Written evidence submitted by Home Education Hertfordshire

[Note: This evidence has been redacted by the Committee. Text in square brackets has been inserted where text has been redacted.]

Home Education Hertfordshire


This submission collates the responses of a number of families who home educate in and around Hertfordshire, and are members of the Home Education Hertfordshire Facebook group, which provides a platform for home educators to meet online, arrange activities and support each other.

The duties of local authorities with regards to home education, including safeguarding and assuring the quality of home education;

We asked members – What do you think of the current national guidelines around home education in theory and practice?

The majority of respondents consider the EHE Guidelines to be overbearing, and think they should be removed or modified.

No responses considered them to be underused, but they are generally considered to be unclear.


See Annex 1 for Comments on the duties of LAs

Whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required

We asked members – whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required?

Members agreed overwhelmingly that a statutory register should not be created.

A small number of respondents would consider a register acceptable as long as it didn’t result in monitoring of home education.

See Annex 2 for Comments on a statutory register

The benefits children gain from home education, and the potential disadvantages they may face

We asked members – What benefits do you feel you/your children gain/have gained from home education?

We asked membersWhat disadvantages do you feel you/your children have had from being home educated?


Home Education Hertfordshire members shared a wide range of benefits of home education. The flexibility of home education is a recurring theme.

Disadvantages. Fewer respondents reported disadvantages, and some reported no disadvantages. By far the biggest disadvantage is having to deal with other people’s negative views of home education

See Annex 3 for Comments on the Benefits and Disadvantages of Home Education

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;

We asked members - Where do you get support and help with home educating from?


The overwhelming consensus was that home educators provide the main source of support.

This may be face to face and/or online, both at a local, national and sometimes international level.
It may involve providing support and sharing experiences; sharing resources, ideas, skills and specialist knowledge and expertise.

We asked members - What support do you receive/use for home education?


We asked members - What support would you like for home education, but don’t have?

Home educators supplement peer to peer support with free and paid for resources.
But there are areas where support is lacking – most notably with access to exams arrangements and finding exam centres and in accessing 14-16 college. 

Local Authority and Specialist support:

We asked members – How do YOU find Hertfordshire County Council is in regards to home education?

Half of respondents found the LA to be ‘information seeking, but hands off’.

This may be reflective of experiences of during lockdown, rather than the usual situation, as the LA used lockdown to make informal inquiries of a number of established home educators, when this is not common practice. Many, having provided information, have not had any reply from the LA. 

Overall the majority of people have a neutral relationship with Hertfordshire County Council with regards to home education. The LA does not provide support, but doesn’t generally cause problems for families.
Some members however have had negative experiences with staff being rude and failing to understand a range of educational approaches.

See Annex 4 for experiences with the LA



We asked members

– Have you ever received support as a home educator or home educated child for any of the following, from your local authority and
– Have you ever received support as a home educator or home educated child for any of the following, from sources other than the local authority?


A very small number, fewer than 10 had received support from the LA ranging across exams, SEN, mental health and Careers advice.

More than twice as many home educators reported receiving support from sources other than the LA.

We asked membersIf you have asked for support for one or more of the following from the NHS or the local authority, whilst home educating?

A picture containing chart

Description automatically generatedWhilst home educators provide the bedrock of support there are situations where specialist support is needed.

Whilst mental health support access doesn’t appear to be affected by home educating, it is clearly a barrier to access to support for SEN, disability and long- term illness.


See Annex 5 for comments on support

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’;

Comments from  members:

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

This is interpreted here as inspection/monitoring of home educators

Comments from  members:

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; and

Comments from  members:

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.’

We asked members – How has Covid impacted your home education?


By far the biggest impact has been the impact of groups and social meet ups stopping, both during lockdown and afterwards. This is because groups have not restarted due to Covid requirements and/or confusion over whether groups can restart.

Families experienced a mix of improved family life and both increased and decreased stress.

Of concern is that families in need of help with mental health, medical and SEN needs were unable to access these vital services.

More than half of respondents affected by exam cancellations have been unable to gain qualifications.


Secondly, COVID has suspended many HE groups, which impacts chances to socialise. Either because it's not clear if the groups can run under the current rules, or because the burden of complying with the COVID risk assessments to run the groups is too high as groups are often small and non-profit.

Thirdly, a non-negligible number of home educated children either fall into COVID-vulnerable groups (people who need to shield) themselves or have family members who do, and so have not been able to join in normal activities: in this third case, similar problems will apply for some children who aren't normally home educated but haven't been able to return to school because of health issues, so I'm not sure it's strictly a home ed issue.

Annex 1: Comments from members on the duties of LAs:

Measuring a parents' ability to educate their child makes absolutely no sense unless all aspects of parent’s effectiveness is going to be measured ie. care, diet, exercise, cleanliness, relationships, online safety etc.

Conflating the roles of social services and education are, in my opinion, being used by the state to take control of areas that should remain private family matters.

For me, it's a case of getting their own house in order before seeking to sit in judgement of families that are trying to do the best for their children.

As long as schools and local authorities are powerless to protect children from the downsides of mass schooling, then I think they need to understand that their intervention is too little too late for many families. Investment in schools that cater more effectively to the needs of children who are not coping with their current school situation for whatever reasons would be a much more effective way of making provision. Instead of waiting until the system has failed them, intervene earlier for the home educated children that want to be in school, the families that really could do with a supportive learning environment for their children.

I also feel that if the local authority is happy to 'outsource' early years education to unpaid, untrained and unqualified volunteers (such as the thousands of preschool committees run by parents all over the country) then they cannot suddenly find those same people incapable of caring for their own children. Having dealt extensively with the local authority during 5 years volunteering in early years education, and having struggled to get anything but the absolute bare minimum when it came to supporting our early years provision, I would question whether their resources are being allocated to those who need them the most.

Annex 2: Comments on a statutory register

Annex 3: Comments on the Benefits and Disadvantages of Home Education

- Tailored to child not one-size fits all and you sink or swim
- ratio is 1:1 or 2:1 not 34:2
- able to tailor learning strategies e.g. dd is visual, experiential and kinaesthetic learner who needs lots of sensory input and physical activity which is not conducive to classroom setting
-able to take advantage of opportunity led learning e.g. able to take part in research project on migrating whales in NZ
- able to cater for the wide variation in ability across the curriculum (e.g. daughter working at year 8/9 level in maths but year 4/5 level in English but year 5 by age)
- vary learning times to suit child's needs
- has allowed dd time to develop social skills at own pace (taken much longer than academic abilities)
- dd has a direct influence over what she learns, when she learns and how she learns. She is very much part of the planning process.
- have the ability to take time out if needed without worry of how will we catch up
- not disrupted by others in a class
- friends are chosen due to common interests not primarily age.
- loss of income
- not an issue at the moment but access to GCSE/A-Levels a concern
- at the moment lack of social opportunities/home ed groups (it's not a problem we encountered pre-covid)
- local authorities overstepping- postcode lottery

Disadvantage- lack of exam centres

Financial costs.
Not easily being able to do exams, whether that’s financially or practically.
What I personally would love to see:
Completely independent and personal family choices taken into consideration. For example: if you want your child in a school environment, that’s fine. If you want to totally homeschool, that’s fine, too. If you want to opt for a kind of flexible schooling, so maybe having your child on role to enable lessons to be set and marked, or some kind of virtual school rooms being run... then that should be fine, too.
There’s no reason why this couldn’t be done, successfully in this day and age.

Disadvantages: it is a lot of intensive work for the parents. It is also a privilege - not everyone can afford the time and energy to do this (even if they wanted to)... but it is worth it to see our kids thrive.

Things HE kids don't generally have to contend with so much: bullying; hazing; etc.

Food for thought: research like that expounded by Gabor Mate and Gordon Neufeld points to HE kids having better social skills, longterm, due to not becoming 'peer-oriented' in the way that most school kids quickly do.

Instead, they can continue to learn and take their social and behavioural cues mostly from mature adults (rather than the blind-leading-the-reckless thing that can happen among teens). This has the potential to lead to a better sense of self, higher self-esteem, an increased ability to speak up for oneself, negotiate, set boundaries firmly but kindly, make good, moral decisions, etc. HE alone does not deliver all these outcomes, of course, but it does improve the probability that children grow up more securely attached to adults who serve as moral guides and role models who can influence them more positively than their teenage peers generally can.

- freedom to be outdoors a lot more for those who choose, bringing up a generation connected with the earth. Imperative in today's world to have more people speaking up for the natural world.

- freedom to change things around as often as required, fluidity and flexibility being key skills in real life at all stages.

- when more children are allowed to follow their passions and create niche areas of work in many cases, we are creating the potential for a society where there are more happy and fulfilled people, where there are skills and talents in a multitude of arenas, a society with knowledge that is shared, a give and take rather than the dog eat dog world of competition. Not saying HE is the only avenue through which this almost "utopian" world is possible nor is it possible in one or two generations, but it creates a possibility over time.

Annex 4: Experiences with the LA

They wanted more information and was even a bit rude about 'is she even getting a full education' it was frustrating as I hadn’t really chosen to home educate. I was left with no choice after years of school refusal and no support. The LA was quick to tell me all the things I should be doing but couldn’t offer any advice regarding any support with special educational needs support.

Annex 5: Comments on support

Fortunately we have been able to save and are able to do this but if shouldn’t be this difficult or expensive. Many children were let down again over the summer with no predicted grades after being let down by the school system in the first place. If every child deserves an education suited to their ability and aptitude then why are they making it so much harder for us to facilitate. In my opinion every area should have exam centres available and free to use for home educators. Or at least pay what schools pay about £30 per exam, not 150 or more in a lot of cases. I also think lab equipment should be made available, or a slot system to do lab work at a school.


November 2020