Schools blamed as education at home shows dramatic increase

The number of parents home schooling their children has increased by at least 800 per cent within five years in some parts of Britain, as growing evidence emerges that some schools have encouraged it as a way of improving league table ratings for truancy and educational performance

The highest increase in Britain has been recorded in Lancashire, where 567 children are now home schooled compared with 61 five years ago.

Leicestershire's increase is 420 per cent and Cardiff's 221 per cent, though Education Otherwise – an organisation which offers advice to parents wanting to educate their children at home – claims the numbers may be three times higher than those disclosed by local authorities, because some children never start school in the first place and are not on local authority records.

Chris Meldrum, head teacher of the City of Preston School in Lancashire told Channel 4 News this week that he believed home schooling had been encouraged in some places because of the benefit to the institution's performance.

"I'm assuming that [headteachers] are saying 'I've got targets to meet [so]... why don't we look at this [homeschooling] loophole and sign them off," he said.

A total of 30 children were "signed off" in 12 months at his school, which is currently in special measures, though Mr Meldrum has discouraged the practice since his arrival.

B ut some parents do not need encouragement. Stewart and Rebecca Eyres, a university lecturer and librarian from Kirkham, near Preston, felt that school would "institutionalise" their daughters Jane, eight, and Amy, six, and not provide the personalised learning that is one of the Government's aspirations.

The Eyres' homeschooling system is not highly structured. It may typically begin with Mr Eyres deliberately leaving a newspaper around and hoping his daughters will be drawn to an image or headline that might form the basis of a discussion. As a mathematics graduate he can help Jane with the subject while reading sessions develop from the books the children are interested in. The girls have music and French lessons with local tutors and other children.

"We look at what our friends' children are doing in school and benchmark as we go along," said Mr Eyres.

"We could see the girls getting on acceptably at school but we felt our eldest would not cope with the strictures it presented and our other daughter would go along with everything and become a bit of a couch potato in class. It's a confidence thing. Working in the education system has given my wife and I the confidence to do this."

Anecdotal evidence suggests other parents are keeping their children at home because their offspring have special educational needs while others object to the testing which they feel dominates school.

Others choose the route because of bullying and some simply find it the best way to avoid prosecution for truanting. The point at which children are due to step up to secondary school often triggers a decision to remove a child.

Some local authorities have dedicated home school liaison officers but LEAs can only intervene if there is evidence that a child's education is inadequate.

Education welfare officers are concerned that there is no identifiable standard or benchmarking for the hundreds of children who do not attend school. Critics of the practice also suggest that it affects children's ability to socialise. But Mr Eyres insists that theory is flawed.

"I simply don't rate the social side of school and in my experience that was not what school was about," he said. "The girls have many firm friends outside school, made at dancing and Rainbows (the Guiding organisation for under-sevens) and continue to make more."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Imperial College London: Safety Training Administrator

£25,880 – £28,610 per annum: Imperial College London: Imperial College London ...

University College London: Client Platform Support Officer

£26,976 - £31,614 per annum: University College London: UCL Information Servic...

Guru Careers: Instructional Designer / e-Learning Designer

£30 - 32k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking an Instructional / e-Learning De...

Recruitment Genius: Schools Education & Careers Executive

£30500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Schools Education & Careers Executive ...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor