Written evidence submitted by Mrs Gill Knox

I spent 32 years in teaching and recently retired after 16 years of being a headteacher in three different primary schools.

I do believe that parents have the right to choose to educate their children at home but should be under the same scrutiny as schools in terms of the curriculum they offer and the social and emotional support given. In my experience, the local authority has been woefully poor in monitoring children who are home schooled. I have seen parents decide to home school their children after falling out with the school because they were not prepared to be challenged on areas such as attendance, behaviour or school expectations. These parents were sometimes badly equipped to home school their children and sometimes, after a period of time, they would re-enrol their child(ren) in a different school. This led to a very disjointed education for the children, gaps in their learning leading to poor outcomes. Incidentally, it was also very frustrating for schools who picked up these children with gaps in their learning and were held accountable for their attainment and progress.

On one occasion, over 10 years ago, a parent decided to home school their child when the school raised a safeguarding concern. Once the child was off roll there was no follow up by Children’s Services. This is clearly a serious situation. I understand that now with the CMIE guidance, this is less likely to happen.

I also have concerns about parents home educating for religious reasons. I have spoken to a number of parents who have opted for home education and when asked why, say it is because they don’t want their children being taught that homosexuality is acceptable or have their children taught about gender issues and LGBTQ rights. In my experience, schools would always be sympathetic to parents religious beliefs and would not want lessons to be offensive to personal convictions. This is not a reason to deny a child a school education.

Lastly, I strongly believe that parents should have to register as home educators and provide some evidence of their ability to teach and an outline of the curriculum they will follow. This would ensure that children would not get “lost” from the system and could be monitored educationally as well as from a safeguarding position.


October 2020