Written evidence submitted by Rosemary Charles


Call for evidence

Home Education


I have two now-adult children who were home educated throughout their ‘compulsory’ school years.    Both have remained firm supporters of the path this family took and one is involved with assisting current home educators.

In responding to the points the Committee highlights, I shall draw upon my experience of home education spanning well over thirty years during which time I have offered help to many families.  Before starting, I have re-read the document ‘Support for Home Education’ produced in 2012.



This is a poor first question as it appears the question-setter is unaware of the 2012 report as well as the Law which pertains to home education.   Local Authorities do not have an overall ‘duty’ regarding home education but only can make enquiries if there is ‘reason to believe’ an education is not taking place.  This nuance is all too often ignored and home educators suffer in consequence. 


Safeguarding is a responsibility of Social Service departments not those responsible for education.  It should thus be completely separate from a document titled Home Education.


There is no duty for a Local Authority to assure the ‘quality of home education’.  

The 2012 report states (page 9) It is not the role of the local authority routinely to monitor whether a suitable education is being provided, and local authorities should not act as if it is, or cause parents to believe it is.



It is not required.  In this country education is the responsibility of the parent(s) and not the state.  It is wearying to have to continue to repeat this clear fact.  


Some parents decide to use a school for part of their child’s education but in this case still remain responsible overall – as they do for the child’s tooth-care, moral compass, hygiene, shoe purchasing and a thousand and one other things.   There is no more reason to have a register of families who choose one path of education than listing those who are vegetarian, permit nose piercing, provide trumpet lessons, purchase bicycles or any of the multitude of other choices which families have.


Being ‘on a register’ would have provided this family with untold stress and altered the subtle reassurance to children given by their parents being their guardians.  A register has the risk of handing the state an unwanted, and illegal under Home Education law, role in family life.




The benefits are legion and covered by the very many books and articles written by home educating families.  A few might be individual attention; the ability to follow interests without being forced to change subjects by the clock; being able to learn at a rate and level appropriate to the child rather than being at Level X or Year Y (one family can have two children learning to read at very different ages); being able to enjoy uncrowded museums and parks; learning from and having friendships with people of all ages, grandparents to toddlers and home-education support groups;  the life-skills of budgeting, shopping and cooking in real situations; having time to enjoy sports, music making and youth groups without rushing to them after an exhausting day at school – and being self confident.    


I have known hundreds of home educated children and know of no disadvantages.  If there were any then home educators are good at pooling solutions.




Whilst financial support sounds enticing, and few H.E. families have more than ‘just-enough’ money, any state aid would need to be regulated and thus involve layers of unwanted assessment.  Probably best avoided for this reason.   Anyone going on to Higher Education would qualify for the usual grants and loans available.


It would be better for comments regarding financial support for children with special needs to come from those with direct experience.



None of the above categories comes under the ambit of elective home education and each should form a separate and distinct category of enquiry.   

Unregistered schools are not home education, and nor is off-rolling which should be investigated by a local authority and the local PRU provision if it is not the choice of the family.



What future regulation of home education?   I refer back to my answer to the first bullet point:


The 2012 report states (page 9) It is not the role of the local authority routinely to monitor whether a suitable education is being provided, and local authorities should not act as if it is, or cause parents to believe it is.


I know of nothing in law to have changed this.  The current Children’s Commissioner has recently made an inaccurate statement.  Sadly she seems to have neglected to ‘do her homework’.



Apart from the restrictions on travel and cessation of activities experienced by all families through Covid-19 it is unlikely to have had much further effect on established home educators.   However those who had to ‘home school’ (a different concept) when their schools were closed have not really experienced home education as most experience it during normal times when they are free to go out generally and to meet other families.     A few have, nonetheless, enjoyed their new way of life and may now be embarking on home education ‘proper’.  As these families will have come to their decision to home educate by an unusual route they may understandably need longer to adjust.


Although I am no longer an active home educator what I have picked up is that very little has changed since the report of the previous Select Committee.


I have been involved in home education for about thirty-five years.  During this period very many thousands of young people have benefited from this choice – and that is what it is, a choice within the law on a par with using a school.  If a family decides that this option is no longer appropriate for them, the young person can then opt into school.  However many thousands happily opt the other way, just as they exercise other choices within British life.


Unfortunately there are too many in supposed positions of authority who are not accepting of this legal choice and make it their mission to try to interfere.  Laws and guidelines already exist for situations where there are additional problems: every case of difficulty which the Press attempts to link with home education has already been in the hands of a branch of Social Services which is where the situation should have been sensitively handled.   Instead too many home educators spend many hours writing letters and filling in surveys, using time which should be devoted to their families,  when what they are actually doing is educating the various government and local authority employees who are in post but have little, or no, understanding off the Law, or worse, believe they can bend the Law in order to fulfil a political purpose of their own holding.    I know many of my generation of home educators, with a huge amount of experience, who may not reply to this request for responses, through sheer fatigue at the constant repetition of the freedoms we all hold to bring up our families as we best see fit but within the law as it is written.   Instead it seems to fall to us to educate so-called officials as well as help to educate our children or grandchildren.


October 2020