Written evidence submitted by Tutors & Futures




I run a tuition company which primarily serves the home education community. Over the past six years, I have worked with hundreds of home educated students across the United Kingdom. I also set up an education centre in Manchester which acted as a hub for the home education community.


The duties of local authorities with regards to home education, including safeguarding and assuring the quality of home education


Many home educating parents are wary of local authorities due to the number of times there has been conflict between them and the community. It is fair to say that a number of local authorities have reputations for being particularly dismissive of home educators. I have heard numerous stories about parents being harassed and hounded by the visitors from their local authority. In some cases, this had led the parents to totally shut off communication with the local authority. In these instances those who suffer the most are the children as they recognise the rising conflict.

We believe that there should be a nationalised approach to communication.

  1. Each local authority should follow the same steps when communicating with a newly home educating family.
    1. Introduce themselves and ask if the parents/guardians have any questions.
    2. Provide them with a PDF/booklet containing all of the information they will require during their home education journey.
    3. Ask about their plans for education in a way which doesn’t cause conflict as many parents feel that their methods are being questioned and they are being looked down upon for choosing home education as an option.
    4. Explain to them why it is important to maintain regular contact in order to safeguard the child.
    5. Set up an online portal where parents can go if they have any additional queries.
    6. Arrange webinars to support parents who require additional assistance.

Whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required


This is a highly contentious issue within the community, mainly due to the issues raised above. A statutory register would be acceptable if it fit within the aforementioned framework. It must be framed as a method of supporting families not, as it is now, framed in a way that suggests an attempt to catch parents out. Many home educators believe that the register would purely act as a way for local authorities to clamp down on home education and attempt to force children back into mainstream schooling.


If the register was set out in a more positive fashion, I believe that it could begin to build a bridge between local authorities and home educating families. It could help people understand why families are choosing to home educate, which would also allow the mainstream school system to be bettered.


The benefits children gain from home education


Home education allows children to learn at their own pace and follow their own path. Many children can get lost in the mainstream school system, whether it be due to anxiety, large class sizes, lack of relationship with a teacher, or a combination of all of these factors.


Learning at home can allow children to further develop their interests in specific topics rather than being dragged along by the national curriculum.


The potential disadvantages they may face


There are always potential disadvantages to any new endeavour but I believe they are relatively limited when it comes to home education. The main disadvantage is that parents aren’t always equipped with the requisite knowledge to guide their children on their journey. I am not necessarily referring to subject knowledge, more knowledge of the community itself. This then rubs off on the children and there can be a sense of panic when the family doesn’t know what to do.


The quality and accessibility of support (including financial support) available for home educators and their children, including those with special educational needs, disabilities, mental health issues, or caring responsibilities, and those making the transition to further and higher education


I believe that the issue of mental health is one that can be problematic for the home education community. Due to the fact that many parents can find themselves at odds with the local authority, children can feel that they are being left behind. I feel that there should be a central hub which allows the community to access support for mental health or SEN issues. This hub could allow weekly or monthly check-ins to monitor the progress of each individual. Many families end up paying extortionate fees for private referrals purely because they don’t have access to the same services as children in schools.


Whether the current regulatory framework is sufficient to ensure that the wellbeing and academic achievement of home educated children is safeguarded, including where they may attend unregistered schools, have been formally excluded from school, or have been subject to ‘off-rolling’;


I think there should be more formal contact between the local authority and newly registered home educators. Although the vast majority are choosing to home educate in the best interests of the child, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are best placed to guide said child. Paid support packages should be on offer to ensure that people are comfortable with the choice they have made.


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 shone the light on home education as more people have sought to understand whether it would be an option for them. The thousands of children who had to stay off school during lockdown were placed in a position that home educated children are more than used to. However, there was a lot of public outcry about the potential effects on their mental health during this period. There has never been such outcry when it comes to home educated children. Yes, they are out of school due to a voluntary decision but that doesn’t mean they should be left lacking in support. I believe that that is the biggest takeaway from the COVID situation.


Yours Sincerely,


Patrick Mather


October 2020