Written evidence submitted by Kate Barnard


The duties of local authorities with regards to home education: reactive duty to intervene only if parents are unable to fulfil their duty to provide a suitable education. Written Parliamentary Answers, 10 May 2019 “Local authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis. “


Safeguarding: Home education is not a safeguarding issue. Elective home education departmental guidance for LAs states “7.3 There is no proven correlation between home education and safeguarding risk.


Assuring the quality of home education: the duty of parents, not the local authority. The local authority have a duty to provide suitable school places for those that require them and should only concern themselves with home education where the parents request assistance.


Whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required: NO


Benefits children gain from home education: The benefits of elective home education are many and varied, including but not limited to...


        The home is a secure platform from which to explore the wider world

        Secure attachments with parents and siblings

        Intrinsic motivation, children work hard

        Flexible, learner centred education

        Focus on personalised education-the only way to ensure that an education is suitable to the child's age, ability and aptitude

        Time to explore the child's own interests, set their own goals

        Child can work at their own pace-an academic child can delve deeply into a subject for as long as they wish without interruption, a more hands-on type child is not considered to be "behind" because they prefer to work in a different fashion

        Opportunities to spend lots of time outdoors and in nature

        Focus on nurturing physical and mental health

        Wide range of social opportunities through family, friends and shared interest groups, not limited to children of the same age

        Very small facilitator:student ratio means material can be covered quickly, student is supported in their studies

        Strong foundations of understanding, take the time it takes for the child to understand a topic

        More family time-with grandparents, extended family

        Focus on personal growth and development, not limited to a narrow set of exams

        Life skills, soft skills, transferable skills needed to live as part of society; eg domestic work, household finances and budgeting, banking, speaking to people on the telephone, sending emails, paying bills, time management, negotiation, healthy eating and nutrition

        Foster a love of lifelong learning, learning isn't something that stops when you "leave school"

        Opportunities for arts, music, drama and other things being squeezed out of school timetables

        Opportunity for the child to discover their passions early on and turn it into a career; or to change their mind many times and pursue many interests

        Flexible timetable allows for healthy sleep patterns

        No uniforms allows freedom of personal expression

        Diverse and varied home ed community, inclusive atmosphere

        Reduced peer pressure and bullying, parental modelling and support helps children work on friendships, working together, team work

        Strong local and national support network, with online and in-person groups, meets and activities


Disadvantages: Very few.
Reduction in number of exam centres catering to external students. Parents need to be willing to invest time and money in booking exams and to travel long distances for their children to be able to sit exams.


Quality and accessibility of support: generally poor and delivered in a hostile environment. Eg placing "elective home education" in the category of "children missing education" on letter headings and refusing to alter this even after complaints. Changing the title of the home education advisor to an inspector or investigator, which assumes that there is something to investigate.


Whether the current regulatory framework is sufficient: when used correctly, yes. Better training of LA staff needed to make sure the current framework is understood and implemented appropriately. Wider understanding and acceptance of home education methods and motivation is needed.


Unregistered schools, have been formally excluded from school, or have been subject to ‘off-rolling’: These are not home education issues, they are failings of the school system and should be addressed as such. Unregistered schools are illegal and the legislative framework exists to regulate them-either by registration or closing down. The LA already has a duty to provide education to school pupils who have been excluded, exclusion is not elective home education. Off rolling is illegal and the LA already have a duty to prevent schools doing this and to provide education to excluded pupils. The conflation of school failings with elective home education is one example of the lack of understanding which exists in local and central government and does nothing to help either side.


The role that inspection should play in future regulation of home education: NONE. LAs already have a duty to step in if it appears that an education is unsuitable, in the absence of any concerns parents should be assumed to be fulfilling their duty. Pre 2019 guidance, it was stated that s436a (19996 Education Act) did not apply to home education.




What improvements have been made to support home educators since the 2010-15 Education Committee published their report on ‘Support for Home Education’ in 2012: NONE that I am aware of.


Paragraph 28 "The team within which local authority home education officers sit can give out an important message about that authority’s view of home education. For example, it is inappropriate for such officers to be located with those working on attendance, children in care or safeguarding" - As mentioned above, this hasn't changed even after complaints to the person in question.


Paragraph 43 on access to exam centres: "It does not seem reasonable to us that home educators in some areas have such a struggle accessing examinations centres for their children. We recommend that the Government place a duty on every local authority to ensure access to local centres for home-educated young people to sit accredited public examinations."  The number of exam centres willing to allow home educated students to sit exams has gone down.


Impact COVID-19 has had on home educated children: in my own case home education continues to be a positive experience, our house is configured for learning, we have numerous books and resources, my children are used to working from home, they are hard working and self motivated and so we could continue with minimum disruption compared to some of their school going peers who had very little support/motivation. My children manage their own time and have numerous projects ongoing, they are rarely bored and normally productively engaged with something. We already had a strong support network in place so, although it was disappointing not to be able to see friends face to face, we were able to carry on online, with remote meetings, games playing, letter writing etc. with friends and family in this country and abroad. Spending lots of time outside was another bonus, as we already had our outside space organised for learning.


Additional measures might need to be taken in order to mitigate any negative impacts: provision of exam centres so every external candidate that wants to has access to affordable, local exams.



October 2020