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.]

My name is [member of the public]. Between us, my wife and I educated our three children at home from [dates] until they had taken their GCSEs. I am concerned that the opportunity to home educate free from state interference may not be available to the next generation, which is why I have made this submission.



Home education is a precious freedom and a valuable option for parents who wish to discharge their God-given duty to educate their children without delegating it to the state (it also saves the state a lot of money and resources!).

My wife and I decided before we had children that we would educate them at home; we knew two families who were doing this, we asked a lot of questions, and saw how beautifully well-rounded, bright and interesting the children were, and gradually saw the older ones turn into lovely young adults.

So we educated them at home until they had done their GCSEs, and then each in turn chose to go to school at 16 to do A-levels. My eldest went to [institution] and got a [qualification], my second studied [subject] at [institution], and my youngest is in his second year at [institution] studying [subject]. If education were measured solely in terms of academic attainment, then there is no doubt that children can flourish, as our experience proves. Not that we were alone in that; in the home educating community/network of which we were a part, my daughter was one of 5 from her age group of about thirty children who went to either [institution].

You don’t need to be a trained teacher or even have a degree to educate your children; my wife did the early years then after [personal information] I took over in [year] until my son went to school in [date], and I was only educated to A-level. But as long as you are curious about the world, love books, share ideas with other parents, and apply yourself, you can do a good job. My wife and I are not exceptional people – but you don’t need to be.

Home education is easier than it was 20 or 30 years ago with the advent of the internet, and even high street shops like WH Smith have learning resources for primary aged children for spelling, grammar and maths (and much else). It is possible to do the job on a very slender budget. There are also support groups to share ideas and resources and to meet other families. My children met others of different ages and made good friends through home education. (Actually, ‘home’ education is a misnomer; gym, swimming lessons and sports sessions took us out of the house a couple of times a week, and then there were museum visits, afternoons at the allotment, trips to the park etc.)

One of the great advantages of home education is that you can tailor it to the needs, interests and abilities of each child. My son showed no interest in music, art or drawing whereas my daughters did; I accommodated and encouraged them but did not force him. However he was [personal information].

Why many parents fear state interference is that this flexibility could be under pressure from well-meaning (or zealous) educationalists who like averages and targets. My son [personal information]; but I can imagine some well-meaning person aghast at him being behind some notional average reading age and pressuring me for a plan with targets to be met and tick boxes to be filled in by the next visit. That to me is anathema and detrimental to the whole spirit and intent of home education. Education is a big task and to add the extra burden of bureaucracy with forms and plans and reports is to chew up time a parent could be spending with the children with nothing to show for it except a paper-trail to prove that a few hoops have been jumped through.

The parent is in charge, knows his own child, and that should not be interfered with: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

So far I have only mentioned the academic success of home education. But there are additional benefits. By spending so much time with your children you can establish a strong bond with them, and get to understand them better. They also to learn to relate to children both older and younger than them when meeting with other home-educating families for gym lessons and swimming lessons. And they learn to relate to a variety of adults in the course of a week, principally the parents of other home-educated children. In short, children have a lot of social interactions in a variety of non-institutional settings, and all completely safe with the parent always on hand or nearby. In that respect, home educated children are a lot safer than school children, who can be at risk travelling to and from school, and at school itself subject to bullying and peer pressure. In fact, I met some parents who took their children out of school for this very reason.

Are there disadvantages? Yes, of course. Team sports are very difficult, even within a network of other home educators because of geographic distance, varying ages and interests. In the end I found two clubs for football and cricket, so these happened for my son in the evening and at weekends rather than in core Monday to Friday time. (Other sports and exercise did happen during the day, including gymnastics, swimming and, briefly, fencing, and informal times at the park.)

I see no problem for a voluntary register of home-educated children, but definitely not a compulsory one. Parents with disabled children, or those with special educational needs, might welcome some input from the local authority. But parents who choose home education are highly motivated and have the best interests of their children at heart, and that should be respected by non-interference from the state.

The Graham Badman report into home education in 2009 conflated the issue of child abuse and home education unfairly and needlessly (and possibly deliberately) – 99.9% of abused children attend school or are otherwise already known to the authorities for one reason or another, and sometimes they failed to act on what they knew. There has not been one proven case of a home-educated child being abused. The idea that parents who sacrifice and invest so much time and effort to educate their children should fall under suspicion is abhorrent. Innocent until proven guilty should be the watchword of every civilised society.

I know that there are some very controlling types in government these days who would love to get their hands on home education, but I would remind them parents have a legal and moral right to be first educators of their children. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 26 says, “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” And the European Convention on Human Rights, protocol 1, article 2 says, “In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching are in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.”

Any attempt by the Government to come between parent and child is a serious matter, and since the outcomes of home education are so good, there is no reason to do so.


[member of the public]  4/11/20

November 2020