Written evidence submitted by Lee


My response to the Open Consultation on Elective Home Education.



                                          From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

                                          Article 26; 'Everyone has the right to education.

                                   Education shall be directed to the full development

                                   of the human personality and to the strengthening of

                                   respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

                                   Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of

                                   education that shall be given to their children.'




I am writing this response as a mother who home educates her three children. I say three, even though my youngest is two years away from being school age as - like most other home educators - I believe that education begins at birth. It does not start at age 5 and finish at age 18. It does not begin at 9am and end at 3pm; five days a week, 39 weeks a year. It is a lifelong journey, that should always be pursued with enthusiasm and bring joy.


After successfully teaching my children to walk, talk, dress themselves, wash themselves, eat solid foods, drink from cups, table manners, social cues etc. I do not believe then that I would need to hand them over to the mainstream school establishment. This is not to say that mainstream school was not considered, after all fewer families home educate than send their children to school. From most conversations I have had with peers, this is largely due to financial circumstances – they need to go to work so have to send their child to state funded childcare i.e. school. Choosing to home educate meant straying away from the norm. After reflecting on my own state funded education at various different UK schools across the world (my father was in the armed forces, so I would like to point out that a lot of these schools were of the highest standards), reflecting on my 16 year old stepsons disastrous journey through the school system and from viewing schools in my area, I stood by my convictions. Those being that the best place for my children to get a good quality education, to develop into well rounded human beings and to learn how to socialise in a safe, non hostile environment was for them to be home educated.


To begin with we accepted a few visits from our local home education officer. These were unhelpful to say the least. The officer didn't seem to understand the difference between homeschooling and homeeducating. The officer also had no personal experience herself of home education. She was not home educated nor did she home educate her children. This I found very odd, and so when I discovered that I have no legal obligation to put up with such, intrusive and useless visits I politely declined future ones. I would like to add a caveat that the lady was very polite and kind, the visits were just a complete waste of our time.


It puzzles me given all that I know and have experienced, that there is calls within government to hold a register of home educating families and for these families to be monitored on a regular basis. I understand that there is a concern for children who may need extra support and are not receiving it at home. But those children exist in droves within the mainstream school system and the government does very little to solve those issues. In fact, according to a report published by the national education union, £5.4 billion has been cut from school budgets since 2015 https://neu.org.uk/funding/school-funding-new-analysis-shows-cut-from-school-budgets.


I understand also the desire to ensure that children are being adequately cared for at home when home educated. And yet children who attend school in the UK have been reported as becoming increasingly unhappy with school according to a report carried out by The Children's Society. I can only imagine that this will increase even further as schoolchildren are now not allowed to sing happy birthday at school, are being made to stand back to back when talking to one another and children are being made to sit in freezing cold classrooms as teachers insist on keeping the windows open https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/schoolchildren-banned-singing-happy-birthday-22823452. Recently I came across this report that I believe would be in your best interest to read, http://www.home-education.org.uk/articles/article-safeguarding-myth.pdf  the following are direct quotes 'Far from being ‘invisible’,home educated children appear to be disproportionately scrutinised, in that they are twice as likely to be subject to a referral to Social Services. This finding is supported by research in Wales21 which used FOI requests to Local Authorities and found that:‘...home educated children, although more likely to be scrutinised by social services than their schooled peers, are less likely to be at risk (between 0.061% and 0.123%) than all children in Wales (0.461%) i.e. at between 1/7th and 1/3rd the risk.’ '


'The 2014 NSPCC23report refers specifically to home educated children being denied the right to formally express their views or participate in decision making in respect to home education. Yet no process is in place to allow schooled children to take part in the decision to send them to school or to express their views about being sent to school. It is the duty of the parent to ‘cause’ the child to receive a suitable education and the law recognises that a parent may choose to do so by educating the child otherwise than at school. It is expected of all parents that they act in the best interests of their child, which would include considering the child’s wishes and feelings when making decisions. However, despite children not being routinely involved in decision making when school places are sought, no criticism is made of parents of schooled children in this regard.'


'Indeed, investigations by the Education Select Committee led the Chair to suggest that home educating parents do a ‘better job’ of providing a suitable education for their children '


In addition I understand that the government wants to ensure that home educated children get the same start in life as school children do, yet this didn't seem to be a priority when this Summer, home educated children did not receive their exam grades due to the exams being cancelled, whereas school children did. Some parents of home educated children didn't receive a refund for the fees they had paid for the exams, so they will have to pay twice and only receive one qualification, all while the child has to put their future on hold  https://phys.org/news/2020-08-home-educated-children-left-qualifications-exams.html .


The reason I have stated the above points is to illustrate the fact that while the government wishes to impose restrictions and intrusiveness on home educating families, they themselves fail to withhold a high standard of care or education towards children who attend school. Mainstream schools are consistently monitored and yet they fail millions of children every year, if not in an academic sense but an emotional or mental one. Teachers are witnessing a sharp decline in pupils mental health leading to anxiety, self harm and in some cases suicide https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/apr/17/mental-health-young-people-england-crisis-point-teacher-school-leader-survey . One of the main reasons cited by parents who pull their children from mainstream school is mental health. They notice their children becoming more miserable, shadows of their former selves and attending school is a direct cause. Once they deregister and their child knows they no longer have to be subjected to such an arbitrary institution they relax and can enjoy learning again. The media has reported that the rise in families choosing to home educate this year is due to 'anxieties around covid 19', however this is a vast exaggeration and is probably only true of a handful of individuals. I am a member of many home education groups in my area and all of the new parents that have joined have done so because the time away from school and educating at home during lockdown, showed them how much better off their children were.


Home educating families are not the ones that need to be closely monitored. We have been thriving on our own without any interference or support whatsoever up until now and I know that despite the current challenges we face now with Covid 19, we will continue to thrive, our children will thrive and will reach adulthood with their mental and emotional well being intact. Best of all, they will know exactly who they are and where they want to go next with their lives.



I would like to end my response with some facts about home education that you may or may not be aware of:


         A study conducted by Raymond and Dorothy Moore in the 1970s showed startling differences between home schooled children and their peers, leading them to conclude that early school attendance may actually inhibit childhood development. They suggested that being under the influence of warm, loving parents and allowed to learn through exploration was infinitely more successful at an age when the brain is not sufficiently developed to benefit from the strict regimen of formal school classes and rules.

         Studies have suggested that home schooled children on average perform 30% higher than their peers in testing

         In spite of the obvious fears for their social development, a 2003 study carried out in the US showed that 71% of home school graduates are active in their communities and participate in community projects such as coaching a local team or volunteering at school, compared to just 37% of the general population. They were more engaged and active in politics too, with 76% using their vote compared to just 29% of the corresponding US populace. Perhaps most importantly of all, 59% of home schooled adults reported that they were “very happy” with their lives compared to just 28% of the general US population.


Why Home Educating is Necessary


         Parents can adapt the curriculum and the learning surroundings according to the psyche of each child

      Children can attain more academic accomplishments than in schools

      Other than typical institutional schools you get to use pedagogical approaches for learning

      Family relationships of children get improved with parents and siblings

      There is ample opportunity for young peers and grown-ups to have rational social interactions

      Children can be provided with a safer environment excluding of physical violence, psychological abuse, racism, drugs, alcohol, and inappropriate and damaging sexual interactions which can come with external schools

      It gives the opportunity to educate and pass on to children particular principles, viewpoints, and worldviews.


October 2020