Written evidence submitted by a member of the public


Education Committee – Call for Evidence:  Home Education


Submitted by Sarah Davey, home educating parent

Further to deregistering our daughter from her mainstream school during year 4, we have been home educating for a year and a half. We decided to home educate as she was not sufficiently supported at school and [personal information].  I wished to submit evidence to the Committee as I feel so strongly about the reasons why we are home educating.

We deregistered through the proper channels and subsequently registered with our local authority as home educators.  Although the home education team from the local authority visited us a year ago, we have had no contact from them since. 

There is no financial support for home educators, but I have paid for annual subscriptions to Twinkl and IXL and purchased the relevant text books for years 4, 5 and 6.  I also use many home educating forums on facebook for information and ideas.  I pay an annual subscription to Office 365. 

My daughter, who would now be in [school year], attended a school where the infant and junior schools were joined but on separate sites, with different headteachers.  Our concerns started in infant school when she would come home and [personal information]Over time we noticed they eased during the holidays.  So, I regularly approached school with my concerns, but was told she was meeting academic expectations and showed no signs of [personal information].  By the end of [personal information], no one was offering help to us.  [personal information]

When she then started the junior department we met with its headteacher and SENCO (who despite working at the infant site had never become involved in our concerns).  They finally listened and suggested [personal information].  At this point, we did feel we were starting to get the support we thought we needed.  A year later she was finally diagnosed.  During this time I researched [personal information] to find techniques for us to help her.  I came across references to [personal information].  This was my “lightbulb” moment.  She showed many traits associated with [personal information] and techniques to help manage [personal information] were the only ones that helped. [personal information]

School told us they could manage her [personal information], but it became clear that they couldn’t. 

Rather than writing a list of school failures, I have quoted ways to support a child with [personal information] given by those who have experience and given examples of how school failed my daughter. 

[personal information]

Understand the individual child and meeting their individual needs (not treating all children the same, with the same strategies)
There was another girl in her class with [personal information] but who showed her behaviour in class.  By [school year] the teacher assumed that what interested this girl would also interest by daughter, not treating them as individuals but collectively.  The strategies for both children were very different.  In fact, this other girl, because she showed her behaviour in class, got more support and attention than my daughter did, being left to struggle in silence.  My daughter even said the teacher assumed she would have the same interests.

Commitment to working closely and openly with families
We built up a relationship with her junior school headteacher and SENCO but at class teacher level it was different.  In [school year] we had a home/school communication book, but it went “missing” for over a month at the end of the first time in [school year].  After a long email after the Christmas holidays about my daughter’s struggles it “reappeared”.  She didn’t want my input to help her – she wanted to do it her way.  My daughter became [personal information] about school trips.  When I raised my concerns about a visit to a local museum in [school year] her teacher replied that when my daughter realised she was the only one who did not want to go, she would go.  Her teacher had worked out that my daughter didn’t like to look different in front of her class ([personal information]) and so knew she would “toe the line”.  However, this would be at great cost to my daughter’s [personal information].  This also broke down relations between my daughter and her teacher because she could see the teacher wasn’t trying to help her.

Listen to and believe parents’ stories as part of a holistic understanding
The SENCO and headteacher did listen, but on a daily basis her [school year] teacher lost interest as she also had to manage two pupils with [personal information].  As they were behind academically, these children were her priority. 

My daughter compartmentalized aspects of her life – school was school and home was home.  Once home, she rarely discussed any part of her school day or problems because that part of the day had passed and to her, she was in her safe place once home.  This created problems with homework as that meant a part of school was in her home environment.  Her [school year] teacher offered to adapt homework to concentrate of learning her times tables but this never happened.


Allow more processing time – [personal information]
Every week in junior school they had a times table test of 60 questions to be completed in 10 minutes.  My daughter struggled with this because the page was visually overwhelming, full of numbers before she even started.  However, a different teacher took her for maths but was not made aware of [personal information] so no adjustments were made.  Eventually her class teacher said she would speak to the maths teacher.  It became clear that where she had a different teacher for a subject, information was not shared and so it was like starting from scratch again.  The school put together an intervention plan in [school year], yet it was never passed onto [school year] at the start of the year so her class teacher had no idea what small amount of support she had in [school year].

By [school year], before a child could ask the teacher for help they had to try and resolve their problem themselves by asking the pupil they sat next to.  My daughter was lost in all of this, and it didn’t help if the child she was sitting next to wasn’t doing it correctly.  My daughter felt she couldn’t ask an adult for help.

Use visual clarification systems [personal information]
They introduced a visual timetable for my daughter in [school year] but she didn’t find it helpful, as it gave her time in the day to worry about what was coming up.      

Use novelty and variety …… to be engaging…
My daughter [personal information] with many of the topics at school, they caused her [personal information].  Many of the books she read raised [personal information] because she took things literally and no one explained their meanings – because my daughter comes across with a good understanding of the English language they thought she comprehended what she was reading.  In fact, although on the outside it looked like that, she lacked the depth of understanding.  For example, in [school year] they studied and wrote about Baba Yaga, a witch who steals, cooks, and eats her victims, usually children.

Use personal interests to set up missions, challenges and projects to engage a child.
Teachers only used the curriculum, no matter how much a child struggled.  My daughter didn’t like many of the topics they studied, especially as she also took what she was told literally.  For example, for half a term all their subjects focussed on the fire of London.  It was only in year 3 did the teacher say it couldn’t happen like that now because of houses being made of brick.


Reward systems don’t tend to work well for children and [personal information] because there are lots of demands involved. 
Every class had a behaviour traffic light system.  The top positions was the sunshine.  [child’s name] was [personal information] the whole time she was at school that she would be moved off the sunshine – she never was.

In junior school each child worked towards their pen licence.  This was to improve their handwriting and the reward at the end was to be able to work in pen.  On many occasions my daughter was given positive encouragement that she was near receiving her licence but for weeks she didn’t.  She continually asked me whether at Senior School she would still have to write in pencil.  Finally, she [personal information].  Only once I showed this to the Senco did the school appreciate how much the [personal information] of working to towards getting her pen was causing her. 

Remember sensory sensitivities because they are likely to impact many children with [personal information].
My daughter [personal information] at school:
She [personal information], it created too much bustle and [personal information]
She hated stuffy classroom atmospheres, feeling she couldn’t breathe. 
She disliked the environment of the classroom, corridor and daily assemblies in the large hall with the whole school.
She didn’t like the smell of the dining room.
She didn’t like the smell of other pupils’ deodorant.
She got a [personal information] learning from the projector screen.

The school changed their uniform at junior stage from polo neck and jumper to shirt, tie and jumper.  She didn’t like the shirt.  It was more restrictive than a polo neck.  Every morning it got harder and harder to get her ready for school.  The school policy changed as the executive head felt if you felt smart you would be ready for learning.  My daughter’s attitude was she could only learn if she was comfortable.  School only relented when I said I would have to find a new school for my daughter that wore a polo shirt as we were at school refusal stage.  She was then allowed to wear a polo shirt with her tie, although they hoped by the next winter she would be able to wear the shirt. 

In [school year] her teacher said she would create a [personal information] for my daughter to go to when she felt [personal information].  This never happened.

In [school year] we asked whether she could have a fiddle toy for when she was feeling [personal information].  We were told she could have a small amount of blue tac in her pocket so it wasn’t obvious, a fiddle toy is too obvious to other members of the class wanting one.

Think very carefully about what can be done to support the child’s emotional wellbeing. 
Following her [personal information], the SENCO told me it was not necessary to apply for an EHCP, that they could manage her [personal information].  However, it was very clear that a lot of my daughter’s [personal information] was driven by life at school.  She attended ELSA sessions on a one to one basis.  She enjoyed these as they were one to one with a member of staff and away from her classroom.  When I asked school if she would be able to continue these long term, as a reasonable adjustment for her coping with school, I was told no by the SENCO because the waiting list for the sessions were too long.

Understand the profile of the child who camouflages or “masks in school and then has [redacted] at home and realise that those two things are related.

Although the SENCO and headteacher of the junior school understood masking, my daughter’s teachers didn’t and assumed if she looked fine she was alright. 

Simple Strategies for supporting children with [personal information] school  Positive [personal information]; Zoe Syson and Dr Emma Gore Langton

“It is important to develop a strong relationship with a child who has high [redacted].”
In [school year] the SENCO recommended her class teacher make contact with her at the end of the day just to check in.  This stopped after a few weeks as the teacher ran out of time and my daughter looked okay.  My daughter felt let down by the teacher for not doing this.

Look at the day and week ahead, to anticipate what might be tricky for the child.  Identifying the predictable triggers will mean you can plan strategies in advance.
At the start of [school year] a member of staff highlighted the topics over the course of the academic year that my daughter may struggle with and adjustments that could be made to help her.  However, when it actually came to these topics her class teacher denied all knowledge of them being areas that she may struggle with, told us she had to learn them, we would be comprising her education if we didn’t. 

My daughter said school felt like prison.  She felt six hours a day of constant concentration was too much – it literally [personal information].  Since deregistering our daughter her [personal information] have disappeared.  She sleeps better as she isn’t worrying about the next day.  Since a young age she suffered from [personal information] and we were under the GP about this.  At junior school stage they could only access their bottles at breaktime and lunchtime.  I had to pay £40 for a doctors letter to allow her bottle to be on her desk otherwise she wouldn’t have any water all day. 

IHome educating our daughter lets us deliver a person centred education, tailored to her interests and delivered in a manner she will engage with.  We can provide variety, and change what we are doing if we see she is struggling.


She is in an environment she feels comfortable in, where her sensory tolerances are kept low.  She has time and space to learn about herself.  Since deregistering her the [personal information] have reduced in number greatly.  Occasionally after school she would [personal information] as I was her safe space from school.  Professionals liken this to a cola bottle gradually being shaken and then explodes.  I read numerous publications about personal information] to ensure I am able to meet her needs.



COVID-19 has had little impact on home educating as we have been able to carry on as we were.  I was able to access more resources online as home schooling pages were created.

October 2020