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Lockdown inspires more home schooling enquiries by Suffolk parents

The number of parents wishing to home school their child is expected to rise in Suffolk, after the coronavirus lockdown gave families a ‘trial run’.

Around 1 per cent of Suffolk’s children are educated at home normally, before the coronavirus lockdown enforced at the end of March meant most children were being educated at home.

But Suffolk County Council education bosses have confirmed that they are getting more enquiries from parents about how to continue home schooling their child going forward, as lockdown essentially gave parents an opportunity to try it out.

There's been a rise in the number of children being home schooled in Suffolk
There's been a rise in the number of children being home schooled in Suffolk

While some families struggled with teaching their children, others found it was not a problem.

It is also anticipated that those unconvinced by how safe schools will be from Covid-19 come September are also considering home education as a continued option.

Conservative cabinet member for education, Mary Evans, said: “The number of electively home educated children and young people within Suffolk continues to grow year on year, as is the case nationally.

“At present 1 per cent of Suffolk’s school age population is known to be electively home educated.

"Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we are expecting that there may be an increase in parents who electively home educate their children from September.

“However at this point it is hard to know exactly how many families will choose to go down this route as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to be a changing situation.

“If parents do electively home educate their children families are encouraged to get in contact with SCC’s Elective Home Education team who are available to offer guidance and support.

"There are a lot of resources for families in Suffolk who do wish to home educate their children and the EHE team keeps in touch with these families.”

Parents are free to choose whether they wish for their child to be taught at home or in a school, but there has been concern in recent years about ‘off-rolling’ – an illegal practice where schools that may not be able to meet a child’s special educational needs (SEND) encourage parents to home school them so as not to bring a school’s overall results down.

Jack Abbott, education spokesman from the opposition Labour group, said: “There has to be consideration about the various challenges children and families will face and the right support must be in place as we look to return to some sort of normality.

“Immediately reintroducing school absence fines does nothing to build confidence and will only increase this anxiety.

"If you couple it with the concerns over children and young people receiving the right SEND and SEMH [social, emotional and mental health] support after the government watered down their legal rights, it will more than likely drive more parents to home educating their children.”

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