Wendy Charles-Warner examines the facts behind the descriptions of home educated children as ‘invisible and isolated’ and a safeguarding risk and finds that actually home educated children are subject to high levels of scrutiny
Analysis of the Serious Case Reviews cited by the NSPCC as having home education as a ‘key factor’, demonstrate that all of the children involved were known to professionals and that there were multiple missed opportunities to act on concerns expressed by professionals, in each case.
Home educated children were found to be disproportionately scrutinised, being approximately twice as likely to be referred to Social Services at 9.39 – 10.19%, as were children aged 0-4 years at 5.24% and children aged 5-16 who attend school at 4.93%. Despite that double referral rate, Child Protection Plans were in place for only 0.17 – 0.24% of home educated children compared to 0.69% of all 0-4 year olds and 0.49 of 5- 16 year old schooled children. Referrals to Social Services were found to be 3.5 – 5 times less likely to lead to a Child Protection Plan with home educated children than with referrals of schooled children aged 5-16 at 9.5% and 5 – 7 times less likely to lead to a Child Protection Plan than referrals for children aged 0-4 years at 13.23%. Rates of home educated children subject to a Child Protection Plan at 0.17 – 0.24% of the population, were also found to be less than teaching staff guilty of abuse offences 0.18 – 0.46%. Home educated children are found to not be at increased safeguarding risk, rather they are shown to be at lower risk than other children.