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Data Suggests Surge in Homeschooling in England May Become Permanent

The recent rise in homeschooling in England may persist, as government data indicates that 97,000 children were educated at home during the summer term of 2023, an increase of 11,000 from earlier in the year.
Over 1% of pupils were homeschooled, often due to parents preferring this method over traditional schooling.

The Department for Education (DfE) reports suggest this trend, amplified by the pandemic, is likely to continue, as only a small fraction of parents (4%) chose homeschooling due to COVID-19 concerns. The main reasons cited were lifestyle choices or personal beliefs.

Attendance data reveal that persistent absenteeism is higher post-pandemic, particularly among secondary students and those with special educational needs.

Paul Whiteman of the National Association of Head Teachers emphasized the need for broader measures to address underlying social issues affecting school attendance.

The DfE recorded a decrease in overall absentee rates to 6.8% from 7.5% the previous autumn, but notably higher rates of absence (35%) for pupils with education, health and care plans.

Shadow schools minister Catherine McKinnell highlighted the troubling increase in non-attendance in areas like Newcastle and Gateshead. Before 2020, 55,000 children were homeschooled, but this number surged by 36% in autumn 2020.

Proposed legislation aims to create a compulsory register of homeschooled children to ensure their education is accounted for, despite opposition from some homeschooling advocates.

Despite calls for improving school attendance and pledges of enhanced funding, schools are facing real-term financial pressures not fully mitigated by government measures.

Adjusted for inflation, school funding is at its highest in over a decade. However, school leaders argue that increased staffing costs are not fully covered, with Julia Harnden of the Association of School and College Leaders calling for further investment in the upcoming budget.

The National Foundation for Educational Research noted worsening financial situations in many schools, with some operating at a deficit.

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