Report highlights extent of increase in parents choosing to home school their children

Ofsted says many schools have at least one child who has been taken out of school and home educated since September due to the pandemic.

Women working on her laptop with child


Many schools have at least one pupil whose parents have removed them to be home educated since the start of the autumn term, according to Ofsted reports.

Ofsted inspectors made nearly 2,000 visits to education and social care providers during the autumn term and found that almost three fifths had at least one pupil whose parents had withdrawn them to be homeschooled since September.

School leaders said that some parents have told them that they only want to home educate temporarily and that their children would return once ‘the pandemic is over’. Ofsted says this suggests “there will be a significant number of children returning to school after a very long gap, expecting to catch up”.

Ofsted says many children are thought to be at least six months behind where they should be and a significant number who have faced repeated periods of self-isolation have seen any progress they have been able to make since September chipped away at.

In just over half of the schools visited, pupils in bubbles were sent home to self-isolate at some point during the term. More children were sent home in bubbles from secondary schools than primaries. Some schools were extensively affected by Covid-19-related absence. And a few school leaders said that a significant proportion of their pupils had to self-isolate on two or three separate occasions.

Inspectors found schools were having to provide remote education under two distinct circumstances: bubble isolation and individual isolation. Progress had been made on remote learning provided during bubble isolation, but individual isolation was a different issue.

Inspectors also found that many children with special educational needs were not attending school full time. Remote education was a challenge for some of these children, particularly if their parents were unable to support them, and some were at increased risk of neglect or abuse.

Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, said: “While remote education is better than nothing, it’s no substitute for the classroom … Schools are struggling to assess whether remote learning is effective or not. For many, the measure of success is whether or not children are engaging with the work at all, rather than whether they are developing their knowledge and understanding – a case of remote learning.”

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