A parents’ group says it is “infuriated” by new Government plans to make sure families who educate their children at home are being monitored by local authorities.
The investigation will also consider whether there is any evidence that home education could be used as a ‘cover’ for child abuse.
The review has been prompted by concerns that home schooled children might not be receiving a “suitable education”, although many parents argue they chose to home educate because of failures in the state system.
The review will look at whether current systems “adequately support and monitor the education, safety and wellbeing of home educated children”, and could make recommendations for improving these systems.
The Guardian newspaper reported last year that home schooling families from Germany are taking refuge in the UK.
The German authorities have threatened to take their children into care under laws introduced by Hitler to ensure children’s education was under state control.
The Government says it has “no plans to change parents’ well established rights to educate their children at home”.
The announcement of the review has drawn criticism from home educators’ charity, Education Otherwise (EO), which termed it “offensive”.
EO said there was an implication “that home educated children are at risk purely because they are home educated”.
The review follows a public consultation on the issue of children missing education.
Some children’s organisations and local authorities said they were concerned that the current situation prevented them from monitoring children’s welfare.
Graham Badman, former Director of Children’s Services in Kent, is leading the review.
He said: “Legislation affords every parent the right to choose to educate their child at home but with those rights go responsibilities, not least being to secure a suitable education.”
In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, Dr Ian Walkington says: “It would seem that the Government just wants to regulate home education in its typically heavy-handed manner.
“The studies into home education tend to point to the fact that, on average, these children do better academically than state-schooled children.”
A recent study described education at home as an “astonishingly efficient way to learn”.
It is thought that around 55,000 children are currently taught at home, with figures suggesting significant rises over the last few years. Under the Education and Inspections Act 2006, local councils have to make arrangements to identify children not receiving a proper education.
However, they do not have the power to inspect the quality of lessons for children taught at home.
Children’s minister Baroness Delyth Morgan said: “Parents are able, quite rightly, to choose whether they want to educate children at home, and a very small number do. I’m sure, the vast majority do a good job.
“However, there are concerns that some children are not receiving the education they need. And in some extreme cases, home education could be used as a cover for abuse.”