According to all the surveys which have been carried out in this country in recent years, home educated children seem far more likely to have problems of one sort and another than the school population as a whole. In 2003, Education Otherwise asked all its members about their reasons for home educating, in 2006 the National Foundation for Educational Research published Some Perspectives on Home educated Children, in 2007 York Consulting found the same thing and so did the Ofsted survey, whose results were published last year. It seems clear that among children who are educated at home by their parents, there are an awful lot with special educational needs or who are the victims of bullying. It is rare for a child to be withdrawn from school because the education is not up to scratch. The commonest reasons by far for taking children out of school is because the school is seen by the parents as being unable or unwilling to deal with the problems which the child is encountering.
At any rate, whatever the rights and wrongs of the matter, the end result is a group of perhaps eighty thousand children with a far higher proportion of autistic spectrum disorder, dyslexia, dyspraxia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Emotional and Behavioural Disorders and so on than an average group of school children. The parents would argue that this situation has arisen because of shortcomings on the part of the school. This may well be so. The fact still remains that we have tens of thousands of children who are often not receiving the help for their children's difficulties which they require and to which they are entitled. The provision of support services often ends when a child is deregistered from school. During the Ofsted survey of local authorities and home educators which was conducted in 2009, one mother said that when she mentioned that she was considering taking her children from school, a child with special educational needs, she was told that it was a case of 'school and services, or home education and no services'. This is not an isolated case.
The result of all this is that many of the children who have been deregistered from school in this way are not receiving the oversight of professionals. In many cases, the parents are angry and at loggerheads with what they see as the educational establishment and want no more to do with them anyway. In others, they are told bluntly that services will in any case end if they take their children from school. I am not commenting here at all about the rights and wrongs of the actions of either the parents or the schools. It is though a matter of concern that so many children who evidently need extra help in order to fulfil their potential are now effectively cut off from the services which they require. A number of people are uneasy about this, including many professionals, but I can't think that there is a simple solution. I am aware that a number of parents here took their children from school because they believed the school to be failing in their duties towards the children. I wonder if any of them have any ideas about the best way to deliver services to children once they are out of school?