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Hessle High School

WEEK 21 - Friday 23 February 2024

One of the most worrying patterns since the pandemic has been the increase in the number of young people that are being home educated. A long time ago, this was seen as something of a lifestyle choice made by a type of parent that possessed the resources, time and wherewithal to provide a form of education that they preferred against that on offer from local schools. 

Recently, it has become a choice made by desperate parents unable to navigate the often-complex challenges of pupil disengagement, challenging behaviour and perceived unmet needs. Rather than the actions of a parent/carer who can provide effective education at home, it is often the path of least resistance for a family in crisis.  

Last year, it was reported that an estimated 140,000 pupils in England were home educated at some stage, and it is likely that the figure has increased further since then. Further studies show that some of the poorest areas of the country have seen the biggest increases, such as Hartlepool, North East Lincolnshire and Knowsley. There have been similar if not so great increases in our area of Hull and ER too, and we have also seen an increase at The Hessle Academy, mostly in the secondary phase at Hessle High. 

The decision to home educate your child is a huge one and we do as much as we can to dissuade parents from doing so, unless we are convinced that the parent is able to do it at least as well as we could in school. Several meetings take place before we finally take the student off our roll as ultimately it is the parents’ decision. The Local Authority then take responsibility for ensuring that effective home education is actually taking place and it is common for students, within a few months, to return to school and usually to the place they came from. That has been the experience for us in most cases. 

What can be done to prevent parents from feeling that home education is their only option?  

Often the reason for the decision is a belief that the child’s needs are not being met in school and these are often linked to Special Educational Needs. Delays in securing Education Health Care Plans from local authorities often give rise to attendance problems which then lead to the decision to home educate. It is a multi-stage problem that is characterised by a lack of funding in each setting whether that be the school or the local authority. In a world where the adults are trying their best to keep children in school, happy and thriving, it usually comes down to a lack of money and staff which prompts families to make what must be a heartbreaking decision. With the young person the one to suffer the most. Sadly, the size of the problem may be hugely underestimated as there is not a single register nationally of children that are not in education. This proposal for a single register has been promised by the Government for a few years and it is supposed to be part of a Schools Bill ‘soon’.  

I have written before about the changing ‘social contract’ that has weakened the expectation that children should be in school every day; this is a major cause of the lower levels of attendance to school since the pandemic. The home education issue is an extreme aspect of this wider problem which is going to take years, and a lot more resources, to fix. 


The first week of the new half term has gone quickly in a blur of activity. Our Year 11 students have now completed their Spring Mock exams and will now spend some time next week on improving practical and coursework. There are now just 9 weeks until the first ‘formal, sit down’ exam and they are determined to make the most of each of those days and hours. 

Some of our Year 9 students and families were in school on Wednesday evening to hear about our fantastic Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, run by Miss Moore. This has been a tremendous success at Hessle since it was relaunched in 2019 and each year, over fifty students complete the Bronze Award, with some of them going on to the Silver and then Gold Awards. This contributes to our vision for developing learners with exceptional character and they also build great memories along the way too. If your child is interested in this programme, please ask them to speak to Miss Moore. 

Finally, yesterday evening was the first half of our Year 7 Progress Evening where over 75% of parents were in school, meeting with teachers and discovering how their child was progressing in school. The increase in parental engagement this year has been really pleasing and we hope to see as many parents in school next week for the second half of the year group. 

And then a reminder to parents/carers of students in Year 9 that our Pathways Evening takes place on Wednesday 28th February next week, starting at 6pm. At this event, you will find out more about the subjects that students will be able to select for study at GCSE. We hope to see you all there. 

Have a great weekend and thank you for your support. 

Mr Groak