Written evidence submitted by a member of the public


I am writing to submit my evidence with regards to this consultation. 


I electively home educate my [age] year old and have a [age] year old on EOTAS , fully funded by the LA. 


I never expected to be a home educating family. I went through mainstream school and despite finding it incredibly difficult and , at times , traumatic,  (I was diagnosed in adulthood with autism and OCD) I still believed enough in it to send my children to mainstream school. I also originally trained as anEnglish literature teacher with a BEd Hons but left after becoming disheartened with the education system. 


My eldest child [personal information].


This was the level of “education” my child received. [personal information]. 


By [personal information].   School excluded him aged [age] on the grounds they didn’t know what to do with him. I was then left with zero educational provision for 8 months. Nothing. No work sent home, no one checking on his education and no one supporting us. He was then offered a place in a [personal information]. Here, he became worse and worse as anyone with common sense knows that behaviour breeds behaviour, all it did was [personal information]. 


Aged [age] we pulled him under huge safeguarding issues that were reported to OFSTED. I refused to deregister as I knew that meant no support but refused to send him in under huge safety risks and poor inadequate staff. [personal information]. 


Despite many reports being changed and amended, the originals all “lost” and several complaints of abuse from other parents and children at the PRU, OFSTED brushed it all under the carpet. However the school, to protect themselves, excluded him aged [age]. This time we were left non electively home educating for 2 years. Again, zero interaction or support form the LA. Constantly I was fighting for social care and education support and getting nowhere. 


All this time, I refused to ever allow my child to fall behind acedemically so I funded his education. Getting myself £15k of debt over the 4.5 years  in the process. I sought SEN tutors , used daily resources online that I purchased and funded eveyrhing from his swimming lessons to music lessons, English to maths , outdoor ed school and forest and beach school and various day trips for educational purposes. 


We were then offered a placement at a new SEND school and we loved it. At first there were only 8 pupils and he thrived. They used  thrive and emotion coaching models and wanted to become a hub for [personal information]. He loved attending, albeit only 8-10 hours a week max, so never getting his FT education that should legally be provided (not forgetting the 2.5 years of zero education provided by the LA). 


However, as that school expanded he became quickly  disengaged and couldn’t cope. [personal information] they agreed they couldn’t support him and they agreed to an EOTAS package. At the same time, social care tried  to take me through a 6 month court case to get a court order for shared parental responsibility so they could send him 450 miles away to a totally unsuitable lock up type school. The judge not only threw their case out but chastised them for the lack of education, social care and health support and insisted  they sort that out immediately. They hated it but have slowly had to put that EOTAS package of care in. We are now embroiled in a JR against our LA. 


For the last 2 years he’s been EHE under EOTAS and he’s done incredibly well. Not only has he moved from P scales to NC levels , He became a fully qualified first aider by [age] and even helped the training company run 2 courses teaching other children (so much for [personal information]) , is now reading GCSE level books and has been selling his art commissions via his own online shop for fun. He has found a love of art and art therapy has been the making of him and we have just applied for his own workshop with shop area he’s so that even at [age] he has access to a career path. Not locked up in a unit hundreds of miles away with no access to the community. He’s also started his climbing qualifications on [location]. 


He also volunteers weekly at the local homeless and vulnerable adults centre,  feeding people and helping with the food bank. He has almost completed his DoE and socially and academically he is thriving. He has SEND tutors that I sought for maths, English, French and art and we are currently sourcing a music tutor. 


My youngest is [age]. Aged [age] he was given the choice of EHE the same as his brother but he chose school. Foundation year, he coped really well due to a fabulous teacher. Year two he was struggling due to his own SEND and time after time we were promised better support in class. He never received it despite even promises from the executive head for the MAT!  [personal information]. 


[personal information] so, after begging the school to fulfil their promises duties , I pulled him 2 days after  his [age] birthday. He has remained EHE since so for 3 years now and is thriving. [personal information].


He is classed as academically gifted by his Ed psych and found to be around 4 years ahead of his peers and is current being taught core maths and English at early GCSE level. He has maths and English sEN tutoring , French lessons, parkour classes, is a [qualification] (so can sea dive aged [age] which is great as his dream is to become a [profession]).  [personal information]. He now has an EHCP in place and the LA are working with me to see if they will find some of his EHE via EOTAS. 


We have received far better education , socialisation and empathy from the EHE community than we ever received in school. For both of my children. They went [personal information] members of the community as a result of EHE. It is exhausting , it’s hard work and foreign but by far the best thing I ever did for my children. Where was the EHE and EWO when schools were failing my children? Did registration and constant checking help either of my children in school? Did a mainstream education following the NC help my children thrive academically? Did being [personal information] help my child to socialise in school? It is incredibly frustrating to hear that those who have been the most accepting, the most supportive and the most empathetic towards my child are facing a failing “school” type system which is why they pulled their children in the first place! 


I now spend my spare time assisting other families to get the correct educational support for their children , be that EHCP , school support or SEND support at the LA. And yet time and time again I am meeting families who are either coerced by schools into removing their children to “not be prosecuted”

Or have SEND  children not able to cope on the limited choices of eduction available to them that do not meet their child’s needs and then their parents remove them they are threatened with court action or education orders! Where was the support in education for those? Locally, an FOI showed that 3/4 of the EHE and EWO prosecutions were of SEND children where many complaints had been made for lack of support and intervention yet fallen on deaf ears. When presented with those facts the heads of education and SEND were quite shocked. 


This whole system is a shambles. So many home educating families are being dragged through awful systems with over zealous home education and EWO officers abusing their positions and illegally telling families that if they don’t supply “evidence” or attend a register they will force education orders on them! Some areas, like [city council], are daily abusing those rights and even when families have exercised their legal rights to refuse a home meeting have been told if they do not supply lengthy daily reports, timetables and “proof” via date stamped “work” they will class their education as unsuitable; which is  against their legal rights to educate to age, aptitude and ability and not to have to follow a set curriculum. They are basically forcing NC learning on children who effectively do not wish to or are unable to learn that way. Which is against the law. Yet are getting away with it because no one is able to challenge them. 


I hope that this survey highlights not only the less mainstream education is in right now , but also the failing systems that are failing many many children across the country and rather than deal with the culprit schools using thwor Secretary of State rights , they are pushing the blame onto parents and not those failing them. 

Though judging by previous cinsumatatiins I’ve been involved in I can only assume the negative contact like this will remain “hidden.” 


What should be happening, as brought up by OFSTED but not acted upon, is you should be checking why mainstream schools are failing so many children with SEND (be that autism, physical disability or mental health / anxiety) and forcing their families into EHE purely because they are being threatened with prosecution when the very agencies designed and paid to assist are ignoring the core issue. 


In my EHE journey I initially found the idea of autonomous learning incredulous. I couldn’t understand how a child would fully learn without NC styles of teaching. And these families blew me away. Initially I was worrying how a child of 6 would ever read without following standardised phonics but then watched as they slowly taught themselves and now have amazing reading abilities far beyond their years. I watched children not being taught maths as a “subject” suddenly come into themselves when they went shooting and could mentally work out their change in the blink of an eye despite no formal maths tuition. And I then went from a super organised NC timetabled parent to one who relaxed and watched my children actually enjoy learning. 


My advice for this consolation; ask the children. Speak to those in schools and those in EHE and see what they have to say. Stop over zealous EWOs taking over the EHE community because they have archaic  and pre conceived ideas on other learning styles. Yes of course you need to safeguard children but when nearly ever major high profile safeguarding case has been a schooled child, then that is a ridiculous and unfair argument  for registration. If you spoke to most EHE families who left education for EHE you will see time and time again the abuse their children sustained within school so much that many are now being labelled with “school related anxiety” and PTSD as a result of school but not EHE. Speak with Camhs on these cases and hear what they have to say about the trauma children are experiencing in a broken system. 


I’m sorry for the length of this but as a parent who fell into this by proxy I can hand on heart say that my children are happier, mentally and physically healthier and academically ahead as a result of EHE so maybe the focus should be on why schools are failing so many children in the first place. 


Marie Ralph  


October 2020