Written evidence submitted by Mrs Woodrow


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


Safe Guarding


Home educated children have been found to not be at increased safeguarding risk. In fact they are shown to be at lower risk than other children (in this report on home-education.org) because they are also not at risk from any potential safeguarding issues from school.


A statement from the above report says: “The perception of risk is also demonstrated to be false by the current research, which indicates that home educated children, whilst twice as likely to be referred to Social Services, are between 3.5 - 5 times less likely to have that referral lead to a CPP than are schooled children aged 5-16, and 5 - 7 times less likely than children aged 0-4 years. Further, the risk of a home educated child being subject to abuse is lower than the risk of an educational professional employed in a school being found guilty of abusing a child or children in their care.”


The fear is that home educated children are “invisible” to authorities, these statistics do not support this. In 2011, 3 serious case reviews were applicable to home educated children out of 67, all of whom were known to social services anyway. It seems they were not actually “invisible”.


The assumption that home education is a threat to safeguarding does not stand up to statistical analysis. Further analysis of the historical situation regarding home education safeguarding by data held by Local Authorities would demonstrate whether it is worth time or investment compared to other issues within those authorities.


Decisions regarding safeguarding should be evidence based and local only, they should be performed by social services independently of home education support.


This accusation tends to be one of the harmful myths that pops up, along with the opposite myth that home educating parents are overparenting. The truth is obviously that it is not extreme either way. Further more, if local authorities provide useful services and support it would be of benefit to home educated families to engage with them, and therefore the “invisible” children would be much less likely.




The quality of home education is the responsibility of the parent. In most circumstances the reason people home educate is that school is not suitable for their child. They have made the difficult decision to remove them from the mainstream school system and potentially give up work or completely change their lives in order to give their child the best education they can. They are intrinsically motivated to give their child the best start and to make home education good quality.


Home education needs to be treated by default as though there is no one more invested in a child’s success than their parent, rather than with suspicion. There is no one who knows the child better than their parent. Quality home education is about the quality of their relationship, rather than schedules or timetables.


Home education is a viable and credible alternative for families who don't attend school and should be treated by LAs as an equal choice, rather than lesser than.


In order to assure the quality of home education and provide appropriate support the local authorities could:


-          Extend outreach and children’s services at selected children’s centres or libraries to include stay ‘n’ play for home ed children aged 5-7.

-          Provide financial assistance for parental training courses, child’s classes, exams and outings. These things are widely available and financial assistance would make these things more accessible across different income families.

-          Provide a neutral contact and advocate as a home education officer who is not also responsible for “safeguarding” or “attendance”.

-          Ensure websites and information available around regulations is consistent across LAs. According to ‘Education Otherwise’ only 20 LAs in England have policies (or online information) which are fully compliant with legislation and guidance.

-          LAs should be audited by the department of education to ensure they are acting legally. It should not be on the parents to ensure the LA is acting legally, however that is currently the case in some areas.

-          LAs should ensure access to local centres for home-educated young people to sit accredited public exams. The cost should be met by the state.

-          LAs should provide information packs about local support and activities available for home educated children.


whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required;


It is not necessary. At the moment you can choose to be on it, this is a helpful indicator of how successful the LA is at relationship building between LAs and home educators by providing helpful services so that more people choose to be on it.


It is unclear what benefit making this statutory would bring and seems to be again based in the biased and unproven idea that it may assist with safeguarding, even though there are no proven shortfalls in this area.


the benefits children gain from home education, and the potential disadvantages they may face;




The main benefit to home education is choice. Educational choice is an important freedom.


We chose to practice consent based education. It enables children to say yes or no to what they participate in, and to be able to reflect and change their minds. Consent Based Education can only exist in environments that are trust and accountability based as opposed to fear-based, where there is no coercion, reward or punishment system in place, and where choices can be made as freely as possible within a community context. This is not currently a choice offered by schools. The biggest benefit for us is that we are able to practice consent throughout our child’s entire life. Our child will benefit from this by having their rights respected throughout their life, not only in adulthood.


Other benefits are:


-          Ability to have a personalised, self directed education. Self-direction is an approach that seeks to enable a person to be in greatest alignment with their own sense of purpose and drives, this leads to a diverse and creative outlook.

-          Focused 1 on 1 attention every day. A stronger, closer primary relationship with their parents, rather than taking the lead from their peers, leading to less peer dependence and the risks that come with that (drug addiction etc).

-          The choice of who to socialise with and when (particularly great for children with social anxiety or who have experienced bullying).

-          A reduction in stress and anxiety, as proven by studies made during the first lockdown.

-          More autonomy and independence leading to a more entrepreneurial mindset.

-          No psychological harm related to poor relationships or marks/punishment at school (socially, creatively).

-          Preparation for the modern world, based on real life, rather than a curriculum based on preparing children for the industrial revolution, based on a curriculum decided many years ago.

-          A subject based approach may be undertaken by some parents, however home education enables parents to cover multiple “subjects” in one lesson as per the interest of the child.

-          Enabling parents to provide an unbiased, safe, accepting environment for all diversity from cultural to neurodiversity and disabilities.

-          The ability to incorporate travel into their education.

-          A focus on building life skills.

-          Time to spend on specific passions or talents.

-          Ability to follow their personal natural sleep, toileting and eating pattern.


The disadvantages are fewer:


-          Stigma partly caused by suspicion from media and politicians.

-          Potential for isolation if undertaken during COVID due to guidelines being vague, or if they are located an area with no home Ed community or alternative.

-          A lack of advocation at a government level.

-          School is paid for, home education needs to be paid for by the family.


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;


There doesn’t appear to be any financial support, and if there is it is a postcode lottery. So the quality and accessibility is low.


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’;


The current regulatory framework is sufficient. Unregistered schools or off rolling are not home education issues.


The role that inspection should play in future regulation of home education;


Due to the unique circumstances of each family, any standardisation in order to assess “quality” would be completely inappropriate and could actually harm the child’s education. No external party would be able to effectively or fairly judge the diversity of neurology or cultures in home educating families, no training could prepare them for all circumstances.


LAs do not currently provide adequate training for their education officers and very few have any experience of, or training in home education. Most people who have attended school will come to the role with a school based bias. A period of deschooling training or personal experience of home education would be required for officers to enable them to properly understand and empathise with home educated families.


The relationship between the child and the parent is something that should be treated as sacrosanct. Any external rules, regulations or inspections imposed by local authorities could put the harmony of that relationship at risk and therefore have a detrimental impact. Anytime the parent has to spend on filling out information for the LA or meeting with them to jump through hoops is time they are not spending educating their child.


Inspections should only occur in partnership with the parent, perhaps if there is a legitimate concern, e.g. around a return to school, Special Educational Needs or a disability. Perhaps if the child has had behavioural issues at school and has left for that reason, the transition might be helpful to have support for. The primary role of an inspection in the circumstances where it is mutually agreed should be to help and support rather than judge or provide feedback.


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;


This information is not consistent or easily available across different areas and platforms. According to ‘Education Otherwise’ only 20 LAs in England have policies (or online information) which are fully compliant with legislation and guidance.


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.’


Clarity over the safety of home education adhoc meet ups has been difficult to come by, resulting in many children still not being able to meet with their peers, even though other children are at school.


Home educated children wanting to take exams during COVID were overlooked and could not get grades because they do not have teachers to predict them, they did not appear to be advocated for in discussions over COVID measures. This was a stressful time for those wanting to go to higher education.


October 2020