Page 6 of 6                            HED0164


Written evidence submitted by Philip Mear


I am a retired teacher and have had frequent contact with parents who home educate their children, in addition to interaction with their children. All of them stood on Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 "The parent of every child...either by regular attendance at school or otherwise". I have left some words out of this quotation relating to every child receiving efficient full-time education. I am submitting in support of home schooling families against registration of home schools. Here are my main points:



Safeguarding home educated children

In my experience, home educated children are enjoying a far safer environment than those that attend regular schools be they state or private school pupils. The abuse of home education by a tiny minority of parents who have harmed or murdered their children is not a justifiable reason to treat the 99.9999% of loving home educating parents with suspicion. The conflation of home education and child abuse as a justification for mandatory registration of home educated children in the name of "safeguarding" is totally unjustifiable.  Where there is evidence that parent/parents are known to the police or social services as a possible danger to their children, then local authority safeguarding action is appropriate. My point is "safeguarding" is an Orwellian concept, when there is total light vs. darkness difference between the Judaeo-Christian world view and the humanistic/atheistic/Marxist world view of what "safeguarding" means. Same word "safeguarding" but totally different ideas about what safeguarding children mean in practice.


The Judaeo-Christian worldview presents "safeguarding" as parents protecting their children from all forms of harm including physical, psychological, ideological, and moral. It puts parents as the gatekeeper of what they want or do not want their children to see, do, believe, study, etc. Legal responsibility for bad actions stays firmly with parents, not the state when harm is allowed to occur. In contrast, the humanistic/atheistic/Marxist worldview of "safeguarding" is at its most extreme expression is that children belong to the state, not parents. Currently, this is expressed in the idea that parents cannot be trusted to raise their children without state intervention. For example, the state thinks it knows more about what children need than individual parents by introducing mandatory relationships and sex education (RSE) in schools. Parents do not have the right to withdraw their children from RSE classes, unlike the previous arrangements. The content of RSE in schools is deeply troubling because it is based on the blatantly pro-promiscuity, anti-family comprehensive sex education (CSE) agenda promoted by the United Nations (UN). There is an ongoing battle between pro-family/parental rights and CSE groups at international bodies such as the UN.  


I think the current system of safeguarding is fair and balanced. Firstly, it does not overwhelm overstretched local authorities with unnecessary work. This means they can focus resources where there is a genuine need for intervention. Secondly, if home educating parents do experience difficulties home educating their children, e.g. one parent unable to carry on the home school, they can ask their local authority to find temporary school places for their children.


My experience with home educated children was primarily through a private Christian school that mainly used a home education system for teaching. However, I have met parents that were not near enough this school so used home education for their children, so have seen the system applied both to a 'regular' school and 'home' setting. In both cases, the education was provided by a system where the content was written by experts in their field and taught through work booklets and support from parents (home) and teachers (school). Home education is used by famous families such as the Crosbys (3.22million subscribers on youtube). This family is famous for Claire who is a singing sensation. Our own Queen was also home educated, as was the child film star Kaitlyn Maher. Home education is extensively used where flexibility is needed for combining travel or artistic activities in the case of Kaitlyn Maher and other child performers.


The parents who I know home educate to 'safeguard' their children from hostile outside influences. Only parents who deeply care for their children home educate them. What I am saying is the motivation and quality of the parents that home educated is exceptionally high. Not "quality" in archaic terms of social rank e.g. "the quality" but sacrificial devotion to their children. In fact, many are doing so on biblical grounds e.g. Deuteronomy Ch6 v5-9 which gives parents the role of educating their children. The Israelites were literate thousands of years before the UK adopted mandatory education for children! They sacrifice lost income, NI contributions, and most of all their time to give their children the best possible education and upbringing.


Many home schooling parents started home schooling to safeguard their children from the ideologies and philosophies of secularist educators. Much of what is taught in schools is heavily influenced by Marxist ideas rather than traditional Judaeo-Christian values. They see teaching humans evolved as rejecting God as our creator, which undermines a child's faith. They also perceive 'equality and diversity' teaching as an ideology that directly challenges biblical teaching.  This is because tolerance is not the same as acceptance in the bible. Christianity respects and tolerates the free will of fellow man, but does not accept or approve of practice e.g. LBGTQ. What I have just said is not radical but the position of Christian home school parents.


Neither is necessary for home school parents to be Christian. Many non-Christians of a faith e.g. Islam or no faith want to shield their children from the same ideologies as Christians.  Yes, they do this for different reasons but it is done out of a deep desire to nurture their children in a safe environment. The current educational system is toxic because it only gives lip service to the 'real' diversity and equality that would be inclusive to their children.


I omitted to mention that some parents of special needs children find home education is the only environment their child/children can thrive. As I just stated, practical equality and diversity in regular state schools fall far short of providing a place for many special needs children to be safe, let alone to thrive. Special needs children are oddities pushed to one side and often isolated from 'normal' pupils because teachers cannot enforce 'inclusion' on unwilling pupils. This is a plea for special needs pupils to be taught in special needs schools, not forced to integrate into regular state schools.


I will start concluding in this section by stressing that home educated children and young people have the best safeguarding that is humanly possible; their parents love and devotion. Those that advocate for a mandatory register for home educated children do not respect the right of parents to educate "otherwise" under the Education Act 1996, Section 7. Supporters of registration of home educated children see home education as a threat to the educational establishment.  Home education is becoming more popular at least in the UK and USA. The Covid-19 lockdown promoted home education and many parents are now embracing it, having seen the improvement in the wellbeing of their children. At least one renowned school is offering a cost-effective home distance education to parents that could never afford their boarding school fees. Others are looking to use faith-based educational systems such as used by the school I referred to earlier.


The parents I have spoken to tell me about the negative experiences they have had with state schools. This issue is particularly acute where special needs students are involved because normal schools are simply not structured to fully support these children. What they say is home schooling was not their first plan, but their local school was obstructive, dismissing their concerns or not 'walking the talk' with promises that were worthless like Neville Chamberlin's famous  "peace in our time" scrap of paper signed by Adolf Hitler in 1938. Home education was their last resort given the unwillingness of a school to solve the problem of its failure to "safeguard" their child/children. These parents resent any role for the state in the education of their children. These parents feel that they and their children are the victims of an uncaring educational system and want nothing more to with it!             



A statutory register of home educated children

This is not needed and very undesirable. For the avoidance of doubt, any parent that intends to harm their child/children would not register their home school. There is no point in a voluntary register or any justification for a mandatory register of home educated children. Any mandatory registration would be the thin end of the wedge and the first step on a slippery slope to full state control of home education. If a mandatory register was in place, the state would certainly not resist extending its control over home education. This is what is happening in other countries including Canada.


Let me expand on this point. Once a register in place, it will give the state power to start controlling home education by step-by-step regulation. Earlier I spoke of the slippery slope of registration and regulation. The freedom of parents to choose home education is paramount and biblical. Only states that are totalitarian or seek to become totalitarian want to control the rights of parents to home educate their children. Marxism sees children as belonging to the state; Judaeo-Christian is very different, firmly placing the responsibility of raising children on their parents. In France the threat to home education is coming from the "anti-radicalisation" agenda where Christian and other non-radical home school parents are the victims. Deal with the radicalisation and leave home school parents in peace!    



Home educated children have many advantages over school educated children

In my experience as a qualified teacher, home educated children are given a 'bespoke' made to measure education as opposed to an 'off the shelf' regular school education. Of the many home educating parents that I have met, most chose home education because the 'regular' school model did not benefit their child or children. It was often due to bullying, gifted ability in particular subject/subjects; the teaching methods used by a teacher/school did not work with their child/children or more broadly moral/religious principle/belief reasons. Here I have included both gifted and special needs learners who are simply failed by our current state school system.


A great advantage of home education is beyond the first stages it is self-directed, not whole class paced. Home educated children 'learn how to learn' at a young age. They are 'intrinsically' rather than 'extrinsically' motivated to learn.  Success breeds success in learning, so where there is no 'glass ceiling' they can advance where they are gifted but study at their own pace where they are struggling e.g. science vs. humanities.


Most importantly, they learn to THINK, something many school teachers are scared of allowing their students to develop! For example, home educated children may learn about evolution and creation so they can argue the case against Darwinism. Critical thinking skills, logic, and understanding moral frameworks from Judaeo-Christian and secularist perspectives are all possible in home education.


Lastly in this section, I contend that psychologically, home educated children can learn without fear of rejection, bullying, fear of failure, and abuse from social media. Children are delicate flowers that need careful cultivation to grow, particularly if they are 'different' e.g. autistic, dyslexic, and so on. Regular schools cannot cope with special needs students.  In my view, no special needs children should be taught in integrated schools but attend special needs schools. Only 'borderline' special needs children should be in mainstream schools.



Should outside inspection have a role in home education?

In my view, parents sacrifice a lot of time and money to home educate their children. There are rarely any concerns about the safety of home educated children. Another point is that home education is not a 'standard' method like regular schools. Every home school is different using different educational materials, teaching methods, school times, and educational outcomes just to name a few different variables. An inspection would be inappropriate and not practical for such a diverse range of educational settings. Local authorities already have the power to intervene if home education is inadequate. Why do they want more power? Is it to interfere because their present powers do not allow them to do so?



Unregistered schools and 'off-rolling'

Unregistered schools are a problem. This problem must not be linked to home schooling because it is an entirely different matter. Unregistered schools should be covered by child abuse investigation and criminal prosecution if appropriate. For the avoidance of doubt, there is NO conflated link between HOME EDUCATION and UNREGISTERED SCHOOLS. Home educators do not educate the children of other families by setting up an unregistered school. Home educating families sometimes share facilities or their children visit another home education family for particular topics.  The latter is usually for older children approaching GCSE level where more specialised teaching is required e.g. foreign languages, practical science sessions, etc. However, these are NOT unregistered schools.


As I have just mentioned, some home schooling families do share facilities. It is not unknown for a child to study in the home of another home schooling family. This is frequently because of a change in circumstances that have resulted in being able to continue to use their home for a home school. In this case, they would be using the same educational system, the change would be seamless. Again, this is NOT an unregistered school.


'Off-rolling' is a by-product of testing and school performance tables. The old saying "you get what you measure" is the cause of the problem. Desperate state schools are 'throwing out' children to be 'home schooled' under 'off-rolling'. These children are being thrown overboard from a metaphorical ship without a life jacket to save them from certain educational failure. In my view, what these schools are doing is NOT home schooling, but treating these pupils like refuse that is thrown into a black wheeled bin for landfill. Cutting these pupils to drift in an empty ocean where nobody wants them must be stopped, as their schools have a duty of care towards them. Importantly, home education is not suitable for every child.


These mainly underachieving pupils need a structured school day to learn and study. I understand from those who work with underachieving pupils, that a sudden transition to home education is traumatic. This is even if the change is well organised and supported by their parents and with input from school staff the change is stressful. It one thing for a pupil to be excluded from school for a set period e.g. 3 days but to be permanently excluded is traumatic. My main point is 'dumping' pupils merely to gain better statistical averages in school league tables is iniquitous. I have taught some of these students and the unjust actions of a school towards them leave them with an invisible permanent scar. The message "not every disability is visible" is valid here. Heroic improvements in school league tables may have come at a tragic hidden human cost.


What I am saying is schools have misrepresented home education to claim that they are 'supporting' off rolled students that have been permanently excluded from a school. It would have been more effective to keep them at school than imagine that a traumatic change to 'home education' will solve the educational needs of excluded pupils. What schools are offering is not a real home education. These pupils are victims of 'off-rolling' because it is far too late for them to benefit from home education.



Covid 19, the closure of schools and home education

A major reason that has prompted the matter of registration of home educated pupils is the sudden increase in parents withdrawing their children from regular schools to be home educated. In my professional view, this is partly because parents that took the loss of regular schooling for their child/children seriously started home schooling out of necessity. After experiencing a steep learning curve they 'rediscovered' the benefits of teaching their family, as they did when their children were younger. Children that had a negative experience of school life had sufficient time in learning at home, started to blossom in the safest learning environment possible, their own home. Parents noticed this and are withdrawing their children from regular schools.


What I have just described the journey many of those that have already adopted home education experienced. Their process of reaching this point was different but essentially similar. Many parents that home school have pulled their children out of regular schools because of abuse from other children and even school staff! In my view, child abuse happens in regular state schools, most often in the form of psychological bullying rather than physical assaults. Home education produces happy children and young people who are ready to face the world and all it will throw at them.


I have also been a tutor on university distance learning and am interested in the extension of this concept to school children. This is not new as Australia has used this model for the outback since the days of radio pre-internet! Technology has opened up the way for parents to use distance education for their child/children by linking to a top private school. This is different from traditional home education in detail but an effective additional reason for parents to withdraw their child/children from regular school.




I have set out the case against the registration of home educated pupils and their parents. The educational establishment has long wanted to control home education. This is because they do not trust parents to create effective learning for their children. In response, I would contend that the educational establishment has particularly failed the most vulnerable children. In light of this many parents have turned to home education as the solution. Home educated children are healthy, vibrant, independent thinkers and able to cope with whatever the world throws at them!  



October 2020



Submission of Mr Philip Mear