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.]


31st October 2020.


The following is based upon our Home Education experience so far.

I am offering this document as evidence for the select committee as I think our specific unusual circumstances should be given a voice.

I am also a supporter of  the Home Educating community. In my most recent work I have helped to run Forest School sessions for Home Educating families. This has given me the opportunity to meet families living in various circumstances and opting to home educate for differing reasons. I am writing the following, drawing upon my own experiences and those of the families that I have met.


We are new to Home Ed. Our daughter is [age] years old, has [personal information]. We also have [age] year old twin boys (no known additional needs.) I (Mum) have severe allergic asthma which has been uncontrolled since [date]. (This is under review of the hospital – delayed due to C-19.) We have shielded since the March lockdown, I am classed as clinically extremely vulnerable. We have chosen to continue to shield, even though all support for this ceased in August. It seems sensible to us, given my current  daily breathing difficulties and the fact that colds/viruses usually further exacerbate my asthma.

I have not been able to work since [date], fortunately my husband is able to work from home currently. Our daughter finished [personal information] in [month]. We were able to engage her quite well in remote learning arranged and run through her college. We are now engaging her in distance learning/opportunities though local specialist provision.

Our boys have been in mainstream school until recently. Their school provided excellent on-line support to enable them to distance learn throughout lockdown, with support by myself.

School, albeit reluctantly, supported us for 6 weeks to continue to distance learn when all schools returned in September. However, the LEA attendance and welfare departments, refused to allow the boys any further authorised absence. If we had been able to obtain a letter of support from a medical professional, they would have allowed us to distance learn in order to enable me to continue to shield. Both the hospital and GP said that it was not policy to provide such letters.  We were given the choice of “elective” home educating or paying fines.  We can’t afford the fines, nor should we have to pay educate our children at home ourselves, so our boys have lost their school places. I am unwell and not able to give them as full an education as they should have. I was managing when school were providing us with all the planning and I was downloading/printing lessons and tasks. My ill health + home schooling is exhausting me – I am often asleep before the children and very much need to rest at the weekends – leaving very little opportunity to plan.

We now feel cast adrift, we are fortunate to have laptop/ipad/printer etc to enable the learning. We have paid for membership with Twinkl and Sumdog. We are also investigating National Oak Academy and Classroom secrets. It is very difficult now to know how to plan. We would like to follow what school is doing, as we would like the boys to rejoin school once the threat to my health from C-19 becomes more manageable.


Safeguarding  - I am not clear what the LA do.

Quality of home ed provision – my understanding is that we should have a visit from a Home Ed officer, when we evidence what we are doing. I believe that we only really have to ensure that the children are continuing to develop their literacy and numeracy skills.


I believe there should be a statutory register of Home Educated children. If not it makes it easy for vulnerable children to go unnoticed. They could be vulnerable due to their homelife/additional needs/parent or carers abilities and capabilities etc. If children are not seen by anyone outside their home, they may be trapped in an unsuitable environment.


I believe that Home Education may be beneficial to some children – their needs, additional or otherwise, can be met more effectively at home due to the closer attention they receive and the ability to adapt instantly and change plans as required, rather than balancing the needs of 30+ children in a typical class.

Home education can allow learning to be more focussed and efficient. Children’s questions can be answered immediately, instead of waiting in line to ask a question, or being afraid to ask for help. In school it is easy for a child who is struggling to go unnoticed. In my own experience my daughter’s [personal information] were not understood or met during her time in primary school. My 2 sons struggled to ask for help in school – 1 because he doesn’t want to be a bother to the teacher and the other because he is too proud/stubborn/afraid to ask. Of course one needs to be careful not to spoonfeed them and children should be allowed to make mistakes and find out answers for themselves too – there is a balance to be found. Children need to be enabled to be confident learners.

In many ways home education can provide a fuller education – with more opportunities for experiential learning, tailored to the individual. Children may excel in areas, without the limitations set by school. 

Potential disadvantages – Not all parents/carers are able to provide their children with what they need. This can be due to finances, personal knowledge and limitations, other commitments, their own personal needs and wants.

Not all children are in a suitable environment . Housing may be poor/chaotic/have poor access to being outdoors.

Our personal circumstances mean that I am currently unable to work for various reasons, namely, my health and my caring responsibilities for our older daughter. Fortunately my husband is able to earn enough to keep us all and can do this from home. Fortunately he is choosing to support us all.

We, as parents, are both relatively intelligent, socially responsibly, well educated people. My working background has been within childcare/playwork/teaching. I feel well placed to understand and meet the needs of our children. However, my health is variable and my input into schooling can be affected by this. On bad days, we do school from my bed – I instruct/support by writing/typing notes when I am too puffed out to speak. On good days we do school at the kitchen table. We are fortunate to have a spacious house with a large garden. Currently we are socially isolated due to Covid-19 and us shielding in order to protect me. Without the covid risk I would still be very limited in my ability to socialise and enable the children to do so too. My current health means that I cannot walk very far before getting puffed out – I have to carefully balance how much I move or speak in order to avoid asthma attacks. I also have many allergens to avoid. We are hopeful that my health will improve and then we will be able to socialise again.

Not all those who choose to home educate are necessarily able to do so effectively.

Quality and accessibility of support available – I am struggling to find support – the local Elective Home Ed team are inundated. I have spoken to someone in their team who has said that they will contact us when they can. I think due to covid-19 and the previous period of school closure, there are many lessons and resources available on-line that perhaps would not have been before. Eg. Classroom Secrets and National Oak Academy. I feel like a fraud seeking the support of other elective home educators who were doing this by choice previously, we have been forced into elective home education.  I am not against Home ed in any way and have toyed with the idea previously, however, on balance, we would rather our children were in school. I would have liked to home ed our daughter, since mainstream school was simply a test of endurance and something that we just to get through. I could not afford to do so at that time.

I am incredibly grateful that Twinkl, Classroom Secrets, National Oak academy etc exist. I would not know where to start otherwise. However, if we couldn’t afford to pay for such subscriptions our children would be at a disadvantage.

I am not aware of any financial support available for home educators. We are fortunate to have had the resources that we had, before being forced into this situation.

I do not know how any children with additional needs, caring responsibilities, mental health issues, or at transitional stages would get any support if no-one asked for it on their behalf. Not all parents are able to do this. (I had to fight to get my daughter what she needed when she was in mainstream ed, with the full support of her school. [personal information])

What happens to the children who no-one else is seeing and whose parents do not provide/seek what they need either?


I do not know anything about the current regulatory framework .


Inspection in future regulation – I think that it would be healthy if there was some inspection/evidence provided by families to show what their children are experiencing. This may allow opportunity to support/safeguard children and their families. This could be done, for example, virtually, in the home or at another mutually agreed location etc. I do not imagine that surprise visits would be welcomed, nor necessarily give a balanced impression of the home ed being provided. I am not sure that gradings would be helpful either (such as those afforded by Ofsted to schools.) My approach would be to assess each family’s situation/circumstances and help them to set appropriate, realistic aims for their children. I would make “inspections” friendly and relaxed and ensure that families felt supported rather than being under scrutiny.

Such inspections/regulations should  give respect and value to different families approaches and beliefs. Perhaps families and regulators could agree together upon what was the best for specific children.

I do not know what improvements there have been since the 2012 Support for Home Ed report.


Impact of Covid-19 upon Home ed children

I imagine that the social side of home ed life will have been impacted upon – limiting outings/classes/clubs etc. Social media and technology will have been beneficial to those who have both access and the capabilities to make use of it.

The on-line provision of curriculum based support for schools may have been helpful to home ed families too, if they knew about it/were able to access it.

Social distancing may have been beneficial to some children with additional needs who struggle with noise, crowds etc. (I know that if we had been able to cease shielding, we would have made the most of the quieter opportunities to explore our community with our daughter, [personal information].)

November 2020