Written evidence submitted by Carter


Elective Home Education


Firstly, home education is not a safeguarding concern.  It’s also not the duty of the Local Authority to assure the quality of home education – this is the remit of the parent.


I can write a lot about the benefits of home education.  We have been home educating since year 8 (child would now be in year 11) – I have a child with SEND including severe autism.  To simplify matters, at the beginning of year 8, the school informed us that my child could no longer attend her mainstream catchment secondary as they could not meet her needs.  We had a long meeting with the SEND department who could not find a school that could. All the ‘local’ SEND schools were for children with learning difficulties and we were recommended an SEMH school several miles out of our area that was essentially a home for Looked After Children with Learning Difficulties, in spite of my child not having either SEMH or learning difficulties.  I was very visibly upset that the LA thought that a children’s home accepting day pupils with LA money was appropriate.  Given the lack of choices, we eventually decided to home educate.  The early days were difficult as my child loved going to school but after a settling in period, the gains were clear.  One benefit of home education is that the exam period can be split up and exams done in different years and different settings.  This is the traditional route of home education, largely to spread the costs of exams out and the associated stress.  At the end of year 10, my child was due to sit 4 IGCSEs for which we managed to get Centre Assessed Grades due to working with the Exam Centre and DLPS/tutors.  She achieved grade 9 passes in Maths and Physics, a grade 8 in Geography and a 7 in Computer Science.  Clearly, whoever thought she should be in a specialist school for children who were still in the early stages of learning to read was wrong.  My child would have just been left to rot in a system that isn’t designed to take account of neurologically diverse children.  We intend to remain home educating until university.  The disadvantages of home education are cost, primarily the loss of a wage and especially the cost of public exams.  We do spend a lot of money on Distance Learning Providers and Tutors but I bear in mind that most children in school have tutors for certain subjects at key times leading up to examinations.


I did watch a programme about home education and was quite disturbed to see that it included a piece about illegal schools.  There is separate legislation that deals with unregulated/illegal schools. It is not a home education issue, but a school one.  Off-rolling is an issue among the home educating community and more work needs to be done to highlight the issues, starting with schools. Local Authorities should be able to offer EOTAS with a personal budget in cases like mine.  However,  our LA does not offer this and parents have to take up a legal fight for it.  Most parents of SEND children like mine face this dilemma:  is it better to spend all my time fighting the Local Authority for the things that are rightfully due to my child or do I spend that time looking after my child? It is often not possible to do both.  My child was very definitely not off-rolled – I sent a very clear instruction for my child’s name to be removed from the register.


The role of EHE Inspectors in our area is critically dire.  There are rumours that in our LA, the instruction to remove a child from the register is not happening.  I’ve heard that LA policy is that a multi-agency meeting has to take place first.  This is utter poppycock.  Pupil Registration Regulations 2006 makes it absolutely clear that the deregistration letter is an instruction to remove from the register and that the LA are neglecting their legal responsibilities by targeting new home educators who are not so well versed in the Law.  The only exception to this instruction to remove from the roll is when a child is in a SEND school where consent for removal from the register is needed from the LA.   EHE officers are asking for ‘samples of work’ and asking how many hours is given over to home education in a week, knowing full well that ‘full time’ is not defined in Law and that home educators do not have to hand over samples of work to show that a full-time and appropriate education is taking place.  The previous EHE officer that we had was well versed in home education law and could give out information about suitable home education courses in college, school information for those who wanted it and we felt well supported by him.  He was axed in a ‘reorganisation’ because the LA could no longer afford him.  He has since been replaced by three people who have no knowledge of the law and are doorstepping people (this is regarded as an unprofessional practice).  EHE is now in the domain of the ‘Inclusion and Children Out of School’ department, which sounds rather misleading. I think this needs to be changed back and that the new EHEs need further training in how home education works in practice and the laws that govern home education so that no more misleading information is given out.


COVID 19 has had an impact, more people are deregistering now that perhaps did not want to do so but had little choice due to shielding.  There needs to be a way that these people can get the correct information about home education to make an informed decision before deregistration, rather than the misinformation and threats of multi-agency meetings given by our Local Authority.  For those pupils who would be in year 11, I think that special provisions should be taken to enable them to take the exams for their existing courses.  Typically, home educated children have to take IGCSEs for certain subjects.  For those of us planning this, it isn’t an issue, but for a child to be pulled out of school due to Covid months before the exams, I think some allowance should be made for this.


In balance, with the benefit of hindsight, I can positively say that home education remains my first choice.  The benefits and opportunities for my child through home education do not compare to the institutionalisation recommended by the SEND department.  Education should be about opening doors and enabling children to reach their potential – regardless of disability.


October 2020