Written evidence submitted by [a member of the public]

[Note: This evidence has been redacted by the Committee. Text in square brackets has been inserted where text has been redacted.]


My name is [name] and I am a parent of three children aged [ages]. My eldest children currently attend school but I deregistered my youngest son at the start of the new school term in [date].

Home educating my sons has always been something I have considered. As a primary teacher with 20 years experience of teaching including in a leadership and management capacity, I have observed both the advantages and shortcomings of the present education system in this country. The opportunity to “home school” (which I differentiate from “home educate” which is what I am now doing with my [age] year old as opposed to trying to emulate school at home) meant that I could see the limitations of school very clearly and the benefits to making an alternative arrangement for my child’s education. Home education for me offers the opportunity, not for my child to do school at home (in fact he is rarely at home!), but to access an education from the wider world and community around us. He is not trapped within the confines of a classroom which, since the pandemic, has become a place where he would be seated in rows and not have the freedom of movement that is age appropriate. Many consider that school offers the chance for children to socialise; I disagree. They are bound by short playtimes and usually one age range; indeed now they are confined to socialising in a bubble. My son socialises every day with a range of ages – adults, children, older members of society COVID rules allowing. All of the activities I have undertaken with my child have been in line with the government rules.

My eldest children chose to remain at school but had the choice. The sitting in rows and formal education is not unusual at their age and they are more resilient to it. Primary education, however, is by definition “first hand” and should be experiential. This has been lost sight of in the culture on the education system in England. 

The current curriculum offering in schools has become more and more narrow of recent years and since the COVID 19 pandemic, schools are even less able to offer a broad and balanced curriculum. Music and singing is limited, PE is very limited and weather dependant since it can now only happen outdoors and schools do not like to take children out in bad weather, science cannot be practical anymore, drama opportunities non-existent. The coming together of the school community for assemblies is not limited to the poor substitution of “live” screen-based assemblies and children and parents have had enough of screen learning and are desperate for some unplugged learning. Teachers and school staff are now operating in an atmosphere of fear and a culture of avoiding blame and risk.

My son is able to complete all the formal requirements of school and receive a broad and balanced curriculum which is giving him the love of learning back which was stamped out of him as soon as he entered Year 1 and “learning” became a separate thing to play and something to be disliked. This is not simply because I am a qualified [profession]; indeed the 6 months of “home schooling” that the nation has just experienced has resulted in a wealth of resources and learning available to all.

I should perhaps also mention that my son was operating at an “exceeding” level before lockdown and so there have never been any concerns about his achievement. He is also a very well-behaved child and there have never been any issues with school. He has no special needs. However, I would also like to mention that I have met many home educating families whose children were operating below the national standard before lockdown and, due to being able to access 1:1 support from their parent during lockdown and a truly tailored curriculum, have actually now caught up! With tailored support, children can work at their level and make progress whatever level they are operating at. In school, however, work is often tailored to the middle and those on the edges often coast or fall further behind.


On deregistering my child, I wrote to my child’s school and they informed me they would take him off roll and inform the local authority. As there have never been any concerns about my child’s wellbeing, attainment or any safeguarding issues there was no cause for concern. I presume therefore that had there been any concerns, the school would have informed the relevant safeguarding channels. This seems to me a sensible system. Schools generally have a good knowledge of which families are at risk. This tells me that there are safeguarding processes in place currently.

Regarding children who have never registered with school and so do not need to deregister again I would say the role for safeguarding should be within the official channels; this is surely a role the health visitor can play? The child will be under 5 and so it would be surely obvious if the health visitor has not had engagement from the parent?

It would be difficult for a local authority official to determine the “quality” of home education. If I was to take advice from someone about how to home educate my child I would except the person giving the advice to have home educated their own children and also have some teaching credentials. Even then, they would not be best placed to advise as they do not know my child. I can imagine that any local authority appointed person would be a jobsworth with a list. You cannot easily quantify or measure happiness, well-being, creativity, skill, personal qualities….and this has always been a problem for OFSTED.

I believe advice must be available for parents as some may need some direction, but this should not be compulsory as it takes away the fundamental right of a parent to determine the values through which their child is educated.

If the government are looking the develop the role of the LA this should be to provide resources to enrich the home education local offer not to check up and regulate and should never be forced upon parents. Assistance with exams would be helpful as home educated children often find these very hard to access and afford.


Why is a register needed? This would suggest to me that there would be a hierarchy of administrators checking up and that we were moving towards some kind of Ofsted regulation which is exactly what most parents are trying to get away from for the reasons outlined above. If this is for safeguarding purpose then it seems to me the system is working (as explained above).


It is my observation from attending home education groups and speaking with parents that there are a number of children who are home educated because their needs cannot be met in schools. Funding for SEN support has been cut back so much that there is just not the support available in schools so, rather than put their children and teachers in an impossible situation, parents choose to take on the responsibility of educating their child themselves, often with great stress to the family. Some have EHCPs and cannot easily access any of this as they are not in school. I do feel, as an ex-SENCO, that financial support should be made available for these parents. There should be a way they can use their personal budget, overseen by a third party, for the child’s education.


Aside from this, when any parent takes responsibility for their child’s education they are saving the LEA a considerable amount of money every year (we are essentially privately educating our children)and it would be good if some benefit could be passed on – this could in the form of free museum passes, perhaps access to sport / swimming lessons and other educational benefits. There should also be help for children to access GCSE exams as at the moment the provision for this is sketchy. This is not for the want of the parents wanting their children to do formal exams but that often no provision has been made or it is costly.


This is often used as a reason to regulate home education so it needs to be made clear that these processes already exist and should not be used as a reason. Extremism is also often used as a reason (as it has been in France recently). I cannot see how home educated children are more at risk. This kind of indoctrination often takes place in places of worship for example. It may be taking place in the home but children who are at school are still spending most of their time at home! There is no evidence whatsoever that this is related to home education at all and, again, I would be interested to compare the number of extremist children that are home educated as opposed to those who are in school.

I should imagine children who have been excluded and therefore forced to home educate would be picked up by the LA as there is an official process for excluding a child. Again, this would be signalled by the school when they notify the LA of a child deregistering.

I have not come across “off-rolling” happening to any of the home educated families I know. I would be interested to know how widespread this is or if it is being used as an excuse to regulate home educated children and families. I have also not come across any unregistered schools. I would not chose to send my child to any group that purported to be a “school” as I could have that for free if I wanted it! The groups we take part in focus on social skills and personal development, practical skills and also the child’s interests so that they have more time to gain greater expertise. For example, my son loves [sport] but there is no proper provision for this at school, particularly now. He is attending a home education group at a proper [sport] club accredited by the British [sport] Association and he is working towards badges and accreditation. When at school he was too tired to travel and go to such groups after school. All of the groups we attend have strict COVID policies in place in line with the government guidance for out of school settings.


the role that inspection should play in future regulation of home education

There is no role for this in home education. If the proper safeguarding measures are in place outlined above there is no need for it. The inspectors and the inspectees would have totally different agendas and briefs.

The focus of this whole inquiry is totally wrong; home education is not an easy option. Why would parents choose to NOT take advantage of free childcare? Why do they take charge of the education of their own children at their own cost and make huge adjustments to their lives? It is because schools are failing to provide an adequate education. The provision is narrow, indoor, not creative and uninspiring. SEN is poorly funded and for high school pupils bullying and mental health problems in teens are often such an issue that some parents literally feel that they have saved their child’s life by choosing to home educate.  The focus really needs to be on what schools are not doing well enough to prompt such decisions.


I personally have followed home education for a long time and cannot see that any additional support has been made available. We have a home education officer at the LEA who I think probably ensures the safeguarding aspect as I understand a number of families were ordered back to school which again shows that the system in place for safeguarding where needed is working.


the impact COVID-19 has had on home educated children, and what additional measures might need to be taken in order to mitigate any negative impacts.

COVID -19 has made schools go faster down a route they were already travelling towards narrow and risk averse education. In the words of my son “all the fun has been sucked out of life” when you attend school. Most children (my son included) will tolerate it but a spark inside them dies over time. If we are to create and educate the innovators of tomorrow we need people who have had an actual broad and balanced curriculum and who see learning as a love and not a chore.

Home education groups I have come across are all COVID – 19 compliant, all have track and trace in place and follow the government guidance for out of school settings. Therefore they pose no further risk to transmission of the virus. In fact they are less risky than school as they usually take place in the outdoors. Most schools haven’t had the courage or the foresight to adopt this approach as they are too concerned with a catch up curriculum.

Most parents would love to send their child to school, home education is not an easy option! But are responsible for out children’s education and well-being and schools are unable to provide this adequately.

I should imagine that the government has its hands full at this point in time and there are far more pressing issues educationally they could be looking at than trying to impose regulation and control upon home educating families. Our freedoms as a society are fast disappearing. The focus should be on the educational system itself; why is it failing? Why, despite all of the regulation from OFSTED are children no more numerate or literate than they were years ago? Why has the heart and soul been ripped out of schools so that they are becoming processing factories to churn out carbon copies with no free thinking creativity and innovation? What can the government do about the fact that teachers are disheartened and leaving the profession in droves? Focus on the actual problem and not on the solution that many creative and innovative parents have taken! Perhaps the education system has more to learn from home educators than we do from it!


October 2020