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Gloucestershire Business News

Calls for investigation after rise in home schooling

A dramatic rise in the number of children being taken out of school to be home educated has prompted one of Gloucestershire's MPs to raise the issue in Parliament.

The numbers of children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) being withdrawn from Gloucestershire schools by their parents has rocketed.

A Freedom of Information request to Gloucestershire County Council revealed a six-fold increase in just two years.

David Drew, Labour MP for Stroud, said he was worried children might not be getting the support needed to enable them to continue to be educated in primary and secondary schools in Gloucestershire alongside their friends and peers.

"Many Gloucestershire headteachers tell me their budgets are stretched to breaking point," said Mr Drew.

"Schools now have to meet more of the costs of providing SEN support from their own budget after Gloucestershire County Council decided to reduce its financial contribution for children with SEN.

"Schools face funding pressures from every direction which means that children with SEN miss out but also that resources for the whole school are depleted. Schools, and their pupils, are penalised for inclusivity.

"GCC also has a £4.7 million overspend in high needs and says its position is 'serious and challenging'.

"I am very concerned that there may be parents who feel they have no option but to home educate their children.

"Home education is a valid choice, but parents should not be in a position where this is their only option.

"I have written to Gloucestershire County Council asking them to fully investigate the reason behind the rapid rise in children with SEN being taken out of schools to be home-schooled."

Mr Drew raised the issue in a parliamentary debate on Special Education Needs and Disabilities. This followed his own parliamentary debate in January, where he raised Gloucestershire's school funding issues directly with the schools minister Nick Gibb.

"Many of my colleagues spoke passionately about how SEND cuts are affecting families and schools in their area," said Mr Drew.

"We must look ensure fair funding for our schools and for all children."

• In 2015/16, 20 children with SEN were taken out of Gloucestershire schools to be home educated by parents.

• In 2017/18, 126 children with SEN were taken out of Gloucestershire schools to be home educated by parents

The total number of children both with and without SEN being taken out of county schools by parents who are choosing to home educate has also increased.

• In 2015/16, 256 children were taken out of Gloucestershire schools to be home educated by parents.

• In 2017/18, 355 children were taken out of Gloucestershire schools to be home educated by parents

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