Written evidence submitted by Mrs J Kirby

Call for evidence: Home Education

Introduction to you or your organisation and your reason for submitting evidence:


I am a parent, and I am also educated to postgraduate level in the field of education. I am currently home educating one child of compulsory school age, and one child of reception age. We have always electively home educated.


I am responding in order to speak up for some of the huge benefits of elective home education.


I also feel it is important to protect the freedom of choice for families to choose the best education for their child. I have contact with many home educating families, and I see dedicated parents providing high quality tailored education for their individual children. I do not see a need for increased regulation of families; rather, the local authorities should be the focus of any attention.


I also feel it is important to protect valuable public resources from being misguidedly used to regulate elective home education, when they would be better used elsewhere. I see the concerns of some of those in government, however I feel a focus on elective home education is not the correct approach.


Finally, let us not forget that the verb “educate” is strongly connected to raising, bringing up, drawing out (educare/ educere). It is not the state but the parents and family who hold this responsibility towards their child. I believe it is very important to keep the locus of bringing up children within the family, not the state.

Any state concerns should be directed towards schools or local authorities, not towards parents.


Parents are responsible for the child’s education, according to the Education Act 1996 (Section 7).

Local Authorities should be there for support if the parents ask for it. It should not be their job to assure the quality of the personalised education provided to the home educated child. That is the parents’ job.

Safeguarding is not an educational issue, so it should not be put together with education. They are two completely different areas. It is a waste of resources and also makes various problematic assumptions to imply that a choice to home educate is a safeguarding risk. Many children attending school need much more safeguarding care.

Social services, not local education authorities, should be concerned with safeguarding.

Many other concerns can be addressed in other ways.



No, a statutory register is not appropriate and is not required.


It would be a waste of resources.


What’s the point? “Missing” children are not those being home educated.


When placed next to other registers which exist, a register for home educated children would be quite problematic in terms of autonomy and privacy, and the underlying implications of the validity of elective home education.




There are so many benefits to elective home education. I cannot think of any meaningful disadvantages to the child. I cannot even think of any potential disadvantages which do not also apply to school or any educational setting.


Benefits: Home educated children get to spend their young lives with their family, parents and siblings. They get to spend their time with the people who care about them the most, the people who have the most interest in making sure they have a suitable education, and the most important relationships for their whole lives.


Home educated children can receive a completely personalised education according to their age, development, interest, aptitude and ability.


Home educated children can learn at the times of day that suit their natural rhythms, and focus for extended lengths of time or shorter lengths of time according to what suits their needs and interests. They can take a movement break, a refreshment break, or sing while working, if they need to, without disrupting the rest of their class.


They can learn in community with other home educated children who share their interests and love of learning, but without having to go along with the rest of the class as in school. They can mix with different ages in an emotionally safe and non-hierarchical way without so many of the social tensions that come into a school setting.


Although the national curriculum is not without value, parents of home educated children can choose to follow other curricula or syllabi which suit their child, and allow them best to learn all the necessary skills and knowledge in the order and way which suits them personally, while still being able to sit recognised exams when the time comes.


Parents can educate children in the culture of modern life in Britain at a guided pace suitable for the individual child, and be best placed to guide them through any worries, rather than the child being exposed to age-inappropriate content without the parents being aware, as can happen in school playgrounds.


Home educated children can make friends with others according to personality and interests rather than just through being in the same class. Equally, they can avoid bullying much more easily, and any bullying-type behaviour (whether the child is a recipient or a perpetrator) can be addressed in much more depth by parents rather than through the stretched resources of a school.


They can avoid the emotional suffering of separation anxiety, particularly for younger children, instead forming secure attachment and developing emotional regulation, leading to much better health outcomes through their whole lives. It is not a stretch to point out that this can save money in relation to accessing mental health services in the future.


The increase in home educated children after Covid-19 has highlighted some of the ways in which a school environment is not the best place for some children to develop emotional stability, discipline, respect for others and family bonds. Home education tends to provide a much more supportive and less competitive community atmosphere in which many children flourish.



I personally have not tried to access such support.

In future a financial concern for me would be for exams and the sitting of exams.



“Safeguarded” is not an appropriate term here.


Unregistered schools are not home education and should not be included here.


The fear of “radicalisation” and whether children are being raised in a way that is “suitable for modern British society” are not mentioned in these questions, but there is surely an unspoken concern by some. However, the response to these fears should not be greater regulation of elective home education. Unregistered schools should be addressed separately.


Formally excluded from school and off-rolling are also not the same as elective home education and should not be included here.


As for academic achievement, the current framework seems like it could be sufficient, but the problem is that some local authorities are (anecdotally) acting outside the law and being quite threatening in their communications with parents, leading to the parents feeling very intimidated and under scrutiny.


It would be better for local authorities to be asked to take a more gentle approach, and to presume good intentions on the part of the parents.


It is the local authorities that should be regulated, not the parents.





If anything, it is the local authorities who should be inspected, not the parents.

Inspection of families should not play a role.

The parents should be trusted to provide a tailored education for their own child. Parents know their children best. Please presume good intentions on the part of the parents. Any concerns would not be best addressed through inspection, but through a more supportive approach to home educators, and then through other channels. It would also be a better use of resources to allow families to opt-in for help, rather than for both parents and children to feel anxious and scrutinised in the face of inspections.

Parents do not feel anxious because they have something to hide; rather, because they care very much about their children’s education and are worried about being judged by someone who does not and cannot know their child as well as they do.

Inspection would be very difficult to put in place in practice. My concern would be that it would turn into a “one size fits all” or box-ticking exercise, which is precisely what the tailored education provided by elective home education is not.



I’m not aware of any improvements. It was before my time. Anecdotally it has become worse, with some local authorities not understanding the law and/or acting outside the law.



We have not personally suffered any specific negative impact associated with home educating.


The main impact to others has been to exams.



Please do not regulate family life. The children are not the future property of the state, but are individuals who form part of society and who deserve an emotionally supportive and tailored education, if their family is able to provide this through choosing elective home education. Please uphold family values and allow children’s education to happen within their close family ties and community friendships.

November 2020