Written evidence submitted by Mrs Fiona Taylor


My name is Fiona Taylor.  I am mother to a five-year-old boy and have been home educating him since January this year.  We decided not to send him to school for his education because, as a former Primary School Teacher, I knew the limitations of a school-based education, and wanted my child to have a broader and more personalised experience of learning.


My submission to the Committee is in regards to the advantages of home education:


As a home educating parent, I am able to offer my child a personalised education, based on his individual needs and abilities, in a way that no school could ever do. 


“Childhood is not meant to be merely preparation for adulthood.  It’s a time to be cherished, protected and preserved.  Our kids will have many opportunities for career, discipline and hard work.  But they only get one childhood.” Ainsley Arment, “The Call of the Wild and Free” ch 1, p7


The priority in childhood should be play.  Children need lots of time for unstructured play in order to make sense of the world.  This helps them with academic learning later on in life, and helps them process events and experiences in a healthy way.  School is not designed to give children the time for play which they need.  The younger the child, the more important it is; the more time should be spent playing.  The school system forces the children into formal learning much too soon and they miss out on play, particularly from Year 1 onwards.  While at home, my son has lots of time for unstructured play, indoors and outdoors, every day, and will have as much time for this as he needs, throughout his whole time being home educated.


He has taught himself to read, as a result simply of being read to and through his own curiosity about words he sees on the page and in the environment.  At school, he would be learning phonics in a very structured way and would be bringing home reading scheme books with few or no words.  I believe this would have the potential to discourage his love of books and reading and I am glad I have been able to avoid that by educating him at home.


Home education gives the individual child the opportunity to learn at their own pace, in a way suited to their individual learning style and unique personality.  It also offers plenty of time to explore topics of particular interest to the child and to find out what sparks a passion or what they are truly gifted in.  In England, the state school system does not currently offer any of this.


My son has been very interested in the solar system and outer space recently, and we have borrowed many books from the library, watched youtube videos, made up stories and played and played and played.  As a result of this deep dive into the subject, over a period of a couple of months, he has developed a very good understanding of the different planets, moons and other space objects, and their relation to each other and to Earth, in terms of size, distance, atmosphere, temperature etc.  He knows about black holes and exoplanets as well as different types of stars and galaxies.  This child-led learning is an absolute joy to watch. 


Home education offers the opportunity for this kind of immersion in a topic of interest to the child.  And because it is initiated by the child, he or she will enjoy the process of learning, and this, in turn, will give him or her a positive attitude to future learning experiences. 


The state education system is curriculum-led and target-driven.  Children within the system are given no choice about what topics to learn about and they are pushed to achieve certain academic standards by specified ages.  Those who do not meet “age-related expectations” (a phrase I recently heard a teacher use) are seen as ‘failing’ and given more ‘support’ to get them up to ‘standard’ which usually means less time for the child to play or to do the parts of the curriculum they enjoy more or are better at.  In many cases, the children who are deemed to be failing within the system are simply not yet developmentally ready for the academic tasks they are being expected to do.


I want my child to enjoy learning.  It is well documented that learning happens best when the learner is happy and relaxed.  Home provides the ideal context for this to take place.  In school, there is far too much emphasis on academic standards to allow for an individual child to enjoy their learning.  The pressure brought by Year 1 phonics testing, Years 2 and 6 SATs as well as other targets the teacher is given for her class vastly inhibit the opportunities for learning in an enjoyable way.  I have taught in a school where the emphasis throughout the school was on teaching to the test, in order to ensure the school gets a good Ofsted rating and is well-placed on the league table. The learning which takes place under these conditions is rarely enjoyable.


What society needs are individuals who are well-balanced, creative thinkers who can find innovative solutions to the problems we face as a nation and as a world. 

At home, children can learn in a way which gives them the confidence and creativity to choose their own path in the world and navigate obstacles and change direction.  Today’s school leavers have been taught in a way which often extinguishes their creativity and pushes them down a route marked out for them by the system, which then leaves them utterly adrift and bewildered if that path ends up not working out for them.  School is not an environment which fosters innovation or problem solving and society is the poorer for it.


In conclusion, Elective Home Education is the ideal education method to ensure a child learns in a way which suits their temperament, personality, interests and developmental stage.  If a parent has the means and the desire to offer this type of personalised education to their child, then the benefits to the child are immense and long-lasting.



November 2020