Written evidence submitted by Pastor Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 28th October 2020

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing in response to the Education Committees call for evidence about home education. My wife and I briefly educated one of our own children at home, are both involved in education more generally (I as a parent and governor, my wife as parent and teacher), and I am the pastor of a church in which a number of families have educated their children at home, are doing so, or intend and plan to do so in the future.

I write out of the conviction that the primary responsibility for the raising and training of children belongs with the family rather than the state. Even when families choose to delegate a measure of their responsibility for the education of their children, that is and ought to be a responsible decision in itself. Where parents choose to home educate, it is important to recognise this. There is no reason, for example, why a mandatory register is necessary: Why should parents   need to register in order to teach their own children? Would such a demand not only impose an unwarranted intrusion upon family life but also risk overburdening already busy local authorities, and distracting them from more important business?

Furthermore, and along the same lines, the suggestion that there should be a formal inspection of home educators, beyond the already sufficient powers of local councils, is unwarranted, both on principle and by lack of evidence for its benefit. One of the strengths of home education is in its adaptability and flexibility. An inspection regime would not only be an inappropriate intrusion into family life by the state, but would almost certainly not be able to take account of that diversity which is often found in home education. Should home education be failing children, local authorities already have at their disposal all the powers they need to address the issue.

In short, many parents make a thoughtful and deliberate choice to home educate their children. They do so because they are persuadedfor any number of valid reasonsthat home education serves their children and the whole family best. This is a proper and legitimate decision, and not one into which the government should be able to intrude in some of the ways that are being suggested.

Education is primarily a parental responsibility. How and when that responsibility is discharged, and if and when and to what extent it is delegated or shared, is a parental decision. Parents act not on behalf of the state, but with regard to their own duties and their care for their children. I believe that a compulsory register of home-educated children with regular government-overseen inspections bites into the proper liberties of families to educate their children according to their own convictions.

Yours sincerely,

Jeremy Walker

Pastor of Maidenbower Baptist Church


October 2020