50 PER CENT more children are being taught at home compared to 2015, as nearly 600 children are kept out of school.

Wiltshire Council officers said the county was seeing significantly more children being taken out of school than the national trend, which is increasing at a slower rate.

Schools not being able to cope with problematic pupils or children with behaviours was highlighted as one possible reason behind the hike.

Jen Salter, head of support and safeguarding service at Wiltshire Council said: “I would hypothesis there is a bit about schools and how parents are supported to keep children in school. We want to identify and to tackle that at a strategic level.

“We don’t see these children very often. We aim to make a home visit within 12 weeks of them starting home education and again within 12 months. But parents can say no thanks to this.

“We have six School attendance orders for children who we’ve deemed are not receiving a reasonable education at home and we can use that as a way to get them back into school and education up to the required standard. There’s a lot of kids who are receiving very good home education.”

Of the 591 children currently being home educated, 64 have special educational needs and a further 129 get support.

Councillors discussed why the increase had been seen, and Cllr Jon Hubbard suggested the current special school consultation as a possible reason for increasing numbers of children with special educational needs (SEN) being taken out of school Cllr Hubbard said: “What do we think the catalysts are. We are seeing a lot of potential change around the SEN sector. Do we feel there is any impact on the number of children electively home educated as a result of that consultation process?”

Ms Salter said: “We know there is a rise for SEN kids being home educated. We need to look at how we tackle that and robustly challenge if we felt they were being home educated as a result deficit of what the school provision can provide. However that isn’t something being fed back by education officers. I would say the group we need to concentrate on more is pupils who have challenging behaviours more than SEN pupils.”

Although a council has no statutory powers to monitor the education of children at home, action can be taken if concerns are raised that relate to a child’s safeguarding.

The Children’s Select committee will receive future reports on why home education rates are rising.