Home schooling increasing in Kent and Medway since coronavirus say both Kent County Council and Medway Council
There has been a large increase in the number of parents permanently removing their children from school in favour of home learning since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Both Kent County Council and Medway Council have confirmed significant rises in the number of families opting to take their children off schools rolls permanently.
Whilst all parents have a right to teach their offspring themselves - known as 'elective home education' - hundreds of thousands of families were forced into home schooling when the national lockdown in March led to the nationwide closure of schools to all children except those of keyworkers.
Since then education teams in both Kent and Medway have reported large increases in the number of families choosing to continue that learning from home.
In Kent since the start of the new school year in September there have been 376 new registrations for elective home education. This is compared to 210 pupils, aged between four and 16, for the same period last year.
In Medway between August and September this year 85 pupils were newly registered with the authority as now being 'educated at home' compared to just 52 in 2019.
Kent County Council says the increase it's seeing in the numbers of families removing their children from school is reflective of the current picture nationally.
Craig Chapman, interim head of fair access at KCC, said: “Each family will have their own reasons for choosing to educate their child at home. For some parents, educating their children at home has been a positive and enjoyable experience and therefore, they have made a commitment to taking full responsibility for the education of their child/children.
"Some parents have chosen to educate their children at home as a temporary measure because they have concerns relating to COVID-19 and are not yet ready to return their child/children to school."
In August, shortly before schools reopened to all pupils, the government issued a warning that any parent keeping their child away from their school over safety fears could risk a fine for non-attendance.
Parents opting for permanent home learning are asked to contact their child's existing school in writing to tell them of their desire to 'de-register' whilst also notifying the local education authority of their intention to home educate.
KCC says any family who gives up their child's school place, in favour of home learning, must appreciate that a return to that class or school at a later date cannot be guaranteed.
Mr Chapman added: "We would recommend that parents discuss the options available to them with their child’s school as part of their decision making process, as once a child is removed from a school roll, should a parent wish for their child to return to school at a later date, the school place may no longer be available to them, even if they only intend to home school for a short time.
"KCC’s Elective Home Education Support and Advice Officers are on hand to support parents through the process and signpost them to access useful resources and local home education groups.”