Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Growth in Homeschooled Numbers Risks Child Safety

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Growth in Homeschooled Numbers Risks Child Safety

Article excerpt

The number of children educated at home or in unregistered alternative provision poses a huge challenge for safeguarding, Sir Mike Tomlinson warns

Hundreds more children are being homeschooled in Birmingham than was the case two years ago, raising concerns that they could be exposed to extremism and other risks, Sir Mike Tomlinson has revealed.

He told TES that when he arrived in the city as its education commissioner in 2014, an estimated 750 children were being home-educated. But that number had increased by a third to roughly 1,000 by the end of his tenure in July.

This posed a big challenge for the authorities around ensuring that children were safe from extremism, neglect, abuse and other risks, he said.

Sir Mike said that this was part of a broader "national issue" about children being educated at home, in independent schools and in unregistered alternative provision.

The government should review existing powers to intervene in these settings to ensure children were safe, he argued.

'Anybody's guess'

"The problem is that we do not know how many children are being home-educated, we have limited powers in relation to those children, and we are reliant on the authorities' own intelligence sources about where this alternative provision exists," Sir Mike said. …

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