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.]


Home Education Consultation: evidence



I am a home-educating parent and I know a number of other home-educating families. My oldest child has made the transition which we had planned to school for the 6th Form.


I can therefore say in the light of her experience with GCSE exams and of feedback from her new school that for her home-education has been a great success, and your younger siblings are following the same trajectory.


Advantages of home education


We as parents have taught the children personally and gradually introduced professional tutors as well as their education progressed.


With or without professional input the advantages of home education are very evident:



In general our tutors, and now our oldest’s school, agree with the very common assessment of home-educated children, that they are tend to be more outgoing, articulate, independent, and academically advanced.


Home education certainly involves loss as well as gain: schools offer greater classroom experience with peers, and in most cases a wider range of teachers and subjects, for example. Some of these can be mixed blessings (notably with the problems of bullying and lack of continuity with teachers), and some can be compensated for to some extent (for example by the experience of summer schools). It seems logical and right that parents should be the ones to assess how to balance these considerations in the context of the personality, needs, and desires, of each child, and it is common with home-educating families that children go into school at whatever point the advantages seem to outweigh the disadvantages.



Registration and Inspection


It is hard to know exactly what is to be gained by compulsory registration and termly inspection as set out in the proposals under consultation.


Both processes would involve considerable extra work for local authorities, and in deciding where to direct scarce resources it seems perverse to expend them on a group, home-educated children, who are less in need than others. It is well established that home-educated children as a group are less likely to suffer bullying, domestic abuse, or educational disadvantage, than the average child, let alone by comparison with other groups of children who might be identified, such as those in poverty or experiencing family breakdown.


See for example this study: https://www.personalisededucationnow.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/home-education-and-the-safeguarding-myth-signed.WCW_-1.pdf


Within the group of home-educated children there are no doubt some who would benefit from support or intervention, but local authorities have the legal means and the information needed to help this small minority, as the above study indicates. The idea that there are unidentified children being home-educated in serious need of outside help is not borne out by the facts.


On the other hand, compulsory registration and inspection do suggest an attitude of suspicion, and perhaps even of hostility, towards home-educating families, which is clearly unjust and could easily be counter-productive in terms of gaining the trust and cooperation of families who may have had bad experiences of schools.


To amplify this last point, home-education is sometime adopted, perhaps as a short-term measure, as a response to serious academic problems or bullying in school: this is a vital safety-valve for the school system which helps those who are falling between the cracks of official provision. There are many practical and psychological barriers to parents contemplating such a move, however, and it would wholly wrong to magnify these with bureaucratic barriers as well, and above all to give the impression that the same ‘educational establishment’ which has failed a child has some kind of veto over parents making alternative arrangements. However professionally objective an inspection regime is, this impression will be difficult to avoid.


I would suggest that scarce educational resources should be allocated towards those most in genuine need. As things are, home-educated children already receive far more than their fair share of official ‘referrals’ than other children, despite being far less likely to need them (a point demonstrated by the study linked to above).


Having said that, help with the fees for public examinations would be welcome. It seems most unfair that parents who have not called on the resources of the state for their children’s education should be asked to pay exam boards many hundreds of pounds if they want their children to get GCSEs or A-levels. Indeed there seems no justification for charging UK residents for UK examinations, more than a nominal sum, or up to some limit.


October 2020