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.]


My wife and I are both qualified [profession] who chose to home educate all our children. All three proceeded to University ([university names]) and are now working or in our son’s case doing a PhD at [university]. My medical and academic colleagues have always supported our choice and often been enthusiastic about it, commenting that they wished they had done so or could do so themselves. They and others who have met our children have remarked positively on their maturity, education and development at different stages of their lives.


I respond below to most of the points raised in the consultation:


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

We believe the current position does not need to change and has the right balance between parents being free to choose how to educate their children and local authorities being enabled to inspect and activate safeguarding procedures when necessary. Having said this I should add that none of the many home educators and their children that we know have ever required such inspection. In fact, a few years ago a study reported that home educated children were much safer and therefore less likely to need such intervention than those education in state schools. This came as no surprise.


whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required

I do have a concern here about appropriate management of precious local authority resources. The social workers I work with are hugely overstretched and I understand this is the case for children’s services too. Creating some kind of database for home educated children and a requirement for registration and inspection would divert social workers away from where they are really needed and thereby put at risk children whom they would no longer have time to properly assess. I fear the law of unintended consequences would come into operation and overall it would increase harms to the children in our country.


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

For us, home educating our children was perhaps the best decision we have ever made. They were able to receive an education which was adapted to their personal needs and which could therefore progress at the rate each of them needed. Formally they achieved outstanding GCSE and A level results and progressed to University as above. They acquired many other skills as well, including importantly how to learn independently, preparing them well for University and work. Although social isolation is often raised as a concern for children educated at home, it was not a problem as we worked as part of a home school cooperative with another family. With them our children did music, art/crafts and various sports, and also participated extensively in local sports organisations. They also engaged in intergenerational activities which helped further broaden their horizons. Such opportunities are standard practices in our experience for those who home educate.

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

We recognise that as highly educated and well-paid people we were better placed than most to carry out home education and prepare our children for adult life. We were also conscious that we continued to pay our taxes which helped to fund the schooling of other children whilst saving the state the cost of educating our own children. I think there is a case for providing financial support to home educators, at least for those whose children have special educational needs, disabilities, mental health issues, or caring responsibilities”. Many of those who choose to home educate do so because they have found these needs not met in state education, or because their children have been bullied in the state school system.


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’

There is no evidence that home education is associated with harms and some finding the opposite. This is expected because home educators are highly motivated and caring parents who have a strong incentive to provide high quality education and experience for their children. I realise this might be said for parents generally, but those who choose to make the huge effort to deliver home education demonstrate this commitment and motivation very clearly by this choice.

As above targeting such a very low risk/no risk group would waste the valuable time of children’s social workers and those in safeguarding.

One of our main worries in relation to this consultation, and which seems supported by the wording used in this point, is the conflation of home educated children with other groups outside the state education system. I have just Googled what ‘off-rolling’ means and found it refers to the practice of some schools in getting children removed from their school rolls unofficially to improve their figures. Such children and those who are formally excluded from schools are obviously very different groups from home educated children and ones which would be at much higher risk of harm than the children remaining in schools, let alone home educated children. Lumping all these together is intellectually lazy and this consultation should recognise these as very different groups of children.


the role that inspection should play in future regulation of home education

What is the evidence there is any need for a change from current arrangements? Our children like other home educated children have done very well and become productive members of society with no evidence of harm or disadvantage, rather the opposite. To target inspection on those of us who choose to educate our own children would lead to unwarranted intrusion in family life. Local councils have enough power already to inspect where there is actual evidence of children being at risk.


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

Although we no longer educate our children, if we had been doing so then they would have progressed normally throughout COVID as we would not have been affected as schools were in having to close. The same applies to all those we know who home educate and thus children being home educated will have received much the same education over the months of COVID whilst those attending state and private schools have lost months of vital education. Home education wins hands down during COVID!

October 2020