ALMOST one thousand of the county’s children were registered as home educated last year as council bosses admit they have struggled to keep track of how many children are not taught in school.

Worcestershire County Council’s records show 944 children were registered as electively home educated (EHE) throughout last year – more than double the number in 2014.

Nick Wilson, assistant director of education and skills at Worcestershire County Council, said the council had no way of understanding the exact number of children currently educated at home.

Speaking to the council’s children and families overview and scrutiny panel at a meeting last week, Mr Wilson said the changes in the education system – particularly the rise of academies and free schools – meant the council was working in an “educational landscape which was purposely fragmented” and as a result found it difficult to keep track of where every child in the county was being educated.

He said: “At one time, everybody was on the same computer system. We used to suck it up and analyse it. Now not all of the people in the various schools are on the same system. The system that monitors and tracks children has a degree of lagging to it all the time.

“Over the last two years we have really focused on getting that information and tracking that information as well as educating the schools about what their roles and responsibilities are. That has taken some time to do.”

Under legislation, parents do not have to tell the council of how they intend to educate their child if they take them out of school but councils must identify children who are not receiving a ‘suitable’ education and if they are not, investigate why.

Pupil registration regulations which came into force in 2016 require schools to tell the council of any child admitted or deleted from their register as well as irregular periods of attendance and specific absences.

The EHE figures come as the Government announced it was consulting on plans which would force parents to have to register with their local authority if they chose to educate their children at home.

Under the plan, it would be the responsibility of parents to register their child if they were not attending a state or private school.

Minsters say a register would help councils intervene if children were at risk or standards were poor.

In response to current legislation, the county council said it now has a central reporting system which helps it track children being taken out of school.

This system gives schools as well as other professionals and the public to report any concerns they have over a child’s education.

Currently, once a parent has made the decision to take their child out of school, they will receive a visit from the council within 12 weeks to ensure the education the child is receiving is suitable.