Written evidence submitted by H Chalkey


Please find below my submission to this call for evidence. I have been home-educating my four children for ten years. Three of them previously attended state schools. One is now at University having studied for GCSEs and A’Levels at home.

I am a qualified social worker, have worked as a social care inspector for children’s services, a college lecturer with students aged 14+ and have experience as an LA appointed school governor.

I believe that the current regulatory framework is sufficient.

Morally and legally, parents are responsible for ensuring their children receive an efficient full-time education’ with regard to their age, ability, aptitude and any special educational needs. LA’s role to investigate when they believe parents are not fulfilling this duty is fair, reasonable and enshrined in law.

Parents are the best suited and most motivated to meet their children’s needs, and unless there is evidence to the contrary, there is no reason to doubt their competence and motivation.

Benefits of home education.

There are many benefits to home education. Children have the freedom to learn what is important, relevant and useful for their life, at their own pace. Often children will deep-dive into subjects that interest them, retaining more information and gaining transferable skills and knowledge that serve them well in later studies.

Home educated children have more chance to receive individual and personal attention focused on their needs and their interests. With the support of loving, engaged and dedicated parents these children have the time, the space and the attention to flourish, and to positively impact our communities and our planet for a better future.

As humans we are hard-wired to learn. Looking back over human history, it’s amazing to consider what we’ve achieved, by and large without any need for formal, compulsory schooling. Being forced to learn to someone else’s agenda can severely damage a child’s motivation, their natural curiosity and joy of learning. Home educated children face less pressure to conform to artificially imposed deadlines and milestones that can have devastating effects on their relationship to learning and their future life-chances.

Allowing our children to learn in a natural way encourages them to make connections and discover themes that run through their studies. This recognition and understanding that the world is not divided into distinct subject areas but is closely interconnected and interweaved, is hugely important for all our futures. Given the problems that we’re facing in the world, more joined up thinking will undoubtedly help us face the challenges ahead.

The home education community in the UK and worldwide allows children the opportunity to meet and learn with others, not just in their local area but on a national and even international scale.

Home educated children have the chance to spend more time with their families developing secure and stable attachments across multiple ages and generations. These connections are so important for our children now in their childhoods but also for their future happiness and emotional well-being, and for stability and peace in our communities.

Home educating families have more time to attend to their children’s changing emotional and social needs, more time to focus on ‘real-life’ practical skills that will serve them well in adulthood and more flexibility to adapt and keep pace with their children’s growth and development.

Children have more time and opportunities to play and engage in leisure and sports activities, and more time to relax, all hugely important for well-being and mental health.   

Home educated children typically take far more responsibility for their learning than they are allowed within the school setting and as a consequence are often highly self-motivated, resourceful and determined to achieve at their chosen activities in life.

There is lots of evidence that children who are home educated achieve high educational outcomes compared to their peers. They fare well in higher education and the workplace as those skills of self-motivation, taking responsibility for their own learning, and their ability to seek out and critically appraise information, are well-honed.

LA duties, registration and inspection.

The LA’s role to investigate when they believe parents are not fulfilling their duties, is fair, reasonable and enshrined in law.

Safeguarding legislation applies to all families, including those who home educate. There is no need for a register or any additional legislation and would be a poor use of resources, time and energy for all parties. Safeguarding statistics demonstrate that home educated children are at no greater risk than their schooled peers, in fact they are often thought to be safer than many children in school, given the high levels of bullying, violence and abuse known to take place in school settings. 

Home education is a legal and legitimate way for parents to fulfil their legal responsibility, and should not be seen, in itself as a cause for concern. Neither should schools be seen as the default option, this goes against the letter and spirit of education law, and human rights legislation and principles.

Parents should not have to register when they are fulfilling their legal responsibility to provide education for their children, this is a matter of personal concern for families and the LA’s role is clear - to investigate should there be any concern that the parents are not fulfilling their duties.

Registration for one group in society merely on the basis that they have chosen to opt out of an optional public service is discriminatory, unethical and at odds with human rights legislation. Registration would not be acceptable for any other ethnic, religious or culturally homogeneous group and it is not acceptable here.

LAs have clear roles and responsibilities regarding children who are at risk and the government could much more effectively serve and protect children by reforming our failing school system.

Registration and inspection of home education may put many children’s education at risk, raising levels of fear in families and could be used to justify unnecessary intrusions on family life, disrupting and damaging children’s education and well-being for no good reason.

Parents should be able to focus their energy on meeting the individual needs of their children rather than having to explain and justify educational choices to LA staff who may have little or no knowledge or experience with educational philosophies and methods outside of the school system.

Families may feel pressure to focus more time and effort on school type activities that produce evidence recognisable to LA staff. Yet many of these activities may be detrimental to children’s love of learning, do not truly represent the breadth and depth of learning taking place and fail to serve our children’s needs. For instance there is increasing evidence that real learning is far more likely to take place when children are given trust and freedom to pursue their own interests than when they are dictated to by a curriculum or teacher with their own agenda.

The majority of LA staff in EHE departments have a background in school education and little or no understanding and experience of home education. As such they may place a higher value on learning that looks like school while natural learning/unschooling/autonomous/relaxed home education styles and methods may be discouraged and penalised. Yet these are based on strong educational theory, research and respect for children.

There is much evidence supporting these methods, showing positive educational outcomes and a positive social and emotional impact on children, families and communities. While there is increasing evidence and concern about the quality of education provided by schools and the myriad of negative social and emotional impacts the current school system has on individuals and society.

If, the government truly cares about meeting the needs of children, resources would be much better used improving schools, not wasted in unnecessary bureaucracy around home education that has no justification.

Support for home educated children and the impact of Covid-19

Many home educated children were failed by the education system this year when they were unable to gain grades that would allow them to progress to higher education or into the workplace. Thought and finances should be given to ensure home educated children are not disadvantaged and that they have equality of opportunity with their schooled peers in regards to exams.  

LAs are there to serve the community as a whole, and providing support to those families within the community that need it should be a point of good practice. Working in partnership with home educating groups, LAs could gain a better understanding of how home education works and find out the type of support that might be helpful for families in their area.


January 2021