122 by the end of June 2021.
The council Children’s Services Committee committee this week heard increases in 2020 and 2021 appear to have been exacerbated due to Covid-19, however the number already stood at 107 in 2019, up from 65 in 2018.
Amanda Whitehead, council assistant director for education, warned they expect a further rise during the next year, and they received five requests on Monday alone.
She said: “There doesn’t seem to be any one reason why we’ve had that jump, I think there’s just a lot of raising awareness and media around that, that it’s something parents can do.”
Officers said the top reason cited for elective home education in the last year was parents choosing to do so due to Covid-19, accounting for 33 children.
Meanwhile 24 children were educated at home due to “parental choice”, 19 due to “general dissatisfaction with school”, and six each for attendance issues, and mental and physical health reasons.
Council officers noted once a parent elects to move to home education there is a three week cooling off period, to explore the reasons for the decision, and see if they will change their mind.
They added once a child goes to elective home education, the school is no longer responsible in providing resources for them, and the education is not subject to Ofsted coverage
Mark Tilling, headteacher at High Tunstall College of Science, said the issue is a national problem facing schools, but noted the rise in Hartlepool is “worrying”.
He said: “The concern is that there are people being educated at home who aren’t getting the right standard, you can’t force yourself into the houses, you can’t force to see what’s going on.”
He added while some families will have an “ethos” to provide good home schooling, this will not be the case for many.
Cllr Brenda Harrison, vice chair of the committee, raised concerns over the impact home education could have on children’s social skills, as well as learning.