Written evidence submitted by Mrs Rachel Hall


I am a mother of three and have EHE for 3 years. This is when my oldest child would have started school. I thoroughly enjoy making sure that my children have a rich, diverse and fulfilling education and feel very thankful that we are in the position where I have the right to choose how to meet my childrens educational needs. I am confident in my abilities and that I am best placed to ensure my children have an efficient full-time education because I know them best. The way that I have seen my children, especially my eldest, flourish and thrive in the EHE setting convinces me that this is the best option for my children. I acknowledge that there are many teachers who are doing an outstanding job educating on behalf of parents yet at this time I believe that I can provide a better, more individualised, educational experience for my children.


With reference to the duties of local authorities with regards to home education, including safeguarding and assuring the quality of home education I believe that the current approach strikes an appropriate balance between family privacy and child protection. Local authorities already have powers to intervene if there is cause for concern. I think it is important that there is a distinction made between the quality of education provided and the welfare of a child. The two are exclusive from each other. There is a slight sense that when a parent acts in conformity with expected norms they do not require investigation, but any divergence from the norm, no matter that it is a legal divergence, will require investigation. I believe that the vulnerable in our society need to be protected and kept safe and I would hope that local authorities time and resources would be deployed here rather than investigating me and my family because we are choosing a different mode of education. I think that if local authorities begin to impose a set standard for a safe and suitable education to be provided for every EHE child then this would have to be the standard supplied to every school child in the country. If any LA failed to ensure such an education for just one child, then it would be impossible to justly impose that standard upon HE families.


I feel very strongly that a statutory register for home educated children is not required and that it will serve to impinge on my educational freedom as a parent. I believe that registration would be the beginning of more state control and that this would slowly chip away at the varied and individualised learning that I currently facilitate for my children. There is no evidence that mandatory registration would be effective if it is to be used to safeguard children. It is unlikely that families who may be a cause for concern would make themselves known or register. Because the law states that it is the parental responsibility to ensure an efficient education for their children I dont see why they should have to register with the state to do this. It would place undue pressure on already overloaded and strained local authorities. My family and I are certainly not hidden. We are registered with the doctor and dentist as well as extra curricular clubs that both schooled and home educated children attend. We are often out and about during the day and so are perhaps more visible than a child who attends school. There is a stigma attached to home education and I believe that this would serve to heighten the feeling of fear and mistrust around those that are simply choosing another way to educate their children. I would be interested in developing positive and open communication with local authorities and those in positions where they work with home educating families. I believe wholly that society thrives when diversity is encouraged and celebrated. Open conversations and learning about different ways of doing things are much more powerful than requiring people to register to educate their own children.


I have already mentioned briefly the benefits of home education. I love being with my children, creating an environment where they feel happy and safe, tailoring the learning to their individual needs and interests and so seeing them thrive and throughly enjoy their education. My children are so keen to learn and even though they are still so young I can see an independence growing and an awareness that they can go after what they want. A real love of learning is being nurtured. We are part of a wonderful community which has a huge variety of skills and talents. These are shared through the setting up of groups and learning communities and this not only provides spaces for our children to socialise but a place for them to tap into a variety of learning experiences.


I think that EHE is too often confused or grouped with unregistered or illegal schools, with exclusion and off-rolling. Elective home education does not include children who have been abandoned by schools either by off-rolling, exclusion or by being moved into Alternative Provision though many children benefit from an atmosphere which is nearer to true HE provided by some AP settings. Neither does EHE include children who have been deregistered by parents to enable them to spend significant amounts of time in illegal, unregistered schools. Placing all of these under the handy catch-all title home education needs to stop as it serves to build on the negative impression held by many about elective home educators. I am concerned that home education gets wrongly associated with child abuse. Child abuse is a separate issue that local authorities already have wide powers to deal with. Research shows that home educated children are much less likely to need state intervention than children educated in schools:


Home educated children were found to be disproportionately scrutinised, being approximately twice as likely to be referred to Social Services as were children aged 0-4 years and children aged 5-16 who attend school. Despite that double referral rate, . Referrals to Social Services were found to be 3.5 5 times less likely to lead to a Child Protection Plan with home educated children than with referrals of schooled children aged 5-16 and 5 7 times less likely to lead to a Child Protection Plan than referrals for children aged 0-4 yearsRates of home educated children subject to a Child Protection Plan . were also found to be less than teaching staff guilty of abuse offences. (Charles-Warner, 2015).


I wonder how many children who really needed the support and intervention of the state were missed while unnecessary referrals where being followed up? There is no evidence of a problem with the current regulatory framework.


The final point I would like to address is the role inspection should play in future regulation of home education. When I try and picture what this would look like I think it is completely unfeasible. The beauty of home education is how diverse and tailored it is to the needs of the individual child. I dont see how you could possibly apply a blanket, formulaic inspection on the home educated child. One home education can be very different to another and this is a great strength yet would make inspection impractical. There is no evidence that inspection is necessary, and there is no mandate for it. Councils already have powers to address inadequate home education. Inspection would lead to intrusion in family life and moves towards a level of state interference that I am not comfortable with.


I am just an ordinary, caring, parent who wants the best for my children. I believe that elective home education plays a part in providing this for them. I believe that diverse societies are thriving societies and am keen to challenge the misconception that many hold about home education and share the bright and beautiful life it allows us to live.


November 2020