Written evidence submitted by a 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.]

Submission to the Education Committee ‘Call For Evidence’ on Home Education.


Background; I am a home educating parent of 2 children. [personal information] our family is grateful for the current laws in the UK that ensure that parents, not state, are responsible for their children’s education. Had we been forced to follow a ‘one size fits all’ curriculm, or been required to accept outside interference in the form of monitoring, testing, or even home visits, rather than being able to use our childrens individual needs and abilities to tailor their education, it is highly unlikely that our children would be as successful as they are.

Our eldest entered school for the first time at age [age], having requested to attend a specific school that offered some unique courses. [personal information]. Our experience of home education, including the knowledge of our child’s methods of learning and ways of thinking, also enabled myself to assist when the school seemed unable or unwilling to provide eldest with the specific teaching needed on essay writing in English due to time constraints/demands of the curriculum.

[personal information]. Home education has allowed us to provide our youngest with a low-demand environment, with lots of breaks between required tasks and plenty of informal learning, allowing youngest to flourish as a happy, bright child with an interest in STEM subjects.


The duties of local authorities with regards to home education, including safeguarding and assuring the quality of home education;   The LA’s DO NOT have a statutory duty to safeguard and oversee the education of home educated children. This is a PARENTAL duty. The LA’s DO have a duty to investigate if they have good reason to believe the parents are not carrying this out. In the same way that the police have a duty to act on a reported crime, but don’t have a duty to regularly search every home for criminal activity on the off-chance, LA’s should investigate any reports of safeguarding or education concerns, but should not regularly check on everyone ‘just in case’. This should not change.

whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required; There is no benefit to this. A list of names would only be useful for bean-counters. LA’s are able to carry out their statutory duties without it, families on it would derive no benefit (and may even incur penalties, if the LA concerned is particularly ignorant on the law, or if it comes with a registration fee – making it a licence, rather than a register)

the benefits children gain from home education, and the potential disadvantages they may face; Advantages; children can learn according to their individual age, abilities and needs as the law requires. A tailored learning experience that enables the child to take control of their own learning; to learn at their own pace to their own schedule, explore subjects that interest them that may not be taught in schools (one of my children studied the Hawaiian language for a short time), learn alongside the people who know them best 1 to 1 in a familiar, comfortable environment, foster a love of learning that lasts a lifetime by treating it as something all humans do rather than something that is done to children by adults, the ability to seek out and use our own resources from a wide variety of places, etc etc.

Disadvantages; having to deal with other people’s ignorance about home education, which can lead to home educating families being insulted and outright discriminated against. This has been particularly problematic over the last few years as a concerted campaign to vilify home educators as lazy child abusers seems to have been initiated in the media. LA’s appointing staff, such as ex-teachers or school inspectors, to deal with home educators when they have no understanding of either home education in practice or the actual law regarding it, or are occasionally actively hostile towards home education, is also a huge problem. This attitude of others is the greatest negative impact on our children.

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; There is none. All educational costs come out of the parental pocket. A few friendly LA’s have tried to use their meagre budgets to provide financial assistance for some exams or to set up forums, but they don’t have dedicated home ed budgets.

In terms of SEN and mental health, home educated children are more often provided with less support, sometimes because the support offered is designed specifically for schools rather than families or because the services are tied to school budgets or schools themselves [personal information]. Home educators need to be on the ball re. vaccinations of school-age children, and other such things that are usually done within schools as there are no reminders/info on changes to things like vaccination schedules sent to families.  In my experience, home ed parents are often more aware of such things than school families as we make it our business to know – I recall being shocked that a parent who had recently removed their teenager from school had not heard of the changes to the whole GCSE curriculum that had just been introduced (though their child was aware). Many SEN children are home educated because there is a lack of support within schools and families find they can deal better with the issues at home even without support. Sometimes, ‘support’ is actively restrictive, such as families with an EHCP for their home ed child having to fit their methods of learning to the need for record-keeping/proof of progress rather than fitting them to the actual learning needs of the child, in order to continue receiving help in other areas, such as respite/therapy or financial help for necessary learning aids. While families would welcome things like financial aid for exams, proper support for mental health and SEN, etc, it would only be truly welcome it were available for every family in the UK, schooled or home ed, as the real issue isn’t ‘lack of support for home ed’ it is ‘underfunding of services and lack of consideration for home education when drawing up legislation, policy and guidelines that affect families’ that is the real problem. We don’t want more support, just access to the same services that are already available for others with schooled children. [personal information].

Targeted ‘support’ at specific communities often comes with too many conditions created by people with little understanding of the ‘on the ground’ situation, and that can interfere with what is actually best for the children and families ie. offering financial support for certain exams deemed ‘important’ by others, but not for others that may actually be of more use to the child concerned. It can also create discriminatory and social divides that did not previously exist. For instance, the idea that all families who have chosen to join a particular community require monitoring, while all other families do not, is a strong case in point.

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’; Of course it is sufficient. There have never been any cases of harm etc happening to a home educated child who was not already known to the appropriate services. Where it does occur, it is a failing in the service not in the regulatory framework. The current law puts responsibility for both education and welfare on the parent and provides the flexibility for families to fulfill the legal requirement for a suitable education according to age, needs and abilities easily, while also providing a safety net for intervention should it be flagged as necessary. It is finely balanced, well-proven over many years and works well when followed properly. Any change to the law would remove parental responsibilities, reduce flexibility to the detriment of the child’s education and give authorities unprecedented power over ordinary families.

Unregistered schools, school exclusions and off-rolling have nothing to do with home education and everything to do with schools. If schools are breaking the law, I respectfully suggest you use the correct regulatory framework to prosecute them.

the role that inspection should play in future regulation of home education; No role at all, beyond that of investigating whether specific reports of a child being denied an education is true or not – preferably by someone who understands the law and practicalities of home education. Schools are inspected on behalf of the parents who use them and the government that funds them. The government does not fund home education and parents do not need to be inspected on behalf of themselves!

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; None. In fact, there are anecdotal reports that it made some LA’s more likely to interfere than support as it suggested they had more legal powers over home ed families than is actually the case. The level of support provided by individual LA’s is often down to how knowledgable of home ed the current incumbent of the local LA’s education officer position is and if they have been actually allocated any money at all. Most home ed families prefer to find help and support in the wider home ed community, as that is where the real knowledge of resources, groups, ways of doing things etc lies. The one area where support has been slowly increasing is in college 14-16 provision, as more colleges finally realise that they are actually allowed to provide it, though it is unlikely this was a result of the report as it had started to improve before this. However, often they still fail to fully recognize the needs and differences of home ed children, who are a hugely diverse population who generally need courses run along ‘adult education’ lines than ‘school class’ ones.

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.’ A lot less than on schoolkids. Our life carried on as normal but with fewer trips out and less social opportunities. Education was not really interrupted, bar the closing of museums etc we use as a matter of course in our learning. Being very used to being flexible, creative and responding quickly to changes in need, home ed families had very few problems coping, particularly as new online resources rapidly became available once all children were learning from home. Our elder child, now schooled, slipped easily back into home ed mode and was self-motivated to complete schoolwork assigned as part of that, returning to school in the summer with no deficit. Only the timing of some of the schoolwork – initially designed around a school timetable rather than the realities of studying from home – caused an issue. Our youngest, home ed child barely noticed the change beyond some planned trips being cancelled. Socially and physically, the impact on home ed was the same as schooled children, in that our children couldn’t see their friends and had their ability to exercise restricted until lockdown was eased. The biggest negative impact on home ed came after lockdown, when there has been quite a bit of confusion over what the government views as ‘education’ versus what home educators think it is, leaving a very grey area around which groups, activities, etc can continue as normal in the home ed community and which can’t, particularly informal groups where friends learn together rather than organized, open-to-all ones, where measures designed for implementation in  schools etc are really not appropriate but appear to be legally required. This is a COVID-19 legislation failing, caused by not including home ed in the government discussions, not a home education issue.


November 2020