A COUNCILLOR has raised concerns about the rise in home schooling in Cheshire East and the social and academic impact it could have on some children.

Cllr June Buckley (Alsager, Lib Dem) also asked about the extra pressure it placed on the council.

“What do Ofsted actually think about these home educated?” Cllr Buckley asked at the children and families committee meeting.

“If you're a school, you get Ofsteded, but people can take their children out of school, and the onus seems to be on the local authority who are providing a service to suddenly provide somebody else to go in and check.”

She added: “Sometimes you need to go to school just to meet other people and learn how to interact.”

Latest available figures show the number of children being home educated because their parents have opted to remove them from school has increased by 11 per cent, from 457 at the end of March this year to 509 by the end of June.

A report to the committee stated there were a number of reasons, including anxieties around Covid.

Director of education Jacky Forster said although the council had managed to reduce the potential number by about 60%, ‘it's still been a significant increase’.

She said there was a team of home education advisers who had regular contact with the families and children.

“They will meet with the families to make sure that we're confident in that work,” said Ms Forster.

“Ofsted have a mixed view. Obviously they have concerns at times about it, and they challenge us about the role we take, and the measures we have to ensure that it's appropriate education.

“They will look at how we are ensuring that we are confident that they are safeguarded and about the welfare of those children, because they're often hidden children.”

“Where we have any doubts or risks, we would make an appropriate referral to our social care colleagues because they then have statutory powers,” she said.

“It is a difficult area of work because there are expectations of us, but we don't have a lot of legal powers around it.”