Written evidence submitted by a member of the public


[Note: This evidence has been redacted by the Committee. Text in square brackets has been inserted where text has been redacted.]


Response to the Call for Evidence on Home Education




I am responding to this Call for Evidence as the mother and home educator of two children with the same [personal information]. My children are currently [age] and [age] years old. They previously attended school, so I can compare this country’s education system with elective home education (hereafter EHE). They have Education, Health and Care Plans (hereafter EHCPs), we are known to our local authority (hereafter LA) and do not require confidentiality or anonymity from the Education Committee.


My views in response to your topic questions can be summarised as follows:


Duties of Local Authorities


LAs currently have no general duties in relation to EHE. They also have no automatic duties about safeguarding or quality of education for EHE children. There are related duties regarding children missing an education (hereafter CME) and investigating EHE provision if it appears to the LA that a suitable education is not being provided.


This is as it should be, an innocent until proven guilty approach, and LAs regularly overstep that legal remit. I refused to continue meeting the EHE team at my LA after their representative tried to tell me that she had a general legal duty regarding EHE; then attempted to stop me rebutting this stance and further refused to look at the actual law, which I had brought to the meeting because my LA’s EHE team has a reputation for overstepping its legal remit.


The current legal duties about CME and investigating EHE provision, if it appears to the LA that a suitable education is not being provided, are more than sufficient. However, LAs should receive the appropriate resources to carry out their current legal duties and they are usually underfunded by the British Government.


Is A Statutory Register of Home Educated Children Necessary?


As you may expect from my response above, I do not think a statutory register of home educated children is necessary. However, I also do not believe that lists of information improve the welfare or quality of anything or anyone. They are drawn up to instil confidence in others and give the appearance of doing something, rather than doing anything useful.


In addition, home educators are neither paid to educate their children nor given free time for paperwork. This would be an extra burden on us and detract from our children’s education.


The Benefits of Home Education


The benefits of home education are flexibility, tailor-made learning and allowing children to learn at their own pace. My children went to school initially and the aim of the school system (in which I include the school, LA and supporting professionals) was to make my children fit into their mould, rather than adapting to my children’s needs and learning styles. My children thought and regularly expressed the view that they were bad children because they did not meet the expectations of the school system. My husband and I deregistered them when [personal information].


I would like to emphasise that my children attended a good school in our area with expertise in my children’s [personal information]. It was not enough.


Once my husband and I deregistered our children, we took a holistic approach. We observed how they preferred to learn and their areas of interest. We considered the type of skills and knowledge we would like them to have as adults and as older children. We took their needs into account. Then we found resources for them and have been home educating ever since. We all prefer home education to a school education.


These benefits can be summarised as a bespoke education.


The Potential Disadvantages for Home Educated Children


There are no disadvantages for home educated children in principle. However, there may be practical disadvantages in terms of access to formal education or national examinations later. I cannot comment on these issues yet due to my children’s ages.


Quality and Accessibility of Support for Home Educators and Home Educated Children


There is a lot of excellent support for home educators and home educated children from private companies and other home educating families. Support from private companies usually costs money, support from other families is usually free.


The NHS supports families regardless of educational choice. I have accessed medical support since deregistering my children from school and EHE has never been a barrier to that. It is easier in some ways because we have more flexibility in terms of dates and times now. There are issues with support for those with special educational needs and disabilities (hereafter SEND) but they exist regardless of educational choice.


There is no general financial support for EHE. In theory, I could access funding from my LA using my children’s EHCPs but it would probably mean me bringing a SEND Tribunal claim against the LA in practice.


I cannot comment on the support for further or higher education, as my children are too young to access that provision.


Is The Current Regulatory Framework Sufficient?


The current regulatory framework is sufficient to ensure the well-being and academic achievement of home educated children is safeguarded. I cannot find any reputable scientific research showing that educational choice is related to abuse or neglect of children. LAs already have a legal duty regarding the investigation of EHE provision when it appears to them that a suitable education is not being provided by parents/guardians. Again, LAs would benefit from the correct level of funding to carry out their legal duties and underfunding of LAs is a general problem.


If children have been formally excluded from school on a permanent basis, the LAs should already have a procedure to ensure that the children are not in the CME category. In my area, such children are educated in pupil referral units and are not home educated. If you mean fixed exclusions, which I still call suspensions, then those children remain registered at a school and academic work is usually sent home for completion. 


I have no experience of unregistered schools or off-rolling, so I cannot comment on this aspect.


The Potential Role of Inspection


There is no need for inspection of home education, as the current regulatory framework is sufficient (please see above). In addition, it would cause problems for EHE families. I am not paid to educate my children, so I would have to prepare for inspections at my expense. My preparation time for inspections would also take time away from my children’s education. A school teacher has colleagues to continue educating children during any preparation time but home educators do not have such resources.


The other issue would be that my children’s [personal information]. They would [personal information] the inspection through no fault of theirs or mine and, again, I do not have colleagues to take over their education during an inspection.


Have There Been Improvements in Support for Home Educators Since The 2012 Report by The 2010-2015 Education Committee?


I read the 2012 Report and I am not aware of any positive changes in support for home educators since then. There may have been improvements for children older or younger than mine but I have not heard about them.


The Impact of Covid-19 on Home Educated Children


Covid-19 has the same impact on home educated children as it does on all children, i.e. it is usually a mild illness but serious for those who are overweight or have certain underlying health conditions. However, the British Government’s response to Covid-19 since March 2020 is having a grave impact on home educated children.


As I mentioned above, the main benefit of EHE is a bespoke education. Many of us weave various subjects into everyday life, rather than teaching discrete subjects like at school. We have therefore been penalised by the rule of six and other restrictions on group meetings. It is common for home educators to arrange a group meeting in recreational venues, then educate and socialise at the same time. We wait for educational opportunities to come up and facilitate learning among our children. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 laws prevent this style of education unless we have a clear educational purpose. On the other hand, school children may mix in much larger groups daily.


The British Government needs to appreciate that school is one type of education and reflect this in its laws generally and in relation to Covid-19. I would like home educators to be able to meet in the same group sizes as school children. Commercial venues should be allowed to offer those group sizes to home educators.




As I mentioned in my introduction, my views are:


October 2020