Northampton

Number home schooled in East of England rising

Samantha Allington and her three children
Image caption Samantha Allington educates her three girls at home

Thousands more children in the East of England are being educated at home, new figures show.

Five years ago 3,489 youngsters were home educated across the eight counties in the east - now there are 5,400 representing a rise of 54%.

In Bedfordshire, the figure increased from 99 to 262 over five years.

The government say steps are being taken to ensure the system is as "robust as it can be" to ensure youngsters are properly educated.

Dr Helen Lees, an expert in alternative education at the University of Birmingham, said she believed the internet had given parents the confidence to educate their children at home.

"We have seen a rise in people becoming aware of home education because of the rise in the internet - a lot of the discussion happens online... it's a lot more available," she said.

Dr Lees believes many home-schooled children can be better prepared for university because they learn in a "more autonomous way", adding that the belief home-schooled children are isolated and bad at socialising is "a myth".

"What we see with home educating families is they can't help but get connected with other home educating families," she said.

"I haven't come across a family who are not connected to other children.

Parents gave many reasons for removing their children from mainstream education - including bullying and feeling disabled children were not being catered for.

'Never regretted it'

Samantha Allington, from Northampton, initially pulled her eldest daughter out of school because she was dyslexic. She did not feel the school was doing enough to support her.

Mrs Allington - who also home schools her other three children - said: "I have never seriously regretted the decision to home school my children. We felt the school was letting them down and we could do better at home."

Since starting the home school process, Mrs Allington said she has had lots of support from home schooling groups in the area.

Jo Wood, who runs a support group for parents who home educate in Daventry, said her daughter was bullied for four years in school, but they "weren't coming up with a solution so I decided it was time to pull her out because I was losing her into a world of depression".

"Each child learns in a different way - there are a lot of teachers leaving the profession to teach their own children because they are disillusioned with the system," she added.

"The classroom sizes are getting bigger - there isn't the time for all of the pupils."

Those who want to remove their children from school to home educate should write to their children's head teacher.

A Department for Education spokesman said: "It is unacceptable for any child of compulsory school age not to be receiving a suitable education. We recognise parents may choose to home school their children and many do a good job, but that education must be of a suitable quality."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites