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.]


I’m a mother of [number] and home educated all of my children from birth. They are now adults in their [age range], and as home education (HE) was very beneficial to us, I wish to protect the freedom that it brings to families in England. Please find my comments on your various points below.


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


We have experienced many benefits from HE, as we were able to tailor education to each child. This didn’t look as it would in school; our eldest child was very structured in his approach, the second needed to have more freedom to express herself creatively and the third was incredibly bright yet refused to write, so needed a different approach again.


Our oldest boy had [personal information]. I was unaware of my rights at that point and was trying to oblige by agreeing to a visit, and was completely unprepared for the patronising attitude that came across. Our boy was [personal information]. In the interim he had taken and [personal information]. I believe we protected and developed this through HE, and it is every bit as important to me as his academic achievements.


Our second child had the freedom to learn about photography and videography at home, spending hours on [personal information].


Child three may [personal information].


Each child has had a tailor-made education, and so it has given them a huge advantage as I hope you can see by the examples I’ve given. Unfortunately the only contact we’ve had with our local authority was negative and made me feel like a small child being ticked off. The laws are already in place for LAs to work with parents, but some councils are already overstepping which is leaving parents afraid and intimidated. If we could have a standardised approach instead of a postcode lottery it would be so much better, and would make it much easier to work with authorities.


2. The role that inspection should play in future regulation of home education


This concerns me, as we did have (as mentioned previously) a poor experience when we were inspected. To start with, knowing that you are going to be inspected wreaks havoc with any educational plans you may have had, as you are on tenterhooks expecting to be judged. It does make you feel that you have committed a crime, or that the inspector is looking for one, whereas the reverse is most often the case.


I feel there is very little value in an inspection, as HE methods are so varied, and an inspector is often looking through the same lens they would use in a school setting. This does not and should not be the case, but unless an inspector has a thorough understanding of home education – not home school which is quite different – he or she will not grasp what is actually being achieved. For example, when my younger son wasn’t writing he was often playing games with me or running outside. The importance of spatial awareness developed by outdoor play has been recognised in several studies, as has the importance of play, but to the untrained eye it might appear that a child wasn’t learning. Instead there should be a respect for the parental role in educating their child and more in the way of support offered.


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


The Education Committee’s 2012 report “Support for Home Education” is referred by your documentation. It states in Section 2, relating to “Relationships between home educators and local authorities.”

10. The role of the local authority is clear with regard to home education. They have two duties: to provide support for home educating families (at a level decided by local authorities themselves), and if families wish it; and to intervene with families if the local authority is given reason to believe that a child is not receiving a suitable education. It is not the role of the local authority routinely to monitor whether a suitable education is being provided, and local authorities should not act as if it is, or cause parents to believe that it is.”


Accordingly, authorities should not act as monitors, as elective home education is usually unique to each family. This is the beauty of it. From my experience of talking to other home educators, safeguarding is usually far from a problem. Rather, children are far too often withdrawn from schools because of the bullying issues that should be tackled within them, and are being protected from harm by their parents. Part of my motivation, particularly with [personal information]. This is by far the predominant attitude amongst the home educators we know, whereas the numbers affected by bullying and harm within schools are rife. If safeguarding is an issue, please don’t waste resources on home educators who are doing their utmost to care properly for their children. Instead protect those children in schools who are in real danger.


4. Whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required


I am very concerned that should a register be established, there will be an erosion of the freedom that parents currently have. At present there is the liberty to choose how to educate your child, whether it be by following your own child’s interests, or by allowing them to concentrate on what they have a passion for. Without this, my daughter [personal information]. Children cannot be categorised or standardised; they are unique individuals who have a right to a personalised education. Parents equally have a right to be able to provide this. A register suggests the first step is being taken to impose certain restrictions and controls, and is a real concern. Local authorities already have powers to deal with unregistered schools, which I suspect are the real target, so why not use those powers rather than penalising law-abiding citizens who are doing the best for their children, and in fact for society as a whole?


December 2020