MORE needs to be done to protect the wellbeing of home-schooled children in Worcestershire, the chairman of a body working to safeguard young people in the county has said.
Speaking at a recent meeting of the Worcestershire Health and Well-Being Board, independent chairman of the county’s Safeguarding Children Board, Diana Fulbrook, said she was concerned there is no provision to monitor the safety of youngsters whose parents chose to educate them at home privately.
Presenting the board’s annual report, Mrs Fulbrook said: “I am pleased to say that, from all the evidence we have, it’s our view that children in Worcestershire are safe.
“But we have identified areas for improvement.”
Vice chairman of Worcestershire Healthwatch Carol Thompson said that she was concerned that neither the county council or any other body had powers to protect home-schooled children from abuse.
She added: “One of the things that came out is the fact that home-educated children seem to go off the radar”.
“I really think we need to keep on top of this.”
There are currently 300 home-schooled pupils in Worcestershire, but a recent NSPCC report expressed concerns these children could become ‘invisible’ to authorities trying to protect them.
Mrs Fulbrook described the issue as “a real concern” for the board.
“The vast majority of home-educated children are in a very safe position,” she said.
“But the local authority does not have the authority to protect them. Nationally, the lobby for parents is so strong that local government has said its intention is not to do anything about it.
“Despite a lot of evidence around the county, which has ended up with a few children dying, there isn’t much will to do something about this.”
“The safeguarding board is of the view we need to keep lobbying,” she said.
The Worcestershire Safeguarding Children Board is a multi-agency body working to reduce the impact of domestic abuse, mental illness and substance misuse on children and their families.
Other questions raised in the report included the impact on children of changes to the county’s social services, recruitment and feedback.