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.]


Home Education – Call for evidence


We have been home educating our children for [a number of] years. One of us taught in state primary schools for [a number of] years, and additionally worked as a private tutor. We chose to home educate our children from the start. Having looked at what the Reception children were studying at the local schools, we realised that our eldest was already working well beyond this level. This was his own inquisitive desire to learn, not through us pushing him. Our youngest, by contrast, was a later developer. Again, we have been able to tailor her education to her level, and she achieved well above the national average by the end of Key Stage One.

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

Parents know their child best – for example they know if the child is tired (and probably know why, too), or emotionally troubled by something. But further, they know what their child is capable of. Consequently, they can supply an education tailored to the individual child’s needs and ability, without pressuring the child to keep up with the class or holding them back. It is widely reported that more school children than ever are suffering under stress, but this can be effectively mitigated when educating at home because the work is appropriate to the child. Furthermore, the additional stresses of social media and peer pressure are significantly reduced at home.

Parents are able to supply near one-to-one tuition. This means the opportunity to tailor the curriculum to the interests of the child, while pacing work appropriately. Due to the small class size, parents can identify weaknesses more quickly and make sure that they are covered. In our own experience it was easy to have a superficial understanding that passed in-school tests, but not the solid understanding necessary to provide a good base for more advanced learning.

We can focus on our children’s strengths because we are not trying to educate an entire class. For example we can spend more time on subjects that the child enjoys, and perhaps less on some of the non-core subjects that they are unlikely to ever find useful. We can allow our children to have much more time and freedom to follow their own interests than they would enjoy in school, and this encourages independent research. Our daughter is very keen on crafts no cardboard box is safe - and loves sewing and art, whereas our son is interested to research farming and IT and is [personal information].

Interestingly, it is often asserted that home-educated children lack social interaction with their peers, yet we find that our children enjoy a much richer society than we did at school. They interact with people of all age groups and backgrounds, for example there are peer families with babies, visits to old-age care home, and community groups with children from across the country. This contrasts favourably with the often very cliquey, age-limited interactions in a school environment. Home education encourages children to be comfortable with their differences. In school settings children that are different to the norm are often picked out and bullied.

Because we home educate we are able to be very flexible. We don’t have to stick to rigid hours if the work is done, so can take advantage of other opportunities. We find that education continues outside of regular school hours, for example taking a nature walk if it’s a pleasant afternoon, or working with a plumber on a leaking pipe at our home, or discussing the morning’s lessons over lunch. In any case, we find we are more efficient, with no time spent travelling to school, nor in things such as registration, calling the class to order, and waiting for others to finish before we can move on.

Finally, although we realise this will not be the case for all parents, we are able to select ‘best-of-breed’ resources to aid learning, whereas in school budgetary constraints or a need to fit in with school standard can limit this.

Whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required, and the role that inspection should play in future regulation of home education

The primary responsibility for a child’s education lies with their parents, not with the state. Why should parents need to register with the state to teach their own children?

Furthermore, it is difficult to see how mandatory registration will help, because those who are mistreating their children will not register anyway.

With regard to inspection, one of the great advantages of home education is that it is so flexible. How are inspectors going to be able to assess the widely-varying styles? If inspections are made by the LEA then, since they are already stretched to capacity, the temptation will be to revert to a tick-box assessment. But it should be particularly borne in mind that the strait-jacket approach offered by school education is often what has prompted parents to choose home education as being more suitable for their children.

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’

Elective home education is often unhelpfully lumped together with other things. For example, elective home education is not:

It should be noted that local authorities already have powers to intervene in cases where they suspect that children are being mistreated. If changes are needed to deal with these matters then care should be taken that these changes do not negatively affect elective home educators and their children.

No doubt there is a broad range of academic achievement amongst home educated children, including some low grades. Yet many children that attend school settings also fail to achieve good academic results. Does this mean that the current regulatory framework is inadequate for school educated children too?

We are not aware of any cases, either in our personal experience, or via the media, where it can clearly be shown that registration and inspection would have made a material difference to the quality of education or wellbeing.

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

Although our children have not yet reached that age, we are aware that it is difficult for home educators to access reasonably-priced local exam centres.

Also, it would be helpful if provision were made for coursework assessment for students wanting to study more practical subjects such as art, textiles, food technology etc.

Since COVID-19 no provision has been made for home-educated candidates to be assessed, and consequently their transition to further and higher education has been delayed by a year or more.

In our case we had friends that were already home educating, and they were able to provide some advice. However, for other parents starting out in home education it may be helpful to provide a resource centre to help them understand what groups and resources are available to support them.

While we have been able to perform science experiments at home, we would still appreciate the provision of science labs so that children can perform experiments under qualified supervision with the necessary materials and equipment supplied.


November 2020