26/06/2019

Uncovering Invisible Children: A Commentary On The Consultation: Children Not In School

In April 2019, the Department of Education published the consultation: Children not in school: proposed legislation.

One proposal is to impose a new statutory duty on English Local Authorities with responsibility for education to maintain a register of compulsory school-age children who are not registered pupils at a Local Authority maintained school, a non-maintained special school, an alternative provision academy, or a registered independent school.

Such a duty does not currently exist and the creation of the suggested register will enable Authorities to track the education of children in their area, including those who are home schooled. The register will result in a more accurate recording of data.

It might also bring to light safeguarding concerns that may not have been previously visible. For example, there is a concern that the lack of a requirement to register home-educated children may mean that abuse and neglect of such children remains hidden.

The case of seven-year-old, Kira Ishaq illustrates this. Kira died from the abuse and neglect inflicted on her by her mother and stepfather. This was after having been withdrawn from school on the understanding that she was to be home schooled.

The use of a register may help to protect children; checks by Local Authority officials may identify children at risk and deter abusive parents. It will also enable Authorities to determine whether a suitable education is being provided as required by s436A(1) of the Education Act 2006.

Rose Baulk (Lecturer)

Law

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