Plaid Cymru backs calls for a register of all home schooled children

“No child should be allowed to fall through the net”: Llyr Gruffydd00_Llyr_Gruffydd_AC.jpg

Plaid Cymru has backed calls for a register of all home schooled children so that local authorities are in contact with every child in their area and that no child is able to slip through the net.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education Llyr Gruffydd said it was important to ensure that local authorities had contact with home-schooled children in their area, but criticised the Welsh Government for being too slow to make progress.

A child practice report published last year following the death of Dylan Seabridge in Pembrokeshire recommended placing a duty on parents to register with a local authority any children who are being home schooled, after the boy was said to be “invisible” to authorities.

The Children’s Commissioner has also called for the current guidance to be given statutory force and for it to include a compulsory register for all home educated children with clear powers for Local Authorities to ensure that they are seeing children and speaking to them directly about their education. This call was most recently repeated by the National Safeguarding Children Board.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education Llyr Gruffydd said:

“Plaid Cymru backs calls to establish a register of all home schooled children so that the authorities are aware of all children in their areas. I want to see a requirement on parents to register with a Local Authority children who are receiving home education, and also to ensure that those children are seen and spoken to annually.

“We have seen a succession of public bodies, organisations and Local Authorities calling for this, and a recent evidence-based review on the risks to children who are educated at home commissioned by the national safeguarding children board gives a damning verdict of the status quo, and has called for home-educated children to be registered and regularly assessed.

We all recognise that parents have the right to choose to educate their child at home rather than at school and that home education is not, in itself, a risk factor for abuse or neglect. But whilst there’s any possibility that a child can become ‘invisible’ and of another Dylan Seabridge being out there somewhere we must have greater action by the Government to tackle this risk.

“However, despite these recommendations made by experts, the Labour government has been slow to act. Unless we introduce a register then I fear more children may slip through the net.”

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