Written evidence submitted by Matthew Cailes




I am writing as a parent who has been home educating my children since August 2007. My eldest daughter is currently 11, and my youngest daughter is 10. They were 8 and 7 respectively when we began home education, having just completed school years 2 and 3.


It is the opinion of my wife and myself that home is the safest place for our children, and that as their parents, we are their strongest and most passionate protectors and advocates. We believe that within the context of Elective Home Education, children naturally develop valuable understanding relating to teamwork and management skills which form the basis on which academic instruction can be most effectively received. As well as academic education, many life skills are successfully taught within the home, especially due to the more favourable ratio of pupils to teachers. This ratio also enables me, as the home educating parent, to perceive and respond accurately to the individual strengths and weaknesses of my children, so better academic outcomes are achieved due to swift and focussed responses to educational opportunities and challenges. My wife is also involved when she is not at work.


We have been home educating with no problems, and believe that the Education Select Committee should continue to trust parents to care for their own children. There are many instances of the failings of state-provided intervention whereas Elective Home Education is predominantly successful for achievement of social and academic skills. For this reason we do not believe that the implementation of a statutory register would be a good use of the limited resources of the state. It is clear that a register is not a proven method to improve child welfare, as has been seen in many tragic circumstances of failure of the social services.


With regards to the quality and accessibility of support available for home educating families, we believe that families who choose to home-educate (ours included) have already demonstrated their dedication to the welfare of their families by sacrificing the earnings of at least one parent. However, financial recognition from central government of such sacrifices would certainly be welcome.


Personally speaking, the primary expectation of our family from a regulatory framework is to continue to permit families who choose to home educate to cherish their children as described (education ‘otherwise’) by the 1944 Education Act. Elective Home Education is one of the ways in which we may express our dignity as mature citizens to contribute to the wellbeing and development of the society in which we live. It is vitally important that Elective Home Education is not confused with illegal practices or instances where children have been failed by the state education system.


As a home educating family we do not welcome intervention and inspection from the state. We believe that we have the best understanding of our own children, in part because they are our own flesh and blood. In our opinion, the state ought not to stray into areas of personal expression and religious conscience by attempting to regulate the home.


Regarding COVID-19, unlike state educated children, our children’s education has not been interrupted because we are all within the same household. This has demonstrated that family institutions are more robust in the face of disruption compared to state institutions. Our lives have obviously been impacted by the pandemic, but our children’s education has continued as normal.


November 2020