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.]

Call For Evidence Home Education Submission


I am a qualified teacher with over [a number of years] years’ experience in education, including primary school teaching, running my own business providing educational experience days to schools, teaching English as an additional language as a qualified CELTA teacher, working in a secondary school as a technician and running my own childminding business.

Despite all this experience in the education system, I have chosen to home educate my child. I made this decision because I was concerned about the levels of assessment currently undertaken in school. I didn’t want my son to be labelled in his first weeks of Reception. I was also concerned with a narrowness of the current curriculum. It is not the broad and balanced curriculum that I trained to teach.

The benefits for our family of home educating are huge. Our son is [personal information] one of the younger children in his year. He is very active and creative. Home education has enabled us to tailor his education to his needs, maturity and interests. This is not to be underestimated. Instead of being coerced to sit still, to read before he is ready, to write before his fine motor skills are sufficiently developed, we are able to provide lots of activities that allow movement, and provide support for the times he wants to sit at the table to do something, even at meal times. For example we have bought a wobble cushion, foot hammock and box of fidgets which he can use when he wants to. In school this need is unlikely to have been met as our son needs would have been unlikely to be considered serious enough for funding to be spent on that. Actual teaching time in mainstream schools is not the headlined 5.5 hours a day. By the time you take out time for assembly, moving children around, break times, dealing with classroom discipline/friendship issues/ interruptions, starting and stopping pieces of work, actual input time from the teacher is very limited, and children have to stop and start according to the school timetable not according to their needs or interests. Our son benefits from one to one support to facilitate him in pursuing his interests, in a way that meets his learning styles and sensory needs. He is able to go to the toilet when he needs to, eat and drink when he needs to and rest when he needs to. He is learning how to be responsible for meeting his own physical needs. He is also able to contribute to running our home, helping out with household tasks and learning essential lifeskills such as cooking.

Socialisation is another great benefit from home education. Our son meets and mixes with people of all ages, not just a group of children from the area we live in who happen to be born within the same 12 months as him. Visiting shops, cafes, church, activities like gymnastics, swimming and home education groups regularly means he is confident in talking to adults and other children of various ages. He is able to have conversations with adults, order for himself in a café, explain what he needs, play with both younger and older children.

A broad and balanced curriculum was a phrase drummed into me during my teacher training. When visiting our local schools to see if we did want to send our son to school, both my husband, another former primary school teacher, and myself were concerned with the huge emphasis on maths and English to the detriment of all other subjects. These schools were doing their best, but we had both experienced this narrowing of the curriculum for ourselves as teachers and this had only got worse. Home education allows us to explore the richness the world has to offer, whenever it catches our son’s interest. We can learn about how a circuit works, we can paint, we can plan and cook dinner together with out the constraints of a timetable or discrete subjects. Not for us the refusal to play football in the garden because it is maths time. Instead we enjoy our football, exercising our bodies, learning about the physics of how a ball moves when it is kicked, counting the goals or keepy upies, learning about sensitivity towards a loser when we win.

We are a Christian family and had concerns over how sex education is taught in schools. I undertook the Certification for Teachers of PSHE when I was a teacher, and was PSHE co-ordinator in my school. I am a firm believer in sex and relationship education, but we wanted to present this in a Christian context. Home Education allows us to do this in a way that reflects our beliefs and at a time that is appropriate for our child. It also allows us to tackle issues such as anti-racism and other religious beliefs in a way that follows our core belief of loving our neighbour as ourself.

The main disadvantage that I have experienced in the home education world, is friends’ concerns over access to public exams and in support for children with SEND, especially getting assessments for ADHD and dyslexia which often have to be undertaken privately. This places children who are home educated at a disadvantage to their peers in school.  As a family our main difficulty has been accessing the annual flu vaccine spray which is administered at school. Our GPs surgery have been helpful and able to provide the vaccine but have had to check on the process every time.

As an ex teacher and childminder I have undertaken safeguarding training on many occasions. I understand that this is an area of great concern. The very sad truth is that children are at risk, whether they are in school or home educated. A register of home educated children may be a useful tool, but the opportunities for it to be abused are great, especially if the academic achievement of children is scrutinised. Schools do not work for everyone, and not every child who is in school is in a safe home environment. I know this because I have experienced it first hand as a teacher. There are children who do not thrive in school or fit in with the academic tick boxes. There are children who spend 12 years in the school system and still leave with no qualifications, unable to read or write, or do basic maths. The school system, a formal education with discrete subjects, taught to a specific curriculum and timetable, does not guarantee success for everyone. I would be extremely concerned that someone from the local authority would have the right to come and inspect my parenting because I have taken the perfectly legal route of providing my child’s education by other means, namely elective home education.

Having worked as a childminder I have welcomed Ofsted into my home, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children I was paid to look after. My home was serving the dual purpose of workplace and home. I was undertaking paid work. Inspection was needed in this case. As a home educating parent I would not be willing to open my home to inspection by Ofsted. What exactly would be checked? Where does parenting stop and home education start? Would this lead to my child being forced into school?

The issues of unregistered schools and off rolling have unfortunately been bundled in with elective home education. An unregistered school is a concern, and more needs to be done to deal with these, but it should not be ‘lumped in’ with elective home education and used as an excuse to introduce regulatory frameworks, beyond what is already required for a school. If they are working as a school, the school legislation needs to apply to them, not home education legislation. Off rolling just proves how inadequate the school system is at dealing with some children and providing them with the education they need. These parents have not chosen to home educate their children, the system has failed them. Again this is not elective home education. It is a different issue and should be dealt with separately.

COVID-19 has had a huge impact on home education. With unclear guidance on whether home education groups can continue, my son has definitely experienced a lack of opportunities. Other activities like gymnastic class and swimming lessons all stopped and when playgrounds were also closed it meant we were reliant on our home for all our experiences. We are lucky to have a garden, but for a home educating family living in a flat, with no access to an outdoor space, closing playgrounds could be extremely challenging. Access to WIFI is also an issue as we were able to keep in contact with friends via the internet, but again not everybody is able to do this. As a family we have had to be extremely careful [personal information]. What would have been most useful was clear and specific guidance, quickly issued, for home education groups who meet regularly, so they could continue to meet as safely as possible.


November 2020