Written evidence submitted by Mrs Gemma Nash

I am a home-educating parent who loves being involved full-time in my children’s education. We find it an incredibly positive experience. I am concerned about the potential increased state interference in families. I choose to home educate my children as I believe it is best for them. As a parent I have the primary responsibility for the education of my children. I have responded to the specific requests for evidence below:

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

The Local Authority need not have any duties with regards to home education, it being the responsibility of the parents. Safeguarding is of course an important part of the local authorities’ duties, but home educating is not a safeguarding issue. The current legislation permitting local authorities to intervene where there is evidence that children are at risk, or not receiving an adequate education seems a sensible balance. There is no need to increase the oversight of an already overburdened local authority which will likely only result in pressure put on conscientious citizens.

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

A statutory register would be a waste of already limited resources. It would be a concerning move towards state interference in family life. Parents have responsibility for their children –not the state. I do not believe there is any evidence that such a register is needed or would be effective.

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

There are numerous benefits from home education, many of which I have experience first-hand with my own children. The ability to go at the pace of the individual, not the speed of a class of 30. To be able to teach individually, and respond to questions immediately. To delve further into topics that interest. To teach holistically, not compartmentalise subjects. To include others from the wider family and community in the children’s education. To have more time outdoors, enjoying and exploring nature. To spend time as a family, developing and cementing relationships. To consider more topics, particularly those of interest to the child. Home education can be a safe environment for those who have experienced bullying. Home educated children often have more opportunity to grow in self-directed learning.

Potentially home educated children may struggle to take exams if venues do not continue to accept external candidates. They are sometimes also subject to biased perceptions of others.

The quality and accessibility of support (including financial support) available for home educators and their children, including those with special educational needs, disabilities, mental health issues, or caring responsibilities, and those making the transition to further and higher education;

There is little. Any support offered should be voluntary. Financial assistance with exam fees or enhanced access to exam centres would be an excellent means of supporting home educators.

Whether the current regulatory framework is sufficient to ensure that the wellbeing and academic achievement of home educated children is safeguarded, including where they may attend unregistered schools, have been formally excluded from school, or have been subject to ‘off-rolling’;

These are separate issues, and it is unhelpful to lump them together. Unregistered schools and ‘off-rolling’ are not elective home education.

Home education is not a safeguarding issue. Indeed many parents home educate to protect their children. It is interesting to note that evidence from 2015 found that although home educated children in England were twice as likely to be referred to Social Services, they were in fact 2-3 times less likely than a child in school to be subject to a Child Protection Plan. (see http://www.personalisededucationnow.org.uk/wpcontent/uploads/2015/02/home-education-and-the-safeguarding-myth-signed.WCW_-1.pdf )

The current regulatory framework, if correctly used, appears sufficient.

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

Local authorities should only be involved in families where there are legitimate concerns. There is already sufficient provision for this. There is no evidence that anything more is necessary, rather inspection would be an intrusion into family life. It would also be very difficult to practically inspect such a variation of approaches.

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;

I do not believe that the improvements suggested have been implemented, and those that have, have certainly not been across the board. It is indeed a ‘post-code lottery’ when dealing with the Local Authorities on home education.

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.’

I know that there were many home-educated teens who were unable to receive their qualifications in 2020 as they did not have a predicted grade. This put many at a serious disadvantage to their peers. There has also been struggles with rebooking exam centres, and unrecoverable financial costs.

The shutting down of many home educating groups, especially those which usually operate on a social basis, has been hard on many children and young people.


November 2020