Written evidence submitted by Black


By way of introduction, I am a mother of 3 home educated children between the ages of 1 and 10, with close links to many other home educating families within the village I live in, as well as nationwide.


The benefits of elective Home Education


There are numerous tangible benefits to Elective Home Education.


In my experience, Home Education eliminates the negative effect that pulling young children away from their families has.  Having a strong family unit is the most important link for young children and Home Education preserves and reinforces this.  The children are not being pulled in the wrong direction to have other links taking precedence. 


Having seen the psychological and emotional damage school can do and the evidence of best learning, I can see where the school system fails people.


School takes away much more freedom than it needs to at the moment, making people who don't suit it feel less than they should.


Home Education gives me the chance to let my children fully be themselves and learn to socialise and integrate in fully inclusive ways, rather than the restrictive, age-defined groups that school puts children into.  Their learning is not hampered by disruptive influences, by being held back because of shyness about contributing, by being pigeon-holed into one way of learning, or by pressure to perform well between the hours of 8 and 3 or in isolated standardised tests.  Rather, their learning takes place without enforced behavioural boundaries or time constraints.


In a Home Ed environment, children can learn to deal with all facets of life, such as bullying, cooperation, autonomy and decision-making, in positive and proactive rather than reactive ways.  Based on the evidence I have seen within my own children and others within the Home Ed community, this proactive learning creates exceptionally well-adjusted, confident children who are amply equipped to deal with the world around them.

A common misconception about Home Education is that the children will face a lack of socialisation.  This has never been the case for me and my children.  There is a large, strong and exceptionally diverse community within Home Ed, made all the better for the fact that children of many different ages can come together to share their experiences.


Quality of support for Elective Home Education and transition to Higher Education
(Including Lack of improvements with Support from the previous report)

I don't believe there is much support for Home Educators. I was at first comfortable that there was a representative who could guide and support us, especially if we had any health difficulties, such as special needs becoming an issue or if we needed guidance for exams later on


However, given the experiences reported by peers, I realise that support has been replaced with measuring and attempts to make people a homogenous lump. There is an irony in creating standards to look good against, when and it turns out to be just an exercise in ruining things for all and sundry, i.e. Ofsted and the plans to police home ed.

These changes all seem to come from education representatives, not education experts. These representatives don't have relevant on-the-ground experience and most definitely don't understand how Home Education works.


No one seems to have asked the real experts or the children who can't fit into the rigid framework school, those who are off-rolled instead of supported.  When this happens within the school system, it shows these children that the system and the measuring of it is considered more important than they are.

I am fine with the fact that I won't get support, as this route of private education was my choice. But it should therefore be my responsibility, not beholden to someone else's idea of what education should be.  I can cope with a lack of support much better than schools can, as we are lucky enough to have a suitable income and control of our educational outgoings, while schools are struggling and having to fundraise and cut down on essentials. I couldn't afford to send my children to school and pay out for all the uniform and events that seem never-ending.

Whilst the education system is not fit for everybody and not fit for purpose, there is no way that the same people regulating it can suitably arrange support for those in the very different environment of Home Ed.


A note on COVID

This year has obviously had a negative impact on most every human and we are suffering from a loss of our normality, but I would suggest that schooled children are at a much bigger disadvantage than Home Educated ones. 


The most obvious way in which schooled children have been affected is in their social interactions with their friends.  Most home-schooled children that I know have been able to maintain their relationships with others because the smaller scale of Home Ed settings has allowed for full control in terms of making a space Covid Safe, whereas schools remain Covid transmission hotspots, despite their best efforts.


While schools have been shut, the frequency and regularity, let alone the quality, of teaching has plummeted.  I have heard friends talk about how their GCSE-aged children have been severely let down by teachers who took 12 weeks to organise and commence their online lessons. 

There has been no such break in Home Education.  My children have been able to continue their learning in the same way as they did pre-lockdown.  

Safe-guarding, quality, a register, inspection.

I don't have a problem with a register of Home Educated children.  We do, after all, have to register births and there is a system to register for schools, with a system to have a safe-guarding visit following a child’s birth.


But these safe-guarding visits don't continue into school, so there is no precedent for introducing them into a Home Ed environment.  Safe-guarding of children in a Home Ed community is noted by people the children know and hopefully trust; people like shop keepers, librarians, tutors and other educators in a Home Ed child's life.


Schooled children don't have people coming into their homes, their safe space, regularly, so why should Home Ed children?  The sanctity of that space is important to me, as the majority of children relax and feel safe at home, so strangers visiting isn't always welcomed and can be very harmful to children, especially those with special needs.


Inspections infer that there are specific standards to be reached at specific times and penalties for missing targets.  That would completely negate the individuality of Home Education and feed into the society we are creating where people can't be trusted and can't trust each other.  But the majority of people are honest, law-abiding and trustworthy and society should reflect that.  There must be a better way to pinpoint when help is needed than inspections and testing.


November 2020