Written evidence submitted by Dr Roger Slack


Submission to Parliamentary Select Committee on Education


A. Evidence about Home Educated Pupils


1. Evidence from Academic Research


Unfortunately there is sparse academic, peer reviewed research on home education in the UK.

Possibly the chartered Psychologist, Dr Paula Rothermel FRSA, has done most. She conducted research at the University of Durham from 1998 to 2014. As a result of her research for her PhD, the Guardian reported on August 13, 2000 that she had found homeschooling children largely outperform their peers in conventional schools. According to the article in The Guardian, she found that 65 per cent of home-educated children scored more than 75 per cent in a general mathematics and literacy test, compared to a national figure of only 5.1 per cent. The average score for school-educated pupils in the same test was 45 per cent, while that of the home-educated children was 81 per cent. She concluded "Home-educated children do better in conventional terms and in every other way too. This study is the first evidence we have proving that home education is a huge benefit to large numbers of children. Society just assumes that school is best but because there have never been any comparative studies before this one, the assumption is baseless".


There is far more extensive research evidence on the advantages of home education in the USA.


Probably the most significant paper was that of Rudner, Lawrence M. (1999). Scholastic achievement and demographic characteristics of home school students in 1998. Educational Policy Analysis Archives, 7(8) . Rudner was an experienced and respected statistician. His research, which considered a sample of 20,760 children from 11,930 families, showed that on average by the age of nine home educated children were on average one year ahead of their state school contemporaries. As the children got older this gap widened.


Subsequent research by Ray, Brian D. (2000). Home schooling: The ameliorator of negative influences on learning? Peabody Journal of Education, 75(1 & 2), 71-106 supported Rudner’s conclusion. This took into account the relationship of academic achievement were the father’s and mother’s formal education level/attainment, whether the father or mother was a certified teacher, family income, money spent on education, legal status of the family, gender of student, years child was home educated, time spent in formal instruction, age formal instruction began, use of libraries, who administered the achievement test, use of computers, and degree of state regulation of home schooling.


2. Evidence from GCSE Examinations


I am Head of Centre Covenant Christian School which where home educated pupils were graded this year using mock papers and experienced and qualified markers. Ten of the 11 grades awarded were in the 7 to 9 levels. This is a very small sample but in my experience typical of results in previous years.


3. Evidence on Social Development


This topic has also been extensively researched in the USA. For example Medlin, Richard G. (2006). Homeschooled Children’s Social Skills. Home School Researcher, 17(1), 1-8. He found, “Homeschooled children’s social skills scores were consistently higher than those of public school students. Differences were most marked for girls and for older children, and encompassed all four of the specific skills tested: cooperation, assertiveness, empathy, and self-control. Among homeschooled children, girls were more empathetic and assertive than boys, and at the lower grades, more self-controlled” “There appears to be, therefore, a convergence of evidence from three different perspectives––parental report, objective observers, and self-report––that homeschooled children’s social skills are exceptional”


In White, Scott, Moore, Megan, & Squires. (2009). Examination of previously homeschooled college students with the Big Five model of Personality. Home School Researcher 25(1), 1-7. The authors concluded “College students who were previously homeschooled were found to be significantly more agreeable, conscientious and open as compared to their peers in the national college-aged norms. “The finding that homeschooled students were more open is antithetical to the concern of critics who have expressed concern that removing these children from the influence of traditional schooling might produce closed-minded individuals.


I personally attended 10 conferences for home educators at Cliff College near Sheffield and Cefn Lea Conference Centre in Mid-Wales between 1994 and 2012. Families came from all over England and some from further afield. We knew by a show of hands that about half of the families attending had not attended such a conference before and their children knew none of the others present. Up to 200 children attended. At no time did I observe any who were unable to talk and play with their new friends or who had developed bad social habits.


B. Evidence from Local Authorities


The following paper may be particularly relevant to the Select Committee’s present call for evidence. Ray, Brian D., & Eagleson, Bruce K. (2008, August 14). State regulation of homeschooling and homeschoolers’ SAT scores. Journal of Academic Leadership, 6(3).

The purpose of this study was to determine whether there is a relationship between the college-admissions (or college-aptitude) SAT scores of students who were homeschooled and the degree of state regulation of homeschooling.” “The SAT publisher provided to the authors data related to all 6,170 of these students; 2,887 (46.8%) were male and 3,283 (53.2%) were female. The group data, not individual student’s scores, were available and received for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. No significant statistical relationships were found between the degree of state regulation of homeschooling and students’ SAT verbal, mathematics, and total scores.


Given the positive research on home education there remains an unacceptable attitude toward EHE from some local authorities stretching back many years which one assumes is the result of ignorance or prejudice.


A recent example is the included in the job specification the post of  Elective Home Education Officer as advertised by Blackpool Council. One of the “Main Duties and Responsibilities” of the successful applicant is To develop strategies and a working approach which contributes to reducing the number of Blackpool resident children who are receiving EHE.”


November 2020