Written evidence submitted by Kate Sharp

Gloucestershire is an exemplary county to home educate in, due to the local authority’s warmth to and understanding of home education. They trust and support established and secure home educators with a light touch, and with active relationship building. They are there for us if we need them and if we are happy home educating they concentrate their resources on supporting and investigating families where they have concerns.

I believe it would be helpful to have a register of home educated children for the completeness of records. However, many children vary between school and home education so it would need work to keep it up to date. I do not believe it would be helpful to have a register if it is used as a tool of discrimination against home educating families.

Home educated children benefit from personalised learning opportunities which suit their interests, abilities and level of maturity. They learn from life, which gives them a confidence and independence in real world situations. Home education lends itself to entrepreneurialism and adaptation, two vital qualities in today’s changing world. Potential disadvantages may be economic because the equivalent of one parent’s income is lost (even if both parents share the paid work and education load). Universal Basic Income would be an excellent way to address this. I notice in this very consultation that if I put in ‘full time home education parent’ as my job, I am prompted to complete an organization. Let’s change this narrative so that the criteria are not merely economic or institutional.

The support from the local authority is present; I find the local online community of home education parents a great resource. Some of these I know in person too, of course.

I trust the LA to pursue cases of suspected off-rolling with diligence. I would suggest that additional funds to employ more staff would help them to do their job more thoroughly.

I do not believe that any additional level of inspection would be at all relevant or beneficial to my home educating lifestyle. Trusting in the perpetual nature of learning is one of the great joys of home education. It requires a level of reinterpretation of one’s own educational experiences and the expectations of schools, which might not be a comfortable experience for any adults who have fully believed in the school system, but is one that can lead to startling revelations. Carol Black’s essay ‘The Gaze’ is a helpful read http://carolblack.org/the-gaze

COVID-19 has had a positive effect on our home education journey. It allowed both parents to be around so that the children had more individually focused time to play and learn. We explored more of our local green spaces and woodlands for a greater connection to nature due to the playgrounds being closed. It helped us re-evaluate the level of activity we participated in and we realized that the children benefited from simpler, home-based time to relax rather than lots of more structured meet ups.

October 2020