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 of evidence about Elective Home Education. 


 This is our family’s submission of evidence about Elective Home Education. It is certainly different from the current sudden and forced ‘home school’ due to the recent lockdown. It is also different to homeschooling because of irreconcilable problems of bullying and failing school support, or because the child could not get admission to a desired school, or because of health-related matters, or SEN, or due to challenges of wellbeing in a child. Rather, EHE is a purposely decided path taken by several families like ours for which the parents or care givers have given serious thought and commitment for the duration. 


Reasons why we chose to home educate. 


For the sake of length, I will summarise this into two main headings :

1. Our Christian worldview.  

The European Convention on Human Rights states that it is the "right of the parents to educate their children in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions" (Protocol 1, article 2) We believe that it is the parents' right to decide when their children are ready to learn about sex and relationships, for example, and to decide the best way to introduce and teach the details, bearing in mind their mental and emotional readiness. We do not believe that this is the role of (overworked, overwhelmed, disillusioned) teacher acquaintances, or (intimidating) peers on the playground, but should be in a warm, mature, and safe family environment. We believe that it is failure in this area causing the pressure to conform to early sexual activity, be exposure to drugs, (online) abuse, and unruliness in the classrooms. According to recent figures by the ONS in 2018, the United Kingdom has the highest number of teenage pregnancies per year in Western Europe and it stands at number six on the list with the highest rates among Europe's poorest countries. Again, we chose to do our best to ensure that our sons did not become ‘a statistic’ and one of such means is to personally commit to their positive education.


2. Black Caribbean pupils’ underachievement  

Sometime in the early 2000 or so, there was a publication??? that black boys were under achievers; only above Bangladeshi boys. By this time we'd had 2 boys and it was of great concern to us. In 2017, a report was published confirming that we had indeed chosen the right part for our sons (now [number] altogether). In the 150 page report in 2017, it was stated: 


"The underachievement of Black Caribbean heritage pupils has been a persistent problem facing national policy makers in British schools for many years. Over the past four decades national research has shown that Black Caribbean heritage pupils’ achievements persistently lag behind the average achievement of their peers and the gap is growing at the end of primary and secondary education."  BLACK CARIBBEAN UNDERACHIEVEMENT IN SCHOOLS IN ENGLAND, 2017, pg 1. 

Having done various case studies, some of the many factors contributing to this problem were stated in chapters 4 and 5 as follows: 

Headteachers’ poor leadership on equality issues, teachers’ low expectations, Curriculum relevance and barriers, Lack of targeted support, negative peer pressure, cultural clashes and behaviour, exclusions issues and racial equality, schools ability grouping and lower tier entry issues, labelling of pupils and issues with grade predictions, family and home factors that may contribute to Black Caribbean pupils’ underachievement, lack of parental aspiration and low expectations,the labelling of Black boys in particular as being difficult behaviourally, which can lead to their exclusion from school at a very young age,and so on. Other common reasons are quoted below:


It was a 'no brainer' - we certainly did not wish for any of our sons to become 'a statistic' and a liability to themselves and to society!   


The 15+ year journey so far.. 


  Our first son started his education in a private school. [personal information], we decided to home educate.  We wanted to raise children with our Christian worldview with good spiritual resilience and moral character. So, we decided to pull him out of the private school. I quit my job, and my husband became the breadwinner. We also downsized our house to reduce any financial strain. That was in [date], we have never looked back, nor regretted our decision. [personal information]. 


Some of the Academic benefits of Elective Home Education to our family (in no particular order): 



The Challenges of Home education 

In the past few years, there seems to have developed a negative shift in attitude and publicity against home schoolers - articles upon articles seem to have surfaced, especially in the wake of Covid-19 about how home schooling is a drudgery and difficult, etc. Unfortunately, those 'forced' into home schooling due to the current crisis and those who have genuinely worked very hard on educating their children at home have been lumped together. At some point, there was negative publicity about home education being a breeding ground for religious extremists; this we found absolutely ridiculous as there was no evidence to suggest that the terrorism of recent years was carried out by home educated children! 

  As I mentioned earlier, home education for my husband and I has been a genuine conviction and an enjoyable privilege, not a drudgery or something to moan and complain about. We genuinely enjoy our children and have benefitted from learning alongside them and plugging the gaps in our own learning! From what we can see so far, none of our children are heading to gangs, prison, or academic underachievement, or even terrorism! 


Compulsory Registration 

  We are currently registered with [organisation], a provision for elective home educators in affiliation with [local institutions]. The scheme does not impose what to learn and how, however, parents must submit termly self-assessment and progress reports for each child of no less than 1000 words. Such reports cover the core subjects, plus Arts and crafts, P.E. resources, how the children get to socialise, and so on. They must also access GCSE courses if the child is to remain till age 16, something [a number] of our sons have already taken good advantage of. Additionally, we now get yearly visits by a representative from the [location] Council and last year, after seeing samples of the boys’ work and meeting them in person as well, she stated in her report that she was happy with our home education and had no concerns whatsoever. Several families already have regular visits like this. We are not off the radii, so to speak, and there are already legal powers in place to intervene if there are safeguarding issues. It  is dubious to now want to impose what appears to be a harsh compulsory registration. It is an encroachment that will negatively affect existing positive, stable, and effective and working family systems – as the saying goes, “if it isn’t broke, why fix it?”! 

  It is not certain what the government is trying to achieve other than hostile state control of home educators.  With already tight and overstretched public budgets, where will the funding and resources for its implementation come from, especially in the light of the current financial pressures with Covid-19? Will this not rather be a waste of taxpayers’ money, better spent in relieving the extreme pressures state schools are struggling with? According to the PISA ratings, the UK schooling system is failing on many levels. Some of the reasons include: 

- Slashed and inadequate funding and investment

- The well known fact that the teaching profession in the UK is facing acute recruitment and retention and there are great difficulties in recruiting more (qualified) teachers  with teaching assistants having to step up to teaching roles.

- The well known fact about over-worked, disillusioned teachers and head teachers, and limited relevant resources

- Oversized classrooms of 30+ children to a teacher 

- Challenges teaching children whose first language is not English, 

- Unruly students from troubled homes making classroom life difficult for others with anti social behaviour and indiscipline 

- Violence and knives in schools

- Bullying with teachers turning a blind eye out of fear

- Gravitation of school conflict to online and social media abuse

- Poorly supported SEN children,

And so on. 

Concluding Remarks 


As you can probably see, we believe that we have adequate reasons to home educate and wish to continue to do so without government compulsory registration and monitoring.


We have no regrets as a home educating family and are blessed with the results witnessed so far. Many home educators do so without much or any financial input from the government but we are not complaining; we already have excellent support networks in place.


Home educators are the government's friend - we pose less pressure on the already overstretched resources, so it is rather unfortunate that in a democratic country, the government is looking to apply extra pressure, and spend more resources controlling this community needlessly. State control will be distracting to the serious business of educating our children, it'll be damaging if the current state of government schools is anything to go by, drive a wedge between parents and their local councils and fuel the hostility that already exists in parts of the UK. We brought these children into the world - we love them, and wish to protect them. We know what is best for them, not the remote government.


November 2020