THE numbers of parents home-schooling their children rose massively in this part of Merseyside last year, across both primary and secondary school levels.

It’s been revealed that following a decade-long increase, the number being home-schooled in Wirral is now at a 10-year high, at 207 pupils.

That’s a 28% increase on the previous year, and the number has more than doubled in the past four years.

It comes after a similar national increase, which has seen a 40% rise over three years.

According to a report on elective home education to be discussed by a Wirral council committee next week, the most frequent reasons given for homeschooling were philosophical or religious, which totalled 68 of the 207.

Health (including mental health) reasons were second, with 31 of the parents, while the school being unable to meet the needs of the child was third, with 26 giving that reason.

The other reasons included dissatisfaction with the school system (16), bullying (10), being unable to secure a placement at a preferred school (seven), and that the child was at risk of exclusion (five) or prosecution (three).

The report, which will be discussed by the children and families overview and scrutiny committee on September 25, said: “The overall trend is of significantly increasing numbers of children Electively Home Educated especially over the last four years when numbers have more than doubled.”

Of the 207 pupils, 99 are in primary education, with 108 in secondary.

Speaking about the reasons for home-schooling, the report added: “It is important to note that the reasons listed are parental perceptions. The main reason given by parents for choosing Elective Home Education was therefore philosophical or religious reasons (68) and this is particularly prevalent in the primary school age cohort.

“It should be noted that some parents choose to home educate for a period at an early age but with the intention that the child will eventually go to secondary school. Of those who remain Electively Home educated to GCSE and beyond in this cohort many achieve very well.”

It comes as the Department for Education consults on the issue across England, saying it will “respond in due course”.

Earlier this year, Dr Carrie Herbert, founder of The Red Balloon charity for children outside mainstream education, told BBC News the huge increase in homeschooling meant there may be “something quite tragic about the state of the education system”.

The charity holds an online school which runs at the same times as a normal school day, tailored to each individual child’s interests and needs.

She added: “I’m not sure it’s very useful anymore to put 30 children in one classroom with an adult all doing the same thing in the same way at the same time.

“We should really be thinking more 21st century and outside the box about this and teaching online in real time can help do this.”