Written evidence submitted by [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.]


My name is [name] and I home educate my 3 children, who are [age], [age] and [age]. I work as a private tutor in [subjects] (I have a [subject] degree from [name] University). I help children achieve success in private school entrance exams, GCSEs, and generally with their academic studies. I tutor both school and home educated children. I have been home educating my own children full time since [date].


My children have thrived since being home educated. (They were home educated at the beginning, and then they went part time to an independent school until [date].) Being educated at home means that their education is tailored individually to them. As I know so well from my work as a tutor, children can advance so much faster when taught one-on-one, than in a class of many children. I let them reach their full potential in all their subjects. For some subjects this means that they are far ahead of where they would be allowed to be if they were in any school, however good a school. In maths, my son is working at a level of 6 years above his age according to the National Curriculum. This is not due to him being a genius, he is just going at his natural pace. Children in China are taught maths at a level many, many years above children in the UK, where the standard expected is very low. If my son were at school, he would be held back at what he is naturally good at, and not able to reach anywhere near his full potential. His time would be wasted studying at a level well below his ability.


Similarly, my older two children are both at a level of Latin which school children (if they do it) get to at about 14 years old. If they were in school, they would simply not be given the opportunity to do this. For all subjects, the pace is exactly right for them personally.


With regards to socialising, there are so many opportunities in the home educating community (and generally) for all sorts of activities and spending time with other children (when not restricted by the government as a result of Covid-19). Again, the freedom of this cannot be matched in any school – my children can see other children who they like to see, to do activities they like to do, when it suits them best to do it.


I understand that parents who educate their children at home will vary, and so the opportunities of the children will vary. However, if regulation/monitoring/assessment of home educated children is introduced, it will inevitably lead to a loss of the freedom and autonomy that makes home education so wonderful. Many parents choose to educate their children outside of the school system precisely because they don’t want the homogeneous, inflexible approach of schools. Furthermore, the people who would be monitoring it/imposing the regulations, would be local councils. If I don’t want schools having control over my children’s education, I certainly don’t want local council employees to.


With regards to the proposed statutory register of home educated children, it seems to be a rather incoherent proposal, especially with regards to a punishment for not registering. If a family does not declare themselves to be home educating, and then the Local Authority becomes aware of them, I see no justification for a punishment, surely the Local Authority will then just put them on the list. If, on the other hand, a family does not register and the Local Authority does not become aware of them, then it is no different to now. I understand that the punishment would be to try to force people to register, in the fear of being found out and punished, but it is a rather sinister path to go down, and would surely mean that families who don’t want to register would have to take steps to avoid detection which would be detrimental to the child, for example, not taking them to public places in the week or not registering them for public exams.


One aspect that could be improved is the negative effect of government restrictions on home education. Children are allowed to attend schools with hundreds or thousands of people, but unclarity around the coronavirus regulations has resulted in most activities and socialising opportunities normally open to home educated children being no longer available. I think that it should be made clearer to families who home educate that their groups and communities are allowed to continue. It is unfair to effectively penalise home educated children in this way. In my understanding people are allowed to leave the home for education, but in practice this is very difficult, as all venues are shut, and most people seem to believe they are not allowed. It is taking a lot more effort than usual to arrange activities and meetings.


Lastly, I am aware that some children may have been excluded from school and their parents may not feel equipped to home educate them satisfactorily. From my experience, there seems to be ample support from the local authority if you want it. I do not think that regulations need to be extended or tightened in order to help these families, as this would have a negative impact on all the other families, who are the majority, I believe. Help is there for those who want it, I see no justification for extending power of local authorities.


In conclusion, the decision regarding what is best for their child and the education of their child has to remain with parents. If more regulation/monitoring by the state is introduced it will be moving that responsibility away from the parent (there are already measures in place to ensure that children are safe and looked after). This is fundamentally important. Many, many families feel passionate about this. Nothing is more important to me than my children, and no state/government can be trusted to have the final say on what is right for my children.


November 2020