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.]


Call of Evidence response to Education Committee on Home Education



From: [name], home-educating parent in [county]



I am the mother of two home-educated daughters.


My elder daughter was home-educated from ages [ages] She gained a [academic award] and took her English GCSE as an independent candidate at a local high school. She is now [age]-years-old and studying for a [qualification] at a local college, gaining a Distinction*Distinction in her first year, and where she has also passed her Maths GCSE.


My younger daughter has been home-educated since she was [age] years old and is currently [age]-years-old and studying for Maths, English, Human Biology, Psychology and Environmental Management (i)GCSES.


Home education has been a highly positive route for both girls. They have benefitted from a personalised education programme, working at a pace appropriate to them, mixed with many opportunities, such as work experience and Young Leaders programmes, that they would not have been able to do had they been in school. My elder daughter has transitioned into college at age [age] very well, gaining higher grades than many of her school-aged peers.


Disadvantages for home-educated children 


However, I would like to bring to your attention disadvantages that all home educated children face, namely the difficulty in finding an exam centre at which to sit GCSE (and A-level) exams, and the cost of sitting these exams as a private student.


Lack of financial support for home-educated children, especially with regard to exams


Home-educated children receive no financial support towards items such as textbooks or exam fees – or indeed any financial support for any education materials at all.


·                Depending on the number of GCSEs children are studying, parents have to pay £160 to £400+ to purchase textbooks and student workbooks.


Extreme difficulty in accessing schools/exams centres to sit GCSE exams


It is extremely difficult to find an exam centre where home-educated children can take their exams. This is a major cause of stress, takes a great deal of time to arrange, and can prevent children gaining qualifications which they otherwise would be able to.


We have experienced this directly and I hear the same situation from hundreds of home-educating families nationwide.


·                Local authorities do not have information on which schools accept individual candidates and LEAs are not supporting home-educating families at all in this matter. Every individual family has to go through this find-a-centre process alone, rather than there being one easily-accessible national scheme.


·                Most schools refuse to allow home-educated children to sit exams with them and there are few independent exam centres in the county.


·                Many children cannot take GCSEs in subjects which they want to, because there is no local school which will allow them to sit exams – even though these schools have their own students sitting the exact exams that the home-educated children want to access. This disadvantages home-educated children, limiting their qualification options.


·                It is unfair, and frankly ridiculous, that home-educated children can’t be given a desk alongside all other students in the exam hall so that they are able to sit existing exams locally.


·                Once an exam place is obtained, home-educated children are disadvantaged further in many cases because the only exam centres available are a great distance from their home, meaning, on the morning that they are due to sit exams – already a stressful time – they have to get up extremely early and travel for hours to get to the exam centre, or in some cases have to go to the additional expense and upheaval of paying for hotel accommodation the night before every exam.


Unfair cost of sitting exams as an external candidate


Once a place to sit the exams is located, home-educated children are further disadvantaged because they have to pay the school/exam centre to take the exams.


·                The average cost to sit a GCSE exam is around £100, meaning each child may have to pay £500 - £1100 to sit a set of qualifications.


·                Children at school do not have to pay to take their GCSEs/A-levels, and so these fees are unfair and disadvantageous to home-educated children.


·                The parents of home-educated children in effect have to pay twice for their children to access exams when other parents do not have to: firstly contributing to the education budget as taxpayers, and secondly having to pay fees as external candidates.



Solutions to address these disadvantages


To address these disadvantages and ensure home-educated children get access to qualifications, there are two easy solutions:


1.               All home-educated children who are entered to sit GCSE exams should receive a grant to cover the cost of textbooks, student workbooks and exam centre fees. A sum of around £250 per GCSE subject should be given.


2.               All schools should be required to accept home-educated children to sit GCSE exams, alongside their own school students. The cost for this should either be paid in the same way these costs are covered for school-attending students or home-educated students should be given a grant to cover these fees (as described in point 1. above).



 October 2020