Written evidence submitted by Mrs Fiona Gardner



I am a mum to 4 children and we are in our 7th year of home-educating. We have home-educated from the beginning and we have found it hugely beneficial for our individual children and to us as a family unit. To learn at our own pace and to explore subjects in greater depth is creates a grat learning environment. Not to have the pressure of being classed as ‘behind’ if a subject has been harder to grasp or being kept back when a subject is easily grasped gives our children acceptance that they can learn at their own pace and that is good.


I thoroughly believe that parents are primarily responsible for the education of their children. If a parent chooses to send their child to school, they are relying on the teachers to educate their child not the state. If a parent chooses to educate a child a home it is their responsibility not the states.



I believe that Local Authorities already have power to intervene where they believe a child is at risk of abuse. The current approach allows the Local Authorities to intervene where necessary whilst maintaining family privacy.


I think that giving overstretched authorities even more responsibilities e.g. interfeering with law-abiding families, will distract them from protecting those most at risk.


Statutory Register

I wholeheartedly disagree that a statutory register for home-educating families is right. It is the parents responsibility to ensure an appropriate education is being given. Why should I need to register with the state to teach my own children? Home education is a natural progression from teaching a baby to walk, a toddler 1, 2, 3 and the alphabet, to teaching them harder things as they grow and develop. I would see a register as a interferance in family life. Often home education doesn’t follow a traditional 9am-3pm structure, a lot of learning/talking/discussing is done outside of those hours or in unconventional places e.g. in the car on the way to gymnastics…which is just normal family life.


There is no evidence a statutory register would be effective. It’s unlikely that parents who are of concern would register anyway. And also where are the funds coming from to put this is place when local authorities already have limited resources?




I wholeheartedly disagree that inspection of home education is needed. It is very much inappropriate as no two home education settings are the same…that’s what is so good about home educating. That a family can set up their home in the most beneficial way for their child. This would be most impractical for inspections. Would you have to employ people who had been home-educated as a child so as to have an ‘expert’ in the inspector role? This really would be an intrusion in family life.


Unregistered school/Exclusion and ‘Off-rolling’.

Elective Home Education (EHE) is being unfairly linked with these 3 issues. EHE is a worthwhile and viable option for many families. They have chosen to Home Educate because they think this is the best thing for their children.

The issues of illegal schools, unregistered schools and ‘off-rolling’ are major issues that need to be addressed separately from EHE. Dealing with these things without including EHE means that they can be dealt with properly.

I am very concerned that home education is often wrongly associated with child abuse. Again child abuse is a separate issue to be dealt with and the authorities already have wide spread powers to deal with it. There are so many bullying issues within schools that some parents have got to the point that they are left with one option of home-educating to save their child from bullying within schools.

Home educated children are protected from the alarming levels of sexual harassment and abuse that has been documented in schools in the ‘Sexual Violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges’ document from the Department of Education in May 2018.




A home-educating family should be able to decline support/meetings/interaction with the local authorities without arrousing suspicion or cause for concern. So much of EHE flows in with normal family life. Any acceptance of support should be voluntary.


I think that local authorities are often suspicious of EHE families as they have no experience with home education and they assume we have something to hide.


A useful way for local authorities might be to help with provisions of exam fees etc.


January 2021