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.]


Response to the UK Parliament’s Call for Evidence regarding Home Education

The points raised in the call for evidence and my responses to them are detailed below.

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

Local authorities have had little or no impact on the education of my children while they have been home educated. The responsibility to educate them and safeguard them has, quite rightly, fallen with us (their parents) to ensure that they received a level of education to prepare them for their future. There have never been any services we required offered by the local authorities until the point where my daughter chose to step into the school system [personal information]. In my opinion there has been a drop in the quality of school education with so much focus on “passing” the exams and measuring schools’ achievements that schools miss the opportunity to inspire our children to think for themselves, to investigate and to learn things that are not included in the standard curriculum and to treat the children as the individuals they are.

Recent changes to the guidance local authorities were given caused confusion over what was required from them, confusion between education and health and welfare and confusion between the parental duties and the local authority duties to provide for a child’s education.

Whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required

There is no evidence I am aware of that a statutory register will help anyone. I have met and spoken with many home educating families over the years and it is never the easy choice. It takes a commitment to family and requires resources to enable this option and due to the attitudes of society when your child is not going to school, which are completely unfounded, also requires a significant amount of confidence in this as a solution. A register requires money for administration which if it serves no other purpose is a waste. A register without any benefit to the home educators will only be signed up to by those that you do not need to register anyway. A register with a cost to the home educators will discourage those on lower incomes from signing up. Home educating already presents a significant financial burden on the family as we have to fund all of the resources we need and are reliant on a single income to give my wife the time she needs to guide our children.

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

My children have benefitted greatly from home education. [personal information]. The necessary emphasis in schools at an early age is to focus on reading, writing and arithmetic [personal information] she has been able to overcome and thrive in the fields she wants to explore, and I firmly believe that this would not have been possible in a school environment.

My son [personal information]. Home educating in this instance has meant that we have been able to support him and encourage him, direct him as necessary and provide him with alternate learning opportunities.

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 have received very little support from governmental services. We paid for an assessment [personal information]. Had my daughter not entered the school system we would have funded her exams ourselves as there is no available funding for home educators for this purpose. We did go through CAHMS [personal information] but this was a very challenging process with many steps asking for school evidence which we did not have.

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’

Unregistered schools are a problem and are not the same as home education. The two issues deserve to be considered entirely separately.

Being formally excluded from school and off-rolling implies that the parent and child may still want to make use of the local authority school system but are struggling with the system for whatever reason. This shows that the school system does not suit every child. Not all parents are in a position to offer home education to their children and in these cases the government and local authority are failing to provide the service that they need. This has nothing to do with home education.

Neither of these elements are relevant to those who are in a position to choose to home educate and feel that it is in the best interests of their child to do so and it is dangerous to make sweeping policy decisions without realising that there is more than one group under discussion.

The role that inspection should play in future regulation of home education

Inspection implies that there are specific guidelines for how a child should be educated as the inspector will presumably be looking for specific things. This is simply not the case. Each child is different. Each child’s needs are different. Home educators often understand this better than anyone else.

If there is a true cause for concern over a child’s upbringing and welfare then there are facilities in place to govern those situations without making a mandatory inspection for all home educators.

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 that I am aware of. The support for home educators predominantly comes from other home educators and I do not see this situation changing in the near future. All of the elements that seem to be under discussion impose restrictions, monitoring and negative connotations for an element of society that have found main stream education does not meet the standards that they want or need for their children.

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

COVID-19 has had far less of an impact on home educated children than on school educated children. The “teacher” is in isolation with the child, so can continue to perform as before. The child is used to finding materials online, with and without assistance, irrespective of being housebound. Many home educated children are able to spend much more time out visiting places of interest (such as museums, art galleries etc.) and these activities have been curtailed. They participate in extra-curricular activities (dance classes, swimming, Girl Guides/Scouts, gymnastics etc.) with friends some of whom are home educated and some of whom are not. These types of activity are impacted in the same ways that everyone else’s are so this is not a special case.

If anything, COVID-19 has shown some friends who were not sure about home education that they could cope with the format for their children, leading to an increased number of people asking me about some of the challenges we have faced over the years and considering whether it might be a better solution for them, particularly as the COVID epidemic continues.

November 2020