Written evidence submitted by Mrs Dawn Errington


A statutory register of home educated children, should not be required.  Families should not be required to be listed and watched over just because they choose to educate their children at home.  It is a positive decision for most families who want to be involved in the education of their children, they should not be treated as those who are incapable of caring for their family. 

Creating a register would create huge administrative issues and data protection concerns both for families and local authorities.

There are huge benefits for children when they receive home education.  It is a tailor-made education which provides just what the child needs at the right time.  It has great consistency and can allow more time for things that a student struggles with and time to pursue their own academic interests.  They also get to experience life in all its facets as they spend time in the world and meet people in many different situations that are varied and diverse.

The main disadvantage to Home Educated children is the lack of exam centres that will accept external candidates.  There are restrictions on which exams can be taken because of a lack of facilities to sit practical exams.  Many home educators will want their children to sit standard exams to enable their children to progress into colleges and universities.  It would be amazing each Local Authority had an accessible exam centre for external candidates. 

Inspection is an unfortunate word.  It is difficult to respond well to the idea of being inspected. What are the criteria for inspection?  One size does not fit all in education, achievement can not be a benchmark.  If home education becomes one size fits all then so many of the benefits of home education would be lost.  There needs to be room for individuality, we need to trust parents to make good decisions for their children.  There are increasing numbers of families who take their children out of school because they find although school serves many an institution cannot care for a child the way a family does.  To be inspected makes families into ‘cases’ when there is no need to do so. 

Home educated children have been in general less affected by disruption during the COVID-19 lockdown period.  Their main schooling has not been disrupted they have been able to continue with their studies.  Thankfully out of school educational settings have been provided for in the exemptions which allows for tutoring and activities with other children.

However, the cancellation of the exams did cause a lot of stress for students who were expecting to sit their GCSE/ A Level exams as external candidates.  There was no point of contact.  The Local Authority contact had no information.  Ofqual had no information and neither did the DFE, there did not seem to be anyone willing to answer queries or explore possible solutions.  There was no one who could advise.

There was no recognition in this situation that parents are very involved in working with their children. Only work submitted from external tutors or external learning providers would be accepted by exam centres to provide grades.  Whilst this is understandable it created a situation where the cost of sitting each subject would increase greatly if you had not already paid for an external provider.  The complications of trying to put together portfolios was difficult as no informal evidence would be deemed adequate so not all students could receive predicted grades in all subjects. 

In the end the portofolios that were put together were not even looked at by the exam boards, they took the predicted grades and then used an algorithm.  This resulted in some students being downgraded by up to two grades

Although we could achieve Centre Approved Grades for some subjects it was not possible for all of them which essentially has meant that some students have had to wait an extra year before progressing, or have had to enrol on lower level courses just so they can get their grades in essential subjects.  Essentially wasting a year, which does not do much to motivate young people.

The IGCSE’s which many home educators choose to sit publish their results earlier and thanks to algorithms many students were downgraded.  Unlike those in mainstream education we had two weeks to wait to see if there was any way to appeal.  The appeals process was extremely limited. This was stressful for students and parents.  When the announcement was made regarding predicted grades we could not take for granted it would apply to IGCE’s or external candidates which also added to the stress.

The COVID situation has been unprecedented and particularly difficult but it did seem that contingency plans were only being considered for mainstream students and those not in the system were overlooked or at least left behind.  Having an informed point of contact would have alleviated this.

As next year continues to be uncertain, it would be hoped that home educated students and external candidates would not be overlooked and that whenever announcements are made with regard to the normal system that the information would also be provided for those in home education. 


October 2020