HED0395

Written evidence submitted by The Otherwise Club

 

Elective Home Education (EHE) was an incredibly positive choice for our family. Both my children (now 31 and 37 years old) never went to school. They are both well employed, independent,and  'successful' (by any standard measure) members of society.  I have remained involved in Home Education founding and continuing to be part of The Otherwise Club, a community centre for Home Educators in central London almost 28 years old. During those years I have known 100s of home educated children and young people and never had cause to question the power of the option to home educate in England.

Last year Home educators responded to a call for evidence. The report from that call has not yet been published and still you  asking for another call for evidence. This is  repeatedly burdening  home educators.  Any 'fresh' enquiry should acquaint itself with the submissions of  previous consultations before it asks the same questions over and over.

To your specific questions:

1. The duties with regard to home education are suitable as they stand although most Local Authorities (LAs) have not had training in their duties and often overstep them.

Home educators are not unseen or hiding. They just do not go to school. The laws and best practice around safeguarding are there to ensure the safety of any home educated child as with any other child or young person in England and Wales. Educational choice is not a reason a safeguarding issue.

2.whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required;

Parents are responsible for their children's education in England and Wales not schools or the Local Authorities. It is therefore not legal for home educators to be monitored nor is there a  need to register with the LA. Mandatory registration is not the same as notification or LA discovery by lawful means. It implies asking permission from the LA.  This insinuates that the state has the primary responsibility  of  education, which violates ECHR protections of the parent in that primary role.  It would result in increased interference with Home Educators including placing potent barriers in the way of choosing Home Education as an valid option for famlies.

 

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

The benefits of home education cannot be spelt out strongly enough. Children are natural scientists , inquisitive and exploring constantly. They want to be part of the world. You do not have to 'teach' for them to learn. No one can say in this rapidly changing world what our young people need to know to be able to obtain a job in 10 years forward. We need confident, flexible and self knowledgeable young people, able to find their own way in the world. The way to develop these qualities is by listening to them and seeing them as integral to the learning process, not as empty vessels to be filled but as partners in the  life journey. We all learn together. Home Education is the ideal vehicle for this type of education. We do not question this style of education in the first 2 years of life when a person learns and changes the most  of any stage of life going from the helpless infant to a walking, talking person. Home education makes this style of learning central throughout life.

During the nearly 28 years of The Otherwise Club we have seen 100s of children grow into strong capable, knowledge creative adults who have found a way forward for themselves in a very changing world. Nothing could be more powerful than this to show the success of home education as a valid choice of education.

 

4.The quality and accessibility of support (including financial support) available for home educators and their children, including those with special educational needs, disabilities, mental health issues, or caring responsibilities, and those making the transition to further and higher education;

 

Home Educators are wary of any financial help from the state as this would invariably come with the strings which could seriously erode our freedom. Many Home Educators have been asking for many years (at least since 2008 with the Badman review) to have easy access to examinations but so far this has not been forthcoming

 

5.whether the current regulatory framework is sufficient to ensure that the wellbeing and academic achievement of home educated children is safeguarded, including where they may attend unregistered schools, have been formally excluded from school, or have been subject to ‘off-rolling’;

 

The well-being and academic achievements of a child or young person are part of, in fact central to, that project of home education and therefore are not  to be separated off.  The well-being and academic achievements of a child or young person are central to the responsibility of all education which is the responsibility of the parents.

The unregistered schools, exclusions and offrolling are  problems of the school system which the state already has remedies for. Home educators resent the state trying to make these problems of school  problems of Home Education.

 

6.the role that inspection should play in future regulation of home education;

Inspection has no basis in law as parents are responsible for their children's education not the state or the LA. There should be no role for inspection which assumes that the inspector knows better than the family.

 

7.what improvements have been made to support home educators since the 2010-15 Education Committee published their report on ‘Support for Home Education’ in 2012;

 

As far as I am aware nothing has changed since this report. There is very little LA support for example in offering Home Educators exam centres something that seems easy enough to do. It seems  the authorities are able to find endless time to question home educators with endless 'consultations' and 'calls for evidence' without listening to the answers, staying in prejudiced bubbles. But when we ask for valid support nothing is forth coming.

 

8.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.’

 

Covid 19 virus did have an impact on Home Educators in that all the educational social meet ups, classes, trips, visits which we constantly do, were not available to us.  As with schooled children most of our activities moved online. The negative impacts of having to stay physically away from other people are the same for every child, young person and their parents home educated or schooled. There were no specific negative impacts that pertain only to home educated children and young people.

 

November 2020