Dramatic increase in home-schooled children in Leeds, meeting hears

Steve Walker, Leeds City Council's head of children's services.
Steve Walker, Leeds City Council's head of children's services.

Leeds has seen a “significant” rise in the number of its children being home educated, according to the council’s top education chief.

According to data provided earlier this year, the number of children in Leeds being home-educated jumped from 202 in 2012/13 to 512 in 2016/17.

And the council’s director of children’s services Steve Walker raised the point at this week’s Leeds City Council’s children’s scrutiny meeting.

He said: “In Leeds we have seen quite a significant increase in the number of home-educated children.”

A member of the panel interrupted, asking: “Why?”

Mr Walker responded: “I think the numbers are quite varied.

“I think there are parents who are frustrated with the education their children have been receiving. Some are persuaded that the best thing that you can do is educating them at home.

“And there are parents who make the positive choice to do that. We will always seek to support parents who have made that decision to educate their children at home.

“If that may be difficult for them, we want to work with them to find an alternative school.”

He warned the council had limited powers to ensure those children were being educated properly, adding: “We don’t have a statutory right to enter, or to see children who are home educated. Our responsibility is to make sure that they are receiving appropriate educational provision, but that is not very well-defined.”

He added that former children’s minister Edward Timpson has been asked to head an inquiry by the Government to look at the issue of home-educated children.