A FORMER teacher has voiced doubts about scores of Stockton youngsters being educated from home.
Many parents had to get to grips with virtual lessons during the pandemic – and tried their hand at helping out in lockdowns.
About 180 youngsters in the borough are now electively home educated out of a total of around 30,000.
Former primary school teacher Barbara Inman was concerned about the quality of education they were getting at the latest Stockton children and young people select committee.
The member for Roseworth said: “There is no way I would want to home-school. The amount of stuff you have to go through.
“Those children who are home-schooled can’t possibly be getting the same as they would get if they were in a school situation.”
A community of home educators has taught children from home for many years in Stockton, and a past review by the select committee uncovered a big rise in the number of youngsters being home-schooled.
Stockton children’s services director Martin Gray said there were people home educating who were very skilled in what they were doing.
“It’s an option and a choice but I agree with you in the main – you can’t replicate the structure and the quality,” he added. “The vast majority of our schools – 93 per cent – are good or outstanding.”
Cllr Inman said: “It’s the social mixing with other children which is very important.”
Parents have a right to educate their children from home. However, councils can serve notices if they don’t believe the education they’re receiving is suitable. They can also use their safeguarding powers.
Panel chairwoman, Cllr Carol Clark, said there were people who “did a fantastic job” home educating – but feared there were others who didn’t.
She added: “My worry is the children who aren’t being taught what they should be – and how difficult it is to intervene. What do we do?”
Government guidance states home education does not need to refer to the national curriculum – and there is no requirement for children to be entered for public exams.
Dissatisfaction with the school system, short term interventions and special educational needs not being met within the school system can be factors for people considering home education.
Mr Gray told the panel the number of youngsters home educated had gone up after Covid lockdowns – but not by as much as some had forecast.
He added: “There was a spike and then a gradual return of children coming back into schools. The reality about the fact they’re not getting the lesson provision, and all the stuff they’re getting from the school, makes it much more difficult.
“That’s a bit of a national trend but it’s not something which has been significant.”
Mr Gray sought to ease concerns about any particular problem in Stockton borough.
“We’ve got 30,000 children of school age – and we’ve got about 180 elective home educated,” he added. “I’m not dismissing it as an issue, but I wouldn’t want you to feel the scale of it is so significant. It’s an option many people take for lots of different reasons.”