Opposition leader Andrew Davies tabled a written question about home education on 29 June. He asked, “How many children have been taken out of mainstream schooling and into home education for the last five years?”
The answer provided on 6 July by Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, supplied numbers for each year, with this January’s total being 4340. These figures (from Data Cymru’s annual collection) represents only children taken out of school to be home educated. It does not include those who have never been in school. The figures demonstrate a steady increase over the five year period cited by the Minister, with an ‘additional’ 388 children moving from school to home in the year 2021-2022.
The minister cited “Anxiety/Concern due to Covid-19” as the reason in 24% of these cases. “We are continuing to encourage local authorities and schools to work together with families through a supportive approach to enable a return to school at the earliest opportunity,” he added, and went on to explain the breakdown of funding which Local Authorities receive to support elective home education, and the rôle of the government working groups which have been established to focus on “the EHE/ALN interface.”
“The groups will look to identify best practice in working with EHE families, addressing the potential de-registration of a child from school, and supporting re-integration of learners into school,” he said.
Home educators will notice that he said nothing about support for EHE that was not linked to the government’s drive to “reintegrate.” In fact, all three of the above aspects of the groups’ work could by implication be associated with returning those deemed to have wandered from the fold to a place of safety.
Amongst those fortunate children in Wales enjoying the luxury of being able to choose from the exciting options available within EHE are some who enjoy a classical style of learning. On reading the Minister’s answer, these will no doubt be thinking, “I fear the Greeks even when bearing gifts.”
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