Councils in England have identified a “rapid surge” in the number of parents choosing to take their children out of school to teach them at home, with a 34% jump in pupils being electively home educated on last year’s figures.
The number of families choosing t home education has been increasing in recent years, but the pandemic appears to have accelerated the trend, with health fears related to Covid the most common reason given by parents, followed by concerns about their child’s anxiety or mental health problems.
A survey by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ACDS) estimated that the cumulative number of children and young people choosing home educating (EHE) across 152 local authorities at some point during the 2020-21 academic year was 115,542 – a 34% increase on 2019-20 totals.
The ADCS said numbers had fluctuated over the year with significant “churn” as high numbers of children and young people both returned to school and were removed from school amid the pandemic uncertainty.
This year’s total marks the biggest year on year increase of home education since the survey began six years ago and according to the ADCS almost half (49.8%) of the 2020-21 EHE cohort made the shift during the 2020-21 academic year.
In the five years before the pandemic, the EHE population was growing by about 20% each year. This year the largest reported EHE cohort in a single local authority was 3,121, the mean average across all 126 authorities that took part in the survey was 534 and key stage 3 – for pupils aged 11-14 – was selected most often as having the highest number of EHE children.