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.]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            [member of the public]


4th November 2020


                     The duties of local authorities with regards to home education, including safeguarding and assuring the quality of home education;

The duty to assure the quality of home education is the remit of the home educating parent. As stated in the Education Act (section 437) the local authority should take action only if the education provided appears to be unsuitable. Safeguarding duties are not affected by the decision of parents to home educate their children. Home educated children are not in an inherently more vulnerable position than children receiving other forms of education, in spite of what some local authorities claim: [Local Authority] use Children and Young People’s Strategy (2019-2022) states the following: “Vulnerable children and young people include looked after children and care leavers, children on a child protection plan, young carers, children and young people being supervised by the youth offending service, children and young people being home educated and children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities .” (Emphasis added). As set out in the Children’s Act (section 47) the local authority should get involved if it has "reasonable cause to suspect that a child who lives, or is found, in their area is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm"


                     whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required;

As children being home educated are neither criminals nor a professional body needing government oversight (such as medical professionals) it does not seem relevant to form such a register. It is neither required nor appropriate to do so.


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

As with any form of education the main benefit is that children learn new skills and progress towards their goals. For families who relocate frequently


                     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;

The support for home educators and their children should be the same as for all other families. As such it may be sensible to cover the cost of public examinations, as home educators pay taxes and their children should have equal opportunity. This was recommended in the “Support for Home Education” report in 2012 and has not happened. 

The definition of “support” is perhaps something to look into, as reports from [Local Authority] use the term to talk about home educated children who have been “supported [...] back into school full time” - Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee Review of: Elective Home Education in [Local Authority] use (April 2020).


                     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’;

The regulatory framework as set out in the Education Act (section 437) "If it appears to a local authority that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, they shall serve a notice in writing on the parent requiring him to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is receiving such education" seems sufficient.

              Unregistered schools, exclusions and “off-rolling” are issues to take up with the establishments providing education in unregistered schools or refusing education to children. They should not be included in a discussion of Elective Home Education, which is the topic at hand.


                     the role that inspection should play in future regulation of home education;

None. School inspections serve the purpose of ensuring that taxpayers money is well spent. As home education is not funded by taxes, they are not relevant.


                     what improvements have been made to support home educators since the 2010-15 Education Committee published their report on ‘Support for Home Education’ in 2012; and

They seem to be few and far between, the exam funding issue has been stated above.               The “postcode lottery” is alive and well as we experience personally here in [location]. While we have cooperated and sent in a report, provided additional information where asked, we have been told by the local authority that “any person could make a claim that they are providing suitable education by stating this [the report], it does not prove that what is stated is actually taking place, however.” The local authority have also implied they are entitled to photographic evidence and samples of the child’s work, which is not the case. The lack of professionalism (poor email etiquette, excessively long response times - often over a week) has been very frustrating. At the time of writing we are still awaiting confirmation that the local authority is satisfied of a suitable education (or indeed any response at all) after sending our latest communication over a month ago.  We have felt bullied by the local authority, who do not seem to accept that education is first and foremost the duty of parents.


                     the impact COVID-19 has had on home educated children, and what additional measures might need to be taken in order to mitigate any negative impacts.’

As far as I’m aware, home educated children are neither more or less susceptible to Covid-19 than the general population – as stated above, this is not a vulnerable group. One must therefore assume that whatever measures taken by the government to mitigate the negative impacts of the virus are equally applicable to them.


December 2020