Written evidence submitted by Mr Richard Fisher


Evidence to House of Commons Education Committee

Richard Fisher

October 2020


I am writing as the father of two home educated boys aged 8 and 10.  We took the decision to home educate from the beginning of their schooling because of the advantage of being able to tailor their learning to their individual needs and interests.  We enjoy a good home education support network in the local area providing social contact, alongside doing other activities with families that send their children to school.  Our boys enjoy being exposed to a wide ranging and diverse curriculum, and it is pleasing to see their progress intellectually and socially.


I firmly believe that parents choose the educational approach for their children (whether at school or at home) based on what they believe is best for their children.  It is important that the principle of parents being able to make this choice is maintained because parents are the people who know and understand the needs of their children best.  For those who choose to home educate, their willingness to make time and financial sacrifices to do so, demonstrates their commitment to the interests of their children.


As an approach home-education offers a number of significant advantages.  Firstly, it enables a tailored approach, providing more stretching learning for gifted children, and more individual support for those who struggle in certain areas.  It also encourages a culture of being inquisitive and teaches from an early age the skills to be self-learning which are particularly important to prepare for life in the adult world where the concept of education finishing at 18 or 21 is an anachronism.


Powers already exist for local authorities to intervene where children are at risk of abuse or of not receiving an adequate education, with the current framework maintaining an appropriate balance between family life and children protection.  Asking local authorities to take on further responsibility to safeguard home educated children would dilute scarce social resources from children most at risk in the wider community.   There is no evidence that children bring home-educated are at risk, indeed there is evidence that they are less at risk than children in school settings.[1]


Maintaining a compulsory register of home educators is both unnecessary and would divert local authority resources to this activity, since those parents who are of concern would be unlikely to register.  It is also likely to be the start of mission creep by local authorities, some of whom already appear unclear on their current responsibilities and powers in this area.  Such a register would give the state unwarranted power over parents, who are best placed to decide in the interests of their children. 


Inspection of home educating families would represent an unwarranted intrusion by the state into family life.  Local authorities already have sufficient existing powers to address inadequate home education.  Inspection would dilute the very strength of home which is the ability to adopt a diversity of approaches tailored to the individual children.  It is unlikely that a busy local authority inspector would have the time to understand the choices made by individual families, and therefore they are very likely to attempt to straight-jacket families into a standard approach which would work against the best interests of the children involved.  There is no evidence that lack of inspection puts children at risk, indeed, our personal experience from knowing families who have home educated throughout compulsory school age is that children can be highly successful.


Home education is often confused with off-rolling by schools and unregistered schools.  These are separate issues and conflating them leads to confused and ineffective policy.  Powers and responsibilities for local authorities in these areas already exist to address them.


Whilst support from local authorities may be helpful for some families, this should be entirely voluntary, and families should not feel penalised for not following a particular approach if they feel it is not in the best interests of their children.


October 2020


[1] Charles-Warner, W, ‘Home Education and the Safeguarding Myth: Analysing the Facts Behind the Rhetoric’, 2015, see http://www.personalisededucationnow.org.uk/wpcontent/uploads/2015/02/home-education-and-the-safeguarding-myth-signed.WCW_-1.pdf as at 27 October 2020