Written evidence submitted by Mr Patrick Feerick


Evidence for Consultation on Home Schooling

Submission by Patrick Feerick

I have recently retired and my last post was as an OFSTED inspector of school, which I carried out for about 10 years. Most of my working life was spent as secondary head of Science in Secondary education. I am also the father of three children and currently three grandchildren.

For the best part of a year we homeschooled our children, when we had moved to a new area and were finding it difficult to get places for our 3 children in local schools.

The home schooling was very successful. So much so that when our children eventually went back to school they were at least up to the level of their peers and in some areas above them

I would attribute this to the ability in homeschooling to give each child much more concentrated attention. It was possible to focus in on exactly what our children found difficult and to help them over these difficulties.  In a class of 30 pupils such individual and concentrated help is not possible. I know from personal experience how difficult it is for a teacher or learning assistant to get around to every pupil and make sure they are able to make progress and help them sort out their problems. Frequently pupils will get stuck on a problem and do not fully understand. The teacher then has to move on and the child never really grasps the issue. The child therefore accumulates a series of partly understood ideas. Much of a pupil’s time can be wasted  because they get stuck, or are proceeding along the wrong lines. 

I am very concerned about the proposals being put forward to alter the regime for homeschooling.

The 1996 Act makes it compulsory for parents to educate their children but not t send them to school.  Homeschooling cannot be an exact copy of school, though it has the same broad aims. If the child is being educated to externally agreed standards, this should be enough. How the child is educated is down to the parents.  The state should not be prescriptive in how parents educate their children so long as they do so and to a satisfactory standard.

In my experience with Ofsted I found that frequently schools were innovative in how they educated their children. Their methods of teaching did not fit the run of the mill mould but they were effective. However I also noticed that some Ofsted inspectors were over critical of schools and teachers who did things in a different way. This is what I fear could happen if Ofsted gets over involved in monitoring homeschools.

In schools it is the teachers who take the place of the parents “in loco parnetis” the teachers are acting on behalf of the parents, not the state.

Local authorities already have powers to ensure that homeschooled children are receiving a good education.  The further powers requested by the Department for Education are unnecessary and would represent an intrusion into the realm of the parents.

If it isn’t broke, don’t mend it.

Patrick Feerick


November 2020