A national register of home-schooled children has been proposed by the government in a bid to stop vulnerable young people from “vanishing under the radar”.
An estimated 60,000 children are educated at home, according to Department for Education figures, with the number rising each year.
The register – due to be set out by education secretary Damian Hinds on Tuesday – will help local authorities identify where children are being taught if they are not enrolled at a state-funded or registered independent school.
“The term ‘home education’ has now acquired a much broader meaning than it used to,” Hinds said. “It is now a catch-all phrase, used to refer to all children not in a registered school.
“So whilst this does include those actually getting a really good education at home, it also includes children who are not getting an education at all, or being educated in illegal schools where they are vulnerable to dangerous influences – the truth is, we just don’t know.”
The proposals are not an attempt to crackdown on dedicated parents teaching their children at home, but “to prevent vulnerable young people from vanishing under the radar”, he added.
“As a government, we have a duty to protect our young people and do our utmost to make sure they are prepared for life in modern Britain.”
Under the current plans – which will face a public consultation in June – parents will be responsible for registering their children.
But the proposed measures will also see home-educating parents receive more support, with local authorities required to provide financial support for exam fees and teaching resources.
The move has been welcomed by Ofsted, which has “long had concerns about the increasing numbers of school-age children not attending a registered school”.
“We are especially concerned about children ‘off-rolled’ from schools, and those in illegal schools,” the watchdog’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, said. “The new register will make it easier to detect and tackle these serious problems.”