THE NUMBER of children in Solihull being home-schooled has increased by around 90 per cent in three years.
As it stands 249 children are registered as being home-schooled in the borough.
This represents an increase of 89 per cent from 132 children at the end of 2014-2015.
As homeschooling rates rise nationally, experts have claimed mental health issues or a lack of special needs provision is keeping children at home.
Some parents take their children out of school to avoid exclusion or prosecution due to poor attendance records.
Many councils have called for more monitoring powers as there are concerns about ‘safeguarding’ issues, the quality of education children receive and whether children can be protected from mistreatment and abuse.
Cabinet member for children’s services, education and skills, councillor Ken Meeson, told us he is aware of national concerns but, in the borough, annual checks on home-schooled pupils are performed by the council’s Elective Home Education Service.
According to latest figures from the government’s Department of Education, Solihull has one of the poorest records in the UK when it comes to permanent exclusion and persistent absence.
It ranks seventh worst out of 153 local authorities for overall permanent exclusion rates for state-funded primary, state-funded secondary and special schools.
It is also has the twelfth worst rate for permanent exclusion in state-funded secondary schools.
As we have reported, many parents of children with special educational needs (SEN) in the borough spoke to us with concerns about a lack of understanding, provision and support in the school setting for children with complex conditions.
An Ofsted inspection into SEN services in the borough stated: “Too many pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities do not attend school on a full-time basis. Levels of absence, persistent absence and exclusions are too high.
“A high proportion of (these) pupils are excluded from school.”
Mr Meeson said: “This is currently a parental right and the reasons can be quite varied, including culture, religious belief or philosophy, school phobia, specific disability, etc.
“Whilst the number is still relatively small compared to the school population, I am aware that concerns have been raised nationally regarding the increasing number of children being educated at home and whether they are receiving good quality teaching and an adequate breadth of curriculum.
“We have an Elective Home Education Service to provide support and monitor provision – it also carries out annual checks.”