HED0139

 

Written evidence submitted by Mrs Kate Andreyev

Submission of Evidence to Home Education Committee Consultation 2020 (By Mrs Kate Andreyev, home educating parent)

 

The Committee invites written submissions addressing any or all of the following points:

Answer: There is no evidence that children are less safe at home than at school.  The rate of abuse in children who attend school is much higher.  It is concerning that home education is wrongly conflated with safeguarding concerns.  The legal presumption of innocence requires authorities to assume that there are no safeguarding concerns unless there is evidence to the contrary.  Parents must be trusted to look after their own children.  Children are frequently unsafe at school.

Answer: The local authorities do not and should not have a responsibility to assure the quality of home education.  It would do better to focus on the provision in schools. Research available in the UK (e.g. by Paula Rothermel) demonstrates that outcomes for home educated children are very positive.  Extensive research from the USA demonstrates that home educated students significantly outperform their state school-based peers.  In addition, elective home education officers often do not understand how home education works as their background tends to be school-based education or social work.  I say this as both a fully qualified and experienced UK secondary school teacher and a home educating parent.

Answer: No, a statutory register is not required.  The present arrangements and work well.  Parents and not the state have the duty of education.  Local authorities already have powers to make informal enquiries when they learn of home educating families.  New Zealand had a system of registering and monitoring which it abandoned as it concluded that it did not serve a purpose but cost time and money to administer.

Answer:  The benefits of home education are huge and diverse.  Education can be tailored to the needs of the child/young person far more than in school.  Each child can be given far more individual attention than is possible in school.  There is more freedom in terms of subject choice, exam options etc.  Home education allows for different methodologies and approaches.  Where children have experienced bullying in school and have suffered trauma, home education gives a release from this and a much healthier environment.  Learning can take place when it is most effective, rather than being constrained by the needs of the timetable.  Home educated learners can learn at their own pace, rather than being left behind or left bored in a classroom, i.e. it is more efficient.  Home educated children are able to engage more with other children of both the same and different ages in home education groups which better prepares them for a life of dealing with people of all ages, rather than being excessively peer-focused.

Answer: Home educators often report the disadvantage of excessive and unhelpful interference from local authorities.  Local authorities often harass families (there is much evidence for this) and go beyond the scope of the law in their dealings with home educating families.  Local authorities often give the impression that home educators have to do certain things which are in fact not required by law.  Home educators also encounter the disadvantage of for example misinformed health professionals, e.g. health visitors.  I have had personal experience of having the law misquoted to me by health professionals.  Government and local authorities could help to better educate such health and local authority professionals so that home educators are not treated with suspicion or misinformed.

Answer:  Home educators are currently discriminated against when it comes to provision of exam centres and funding of public exams.  Government and local authorities need to consider how to redress this in such a way that home educators are treated fairly and their freedoms are respected.  Exam centres and schools should be required to accept home educated students for public exams and such exams should be funded.  Even funding of exams in English Language, Mathematics and Science for home educators would be an improvement on the current situation.  School pupils are allowed to sit these exam subjects even if they are not predicted higher grades.  Schools should not be obliged to include the exam results of home educated students with their results.

Answer: “Off-rolling” and unregistered schools are separate issues from home education and should be treated as such.  “Off-rolling” is malpractice by schools and should be followed up as such.  Parents who have de-registered their children should not be harassed or required to explain their reasons for home educating, but they could be asked to let the local authority know if they feel that they have been pressured into home education by the school or if they feel that the school has put them in a position where they feel they have no option but to home educate.  Unregistered schools should be regarded and dealt with separately to home education – a child attending an unregistered/illegal school is not a home educated child.

Answer: ‘Inspection’ should not play a part in the future regulation of home education.  This would be a fundamental change to the law of the land.  In UK law parents have the duty and responsibility for their children’s education.  When they delegate this responsibility to schools, the inspections that take place are to let parents (who have the duty) know how well the school is fulfilling its role.  In the UK people have a right to privacy and inspection would be an unacceptable intrusion into family life by the state.

Answer:  I am not aware of any change in support.

Answer:  Home educated children were disadvantaged by the measures put in place to deal with exams this year.  This needs to be addressed without impinging on the freedom to home educate.  Perhaps, if schools and exam centres are obliged to let home educated students sit their exams, these centres could offer a marked mock paper to home educated students. 

October 2020