On 26th April the BBC ran a story on its news website stating that, on the basis of a survey of the 177 local authorities across the UK which could provide full figures, the number of home-schooled children has risen 40% in the three years up to 2016/17. Of these East Sussex has the highest percentage (approximately 1.3%) in mainland England, topped only by the Isle of Wight and Ceredigion (in Wales).

Education authorities within the county are quoted as ascribing the choice of home schooling over state provision to ‘lack of school choice, unmet special educational needs and the rigour and limits of the current school curriculum’. Councils nationally are said to be demanding more monitoring powers and expressing concerns about the quality of the education home-schooled children receive as well as safeguarding issues, such as the ability to properly protect children from abuse or maltreatment.

However, Dr Paula Radice, a former state primary teacher who has set up Enjoycation, a not-for-profit educational facility based at Jackson Hall (the headquarters of Hastings Voluntary Action), to provide a fully-resourced learning space for home-schooled children from age four upwards (including tutoring for GCSE), cites positive reasons. She aims to offer an alternative which is collaborative, creative and child-centred. “Home-educated children”, she says, “tend to have wide and varied interests. Often the current testing regime in primary schools, with more formal learning demands on even the youngest children, is a factor in taking children out of school.”

 

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