Shock rise in home schooling of Gloucestershire children with SEN – David Drew MP calls for investigation

Shock rise in home schooling of Gloucestershire children with SEN – David Drew MP calls for investigation

A dramatic rise in the number of children being taken out of school to be home educated has prompted David Drew MP to raise the issue in parliament and write to Gloucestershire County Council to call for an urgent investigation.

The numbers of children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) being withdrawn from Gloucestershire schools by their parents has rocketed, with a Freedom of Information request to Gloucestershire County Council revealing a six-fold increase in just two years.

  • 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

David Drew, Labour MP for Stroud is worried that children might not be getting the support they need to enable them to continue to be educated in primary and secondary schools in Gloucestershire alongside their friends and peers.

He said;

“Many Gloucestershire headteachers tell me their budgets are stretched to breaking point. “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 this issue in a parliamentary debate on Special Education Needs and Disabilities on Tuesday. 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.”


Dear Richard,

Thank you for your letter of November 9 (Ref: R/TB/mc) which took some time to reach me, hence my belated reply.

 I share your concerns about the lack of sufficient funding for Gloucestershire schools and particularly for High Needs and SEND provision, which is why I raised this in Prime Ministers Questions last summer and again last month with my special parliamentary debate on School Funding in Gloucestershire.

I note that since your letter was sent, Gloucestershire County Council has withdrawn its application to the Department of Education to transfer funding from the High Needs Block to Schools Block. I welcome that decision as it would undoubtedly have placed addition strain on school budgets, although I remain concerned about the predicted overspend in High Needs.

 I have met many headteachers in my constituency who all tell me that inadequate funding is having a significant impact on their schools. Indeed, when I asked teachers and parents to tell me about their experiences in our schools they painted a bleak picture, telling me about rising class sizes and children not receiving the support they should.

It is against this backdrop that I note the dramatic rise in the number of SEN children now being taken out of Gloucestershire schools to be home educated. In the county, there has been a six-fold increase in the number of children with SEN being withdrawn from county schools to be home educated (as detailed in Freedom of Information request to GCC ref 11182211, dated 10 January 2019).

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 withdrawn from Gloucestershire schools to be home educated by parents.

I am concerned that this increase may be due to a deterioration in the provision for children with SEN in our schools, and that parents now feel they are left with no option but to home educate their children.

While home education can be a positive choice for many, every child also deserves to fulfil their potential within our schools, and I would ask Gloucestershire County Council urgently to investigate the reasons behind the figures.

Yours sincerely,

David Drew MP

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