Leeds and Wakefield: Increase in pupils who are home educated

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As new figures show that more and more parents in Leeds and Wakefield are taking their children out of the education system, Sophie Mei-lan finds out more.

An increasing number of parents are taking their children out of the education system and deciding to home school, according to new figires.

During the past year the number of children being educated at home has risen across Leeds and Wakefield.

In Leeds that figure has increased from 161 children to 181 and in Wakefield it has risen from 95 children to 167.

But there are fears those numbers may be higher than this as there is no statutory obligation for a parent to register their child as being home educated.

Mum-of-three Sarah Jones from Ferrybridge, decided to withdraw her eldest son from school aged seven.

She felt that both schools she had tried, one state one private, failed to treat him as an individual.

She said: “In the state school, the teachers were overwhelmed by numbers. In the private school, the focus was on cramming as much into their heads as would fit, without consideration for the fact that they’d only been out of nappies for about half their life.”

Sarah has three sons aged, 11, five and three years old and she home educates all three. She said that the state school did virtually no exercise so the kids would be like “fizzy bottles of pop and explode at playground with little supervision.”

Mrs Jones said: “They were being expected to sit down all day, quietly, and told off if they didn’t, without any ability to release their energy other than in the playground.”

When trying a private school, she found it beneficial that they did PE four times a week but with the extra homework she felt her son had very little time for himself, so Mrs Jones withdrew her son from the school system. She said: “We had discovered that there was a huge home education network in Yorkshire, and that the kids would have no shortage of opportunities for a wide education, as well as socialising opportunities.”

The family’s week now includes a range of physical activities, languages and drama and “free-time” for the kids to choose what they want to learn about.

Business woman Claire Young, a mum-of-one who runs School Speakers, said that school is more than what happens in the classroom.

She said it created the basis where your future friends and networks are built.

Miss Young said: “By being home schooled you miss out on this, as much as people try to link up with other students and groups, I think that is a big shame.

“I believe that education is the back bone to your life and I want my daughter to have the best start and that isn’t by me teaching her.”

Although Miss Young said she can understand people opting for home education if they don’t have a good school offered to them.

She said: “There is no consistency of schools in the UK. I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. If you have a terrible school as your only option I can understand why people decide to take matters into their own hands and home school. However, if you have a good school offered to you I am unsure why people who turn this down and choose to home school.”

Miss Young said that she would go as far as to move house to be close to a good school or work any jobs to pay for a “great education.”

She said: “I understand however why more people are home schooling, as growing birth rates and expanding numbers in the class room, are big drivers.

“I also think more parents want easier freedom to travel, a crackdown on taking your children out of school during term time, and questions over the pressure on SATS and what Ofsted believe is important.”

Mrs Jones is currently travelling with her family in Spain where she has gone for a month to help teach the children about the country and the language as well as getting some Winter Sun.

She said: “We’ve been doing ‘beach maths,’ where I draw sums in the sand and they solve them with sticks – much more fun than doing workbooks yet the same learning effect.”

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