Written evidence submitted by Dr Rachel Brown (Senior Clinical Psychologist at Second Step)

  1. Introduction

We have two children aged 5 and 3 who have never attended school or a traditional pre-school setting. As parents, we both have a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. One of us works in a Mental Health organisation leading on the implementation of Psychological, Adversity and Trauma Informed Approaches. The other works in a NHS mental health team specifically for children with learning disabilities. Given our current assessment of the government funded education system, we do not feel that schools are offered the mandate, vision, resources or support to develop psychologically informed environments. Without this foundation children cannot learn freely, thrive or grow into resourceful, imaginative and innovative adults. Therefore we have chosen to home educate in order to be able to create AND advocate for the type of emotionally aware environment we feel is an essential component of education and child development.


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

One of the benefits we feel our children gain from Home Education is the opportunity to learn at their own pace, within a shame free and emotionally attuned environment. When children feel unsafe or unsettled their capacity to learn is greatly diminished. Feeling unsafe and shamed is a likely outcome of attending school because of the current rigid view of age dependent learning pathways, assessment and underpinning attribution of value being equal to academic achievement. For example, Home Education also provides our children with the opportunity to learn to read in their own time rather than at the arbitrary age of five, meaning that they are more likely to have healthy relationship with reading as evidenced by Cambridge University (https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/discussion/school-starting-age-the-evidence)


Further benefits we see currently of Home Education is that we can follow a self-directed learning journey that is responsive to the unique gifts of each child allowing for joy and learning to be interlinked. Within this Home Education framework our children also have the time and opportunity for regular and rich cross generational social contact with family and neighbours that enhances their sense of connection and belonging beyond their own age group.


In addition, we see the strength of Home Education within our ability to choose how we manage conflict and power within the learning environment. By modelling to our children a respectful and consent based approach to education we are equipping them with the tools to be able to speak out about their needs, perspectives, and concerns. As Psychologists we view these processes as being core to an internal sense of worthiness and safety, which are critical elements of sustainable wellbeing and therefore education.

At this stage home educated children are discriminated against by way of resources and access to field trips. Schools take pupils on a field trip at a cost to the government and we suggest home educating families should be resourced to provide the same quality experiences for their children.


  1. 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.

    Home educated families should have had the clear directive to gather in groups at the same moment children were able to attend school. Whilst most children in the UK were able to access their social circles, home educated children were not. Considering the thousands of home educators in this country it would have been helpful and healthy to have had the clear go ahead under the same protocols as schools.


Education is a public good that can come in all forms. My children, along with thousands of others, are flourishing through learning at home.

We would like more funding and more recognition in policy decisions such as Covid19 rulings.


November 2020