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.]


The duties of local authorities with regards to home education, including safeguarding and assuring the quality of home education.


In my personal experience, and within my local community, it is often reported that local authority Home education departments do not understand how home education works. My local authority, [town], utilises a marking form to assess provision, which is returned to parents following informal enquires. This form has marking columns grading provision on the amount of ‘work’ being recorded and organised and states they have expectations for parents to have a clear plan of provision for each forthcoming year. However in law this not a requirement for home education provision (EHE guidance for parents  section 2.11 and EHE guidance for local authorities 2.4) an actively places unfair bias against some home education approaches such as autonomous and self directed learning.


Gateshead state on their EHE information page

if you are not able to evidence that a suitable education is being provided, the local authority will work with you to put your child back into school.”


The local authority should be positively working with families to determine if an education is suitable. If not, working with them to outline what evidence or changes are required to make that provision suitable. This statement suggests a working bias towards moving home educated children into school education. I doubt local authorities would treat inadequate school provision equally – working with parents to move children to home education where school education is not suitable. Home education and school education are equal in law.

Whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required;


Most local authorities already maintain a voluntary register. This information is obtained through data sharing information from children de-registering from school, health professionals, nursery provision.


The [town] EHE support page outlines to parents:

-          You will receive no financial support for home education, this includes funding towards exam fees, resources and tutors.

-          We can signpost to websites for example but we will not provide any education for children who are home educated.

-          There are no funds directly available from central government for parents who decide to educate their children at home.


The local authority is very clear, as it is in law, that they offer no support to families who elect to home educate. I am unsure how parents and children benefit from a compulsory register, which offers no support for doing so.


Long standing evidence also confirms that registers themselves do not safeguard children. There are many cases of vulnerable children being harmed despite being on a register (social services/school/health authorities.) Data can be lost or illegally shared which can harm children. 

There needs to be analysis of the long term harm a register could inflict on Home educated children – there are no other involuntary child registration mechanisms currently in place where there is no evidence of harm. What are the impacts of a child being registered with the local authority when it comes to adulthood, what happens to their data and who has it been shared with/ has access to it?


Parents voluntarily choose to register with school, health professionals etc because it provides children with something they attribute to giving positive benefit to their lives. In law parents can chose not to register with services if they decide against it. This can be evidenced in the current position that children under 5 have no mandatory registrations put upon them and all professional provision is optional. Local authorities are already very clear when dealing with parents that being known to the local authority provides no support. Perhaps a voluntary register would have a greater uptake if there were perceived benefits from doing so (exam provision, membership to local organization for example)


The benefits children gain from home education, and the potential disadvantages they may face


In my personal situation home education has enable my child to learn literacy at their own pace. They have [personal information]. We have been able to take a little and often approach. Taking advantage, that we can do more practice when they are engaged and interested, less when they are finding [personal information]. We were able to put off formal literacy until they had received [personal information], concentrating on listening skills, writing and creative literacy. In this time they have also socially matured and want to learn to read to enable them to achieve day to day goals – increased motivation. I’m not sure we would have been able to achieve this support in school without comparison to more able peers. My child is confident in their ability to read as they do not compare their ability to peers who find reading more naturally easy.


The home education community is welcoming and inclusive. My child has a variety of friends of differing ages and interests. Age is not a barrier to companionship in home education.


The main disadvantage we face as a family is the perceptions of home education to the general public (although this has reduced since the covid lockdown made home education compulsory). We are unusually noticeable on a day to day basis. The public notice school age children outside during school hours and we can spend much time being questioned on what we do, who we see and what we learn. Every time we go out someone will ask my child why she is not in school (notice they don’t ask the parent). I find most media articles are negative about home education linking it to abuse, poor educational outcomes and poor socialisation – although I know the evidence base is non-existent for this accusation and often the opposite. Most evidence shows home educated individuals have lower abuse rates and higher educational attainments/levels in comparison to schooled children and are able to interact with others as well as schooled children.






The role that inspection should play in future regulation of home education


In law parents are responsible for the provision of a their children’s education. School and education otherwise are equal in law and parents are responsible for the decision on choosing the  educational provider best suited for their children.


EHE Guidance for parents

2.2. There is no legislation that deals with home education as a specific approach. However, Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 provides that:

The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable -

(a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and
(b) to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.


Ofsted inspects provision by external education providers on behalf of the parents and to report back to them. If parents become a party/provider to be inspected are they then really to be held responsible for a childs education or does this mean that education is then the responsibility of the state?

Does this then enable children to hold the state accountable for not receiving a suitable education?


At present many Local Authority EHE staff are not trained in the methodology behind home education. Many local authorities seem to have a department aim of returning children to school. (https://www.blackpooljobs.org.uk/Documents/3587146.pdf see page two job outline)

Many EHE advisors have a school or teaching background – most home educators do not provide school at home but a very different educational provision. Many EHE departments are also dealing with vulnerable children and children missing education – which home educated children are not.

Rather than an inspectorate role, which would be draconian and invasive for many home educating families, perhaps a supporting advocacy role would build far more positive relationships. One where the local authority is keen to keep children within home education and support families. EHE staff should be trained in many methods of home education, perhaps they should be current or previous home educators themselves and at a minimum have experience in a bespoke educational setting.


What improvements have been made to support home educators since the 2010-15 Education Committee published their report on ‘Support for Home Education’ in 2012


Local authorities have a responsibility to follow the law, and to be seen to do so.

Does your Local Authority currently have ultra vires statements on their websites regarding home education:


[town] Council EHE Home Education website

“If you are not able to evidence that a suitable education is being provided, the local authority will work with you to put your child back into school”


[town] EHE Strategy 2020-25

The local authority’s strategy was amended after consultation with stakeholders, which is very positive. Initially the EHE team had wished to implement a policy of referral to the EHE-MAG team  (Multi agency group, including social care, police among others) when the education was deemed to be suitable but the EHE staff member had not personally visited the child via a home visit. I am very pleased this was changed, as this policy would have been ultra vires.


  1. Does your local authority share best practice and to achieve more consistency between local authorities with regard to home education? Yes/No 
  2. Has your local support officer engaged in any accreditation or improved training for local authority officers about home education?
  3. In line with the Department for Education’s transparency drive have you seen any evidence or been made aware of the DfE carrying out an audit of local authorities’ performance regarding home education, and is the information available on their websites and elsewhere, and are any results published
  4. Has the DfE conducted any audits ascertaining which local authorities are performing well with regard to home education.


I am unable to access/find any information in regards to [town] Local Authority and the points above. However I do think it would help build positive relationships with families if this information was shared with them.


The conclusion and recommendation is that it is inappropriate for home education officers to be located with those working on attendance, children in care or safeguarding. Local authority officers dealing with home 24 Support for Home Education ought to be situated within a dedicated team, or sit within a neutral location such as learning or library services. Has this happened in your area or not?


The EHE staff members for [town] Local Authority are designated in the Fair Access team.

-[town] class any children for whom education is not enrolled in a school setting within their Fair Access Protocols documents. 

-The Fair access protocol documents also refer to the EHE strategy as a relevant document to this policy.

-This team also deals with behaviour management, exclusions, managed moves, attendance, CME and admissions.


Fair Access documents coding highlights the team work with:

[town] Primary Fair Access Protocol August 2017

FAP3 who have been out of education for longer than one school term e.g. pupils who are home educated, parents have removed from school, pupils who choose not to attend who are not currently on
a school roll (this does not apply to persistent absentees or to pupils who have been taken off a school roll due to non-attendance)

FAP5 with unsupportive family backgrounds, where a place has not been sought

FAP7 without a school place and with a history of serious attendance problems e.g. pupils who move into [town]

FAP8 who move into the area with complex behaviour issues

FAP22 a year 6 child who transfers schools between September and may half term”

EHE Staff members for [town] Local Authority are not within a neutral service and classify Electively Home Educated children as being out of education

The conclusion said:  we do not recommend any system-wide changes to financial support for home educators. However, where funding is available, central Government needs to explain better how this can be obtained and utilised. We cannot understand why some local authorities refuse to utilise or claim such funding, and urge those that have done so to change their position. Has provision of services and other support for home education been made clear to you through communication from your local authority either voluntarily or on request?


[town] Local Authority EHE team are very clear within their documentation that the local authority are unable to offer any support to EHE children or their families.


[town] Home Education website 02/11/2020

“We support your right as a parent to choose to home educate your child.  This does need to be done with a full understanding of the responsibilities that this includes.


You are not entitled to claim for free schools meals


You will receive no financial support for home education, this includes funding towards exam fees, resources and tutors


We can signpost to websites for example but we will not provide any education for children who are home educated


You will be expected to be able to evidence the education they are providing


If you are not able to evidence that a suitable education is being provided, the local authority will work with you to put your child back into school


There are no funds directly available from central government for parents who decide to educate their children at home”


Personally when I have contacted my EHE advisor for information they have not replied to me.

The EHE advisor ‘doorstepped’ me at my home in 2016, when the team had been advised that we intended to home educate. My child was [age] years old, so not compulsory school age and no attempt to arrange an appointment in writing had been made. I complained to the team, as I felt this was inappropriate and a safe guarding issue (a stranger visiting my home unannounced to see my child) but they did not feel they had done anything incorrectly.

The impact COVID-19 has had on home educated children, and what additional measures might need to be taken in order to mitigate any negative impacts.’


During lockdown my child did have the advantage that they are accustomed to leading their own educational interests and having parental support to achieve their aims. It was difficult to be confined regularly within the home, as much of our education takes place outdoors or in other venues. However this confinement was true for every child not just home educated ones.


Disadvantages have been felt during lighter covid restrictions. I feel schooled children have been better supported to maintain social interactions. In school children have scheduled time to socialise freely with their friends for at minimum an hour daily. I have seen in our local school that this is without social distancing being enforced in any way but utilising social bubbles. Home educated children have not been afforded this benefit and the out of school settings guidance (I would point out EHE is not an OOSS it is equal to school) includes a EHE section which suggests any educational provision with other children must be formal education and must not include any socialising. Home educating parents are aware how important it is for children’s development to socialise with their peers regularly. It would have been wise for legislation to create a framework for home educated children to have social bubbles themselves. Being able to link with one or two other home educated families for social and educational interactions during school hours would have been clear instruction, beneficial to education, health and wellbeing and low transmission risk for these children.


November 2020