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.]

The law states, and I believe, that parents are primarily responsible for their children’s education, not the state. It is very important that parents retain the right to educate their children in the way and in the place they consider best for their children which includes at home. State control is a danger to a free democratic society.

I have been personally involved with the home education of a grandchild who was removed from school because the school was not able to meet the child’s educational needs. [personal information]. A period of home education of more than one year enabled a degree of healing and subsequent successful reintroduction into another school. It would have been disastrous for this child if home education had not been possible at that point in time.

As a community paediatrician I was often involved in helping children who, for a variety of reasons, were not able to function in school. This was in some cases due to children’s physical problems; more often due to mental health issues which were sometimes provoked by bullying in schools. In my opinion there is far too little provision for children with special educational needs, especially children with anxiety who are intellectually able. In general secondary schools are far too big and because of their size are unable (in spite of tremendous efforts by many staff) to provide the nurturing environment that many children need.

Some parents home school because they consider that the values and worldview taught in some schools are inconsistent with their family values. It is important that this freedom is retained and without state interference.

The issue of safeguarding must be considered, but the local authority is already able to intervene when they see evidence of problems. Studies have shown that home educated children are less likely to be subject to a child protection plan than children in school. Children are also less likely to be subject to sexual harassment by peers (a growing issue).

Home education can be tailored to the needs of a child or a small number of children. This allows work to be more appropriate for those children who work faster or need stretching and also means that the pace can be slower when children are struggling with difficult concepts. Home education also allows greater diversity and approaches to education.

Financial support for home education is notably lacking. I believe that at least public exam fees should be covered. In the case of my grandchild, we were able to enrich the educational experience with extra lessons in art, music and gymnastics. We were able to support this financially, but many families are not in that position.

November 2020