Lack of available support forcing disabled children into home education
3 mins read
Tuesday 27 July 2021
Some families with disabled children in the UK are being forced into home schooling due to a lack of appropriate support at school, MPs on the Education Select Committee have found.
Others have to home educate as a result of off-rolling — the unacceptable practice of removing a pupil from the school roll without using a permanent exclusion, primarily in the best interests of the school itself rather than those of the child.
While the pandemic contributed to the increase in home education, Mrunal Sisodia of the National Network of Parent Carer Forums pointed out that many of these parent carers had felt “disgust and frustration” at their treatment during lockdown.
One parent, for example, told the committee that many disabled children within the school system were neglected, abused and dismissed, leaving parents “little choice” but to protect them through elective home education (EHE).
In a report published today, committee MPs argued that home education must never be a fall-back option for parents who have been forced into it as a last resort after exhausting all possible attempts to access the support their disabled children require.
To stop this from happening, committee chair Robert Halfon MP said every parent carer should have an allocated person to help them through the process when applying for an assessment of their child’s needs and where a choice about home education is being made.
‘Home education must remain elective’
For those who electively choose to home educate, it is essential that the government sets up a statutory national register of children outside of school to ensure every child is receiving a suitable education.
“There is clearly a distinction between those families who make a free choice to EHE, and those for whom it is not truly ‘elective.’ We understand that many home educators do not see off-rolling, exclusion or illegal schools as a problem of EHE,” said the report. “However, the fact remains that some families — especially those where children have SEND — feel forced into what should be a free and informed choice.
“Many children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) may be happiest educated at home, but this should absolutely not be a choice that parents are forced to make for lack of the right support.”
MPs hope that the long-awaited SEND Review, originally due in the spring, will address some of these concerns and urged the government to publish it as soon as possible as it has “already been delayed enough.”
If you are considering home education for your child, it’s important to understand the responsibility you are taking on. Visit our Home Education webpages for more information or call our free SEN Helpline on 0808 808 3555 for support (Mon-Fri 9.30am-5pm).