Written evidence submitted by Rev Joel Edwards

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

Local authorities have authority to step in where children are at risk anyway.  They do not need extra powers to do this.

Whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required;

I think not.  This would be a shift in culture – making our society one in which the state increases its role in parenting over the natural parents.

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

I have home-schooled our four children at various stages.  All have gone on the tertiary education.  Two gained first class degrees.  One is currently in the University of Cambridge.  Clearly, there need be no academic disadvantage.  One tremendous advantage is that learning can take place at the pace of each learner – and no time is spent waiting for other disruptive children in a classroom setting.  Our children were part of home-school networks both in Newcastle and later in North East London.  There were good social opportunities.  During the pandemic, parents in our congregation reported that children confined to home with one another learned to play together with much greater patience and generosity that they used to when they spent most of the week in school.

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;

Support for families should be voluntary, not tied to a register or permission to home school.  Support should include training education officers to understand the benefits of home schooling and not treat home schooling families with suspicion.

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’;

This question conflates home schooling with problematic and harmful practices.  As a school governor, I am aware that some parents remove children from school with a pretence of home schooling.  This is known to the school.  Research indicates that home-educated children are more likely to be referred to social services and less likely to be under a Child Protection Plan (Charles-Warner, W, ‘Home Education and the Safeguarding Myth: Analysing the Facts Behind the Rhetoric’, 2015, see http://www.personalisededucationnow.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/home-education-and-the-safeguarding-myth-signed.WCW_-1.pdf accessed 28 October 2)

The role that inspection should play in future regulation of home education;

When we home educated we received (voluntarily) inspections by education officers.  This was little more than a check that the children appeared in good health.  But these inspections were invasive to our home life.

What improvements have been made to support home educators since the 2010-15 Education Committee published their report on ‘Support for Home Education’ in 2012;

Can’t comment.

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

Can’t comment.


October 2020