Could better use of ICT help improve home education?


A recent report published by Ofsted highlights the growing trend of educating children at home, and maybe a burgeoning market for education technology provider. This is compounded by the fact that Ofsted said that more information was needed about home education so that effective support could be provided.

For the report ‘Local authorities and home education’, inspectors visited 15 local authorities across England and held discussions with home-educated children, their parents, local authority staff and headteachers.

The children and young people inspectors met were enthusiastic about their learning and keen to explain what they had gained by being educated at home. Inspectors also found that the parents who received monitoring and guidance from local authorities were generally positive about the advice and encouragement and would welcome more support.

However, local authorities do not have a complete picture of how all the children in their local area are educated. Schools alert local authorities of children whose parents decide to educate them from home but there is no reliable way to establish how many children never entered the school system. This means local authorities are not always able to offer support or make sure that children in their area are receiving a suitable education and have their welfare protected. To enable them to do this, the report recommends that parents are required to register their intention to educate their children at home.

Could improved ICT provide a better network among home educators, and more reliable communication channels with local authorities, for example?

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert, said: “The report tells us that parents educating their children at home welcome effective guidance and advice from local authorities who understand the challenges they face. Local authorities could learn from the good practice it highlights so they are in a better position to support parents and children.

“The report also found that current legislation around elective home education means it is extremely challenging for local authorities to meet their statutory duty to ensure children have a suitable education.”

The report ‘Local authorities and home education’ can be found on the Ofsted website at www.ofsted.co.uk/publications/090267