Written evidence submitted by [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.]

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

I was home educated for [time period], from the age of [ages]. Home education greatly improved my mental health and allowed me to work at my own accelerated pace. I took my A levels two years early before going on to attend university. I have never felt disadvantaged by home education in any way (although my parents were disadvantaged by the cost of me sitting exams!), but I do feel that I was failed by the school system.

As a result of my own positive experience, I have been home educating my own children for the last [time period]. When they were young, we followed an informal, child-led approach that allowed them to learn through play and spend lots of time outdoors in nature. As they have got older, home education has enabled me to provide a personalised education that meets each of my children’s individual needs. They have benefited from the freedom to follow their own interests, learn new skills when they were developmentally ready, and opportunities to interact socially with a far wider variety of adults and children than they would in school. Spending time out and about in the “real world” has helped them to understand the relevance of their learning.

Despite never attending primary school, my eldest child has chosen to attend secondary school and is thriving. His experience of being home educated has given him a wonderful enthusiasm for learning and he has had so many compliments from his teachers about his attitude, behaviour, knowledge and skills.

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

I do not believe that there should be any routine inspection of home education. This is because inspection would require an inspection framework, but one of the main advantages of home education is that families can follow whatever approach works best for them and their children. Whilst most schools are required to follow the national curriculum, home educating families are free to choose from a diversity of different methods.

Schools expect children to learn certain things at certain ages, which is important because teachers need to teach the same thing to a whole class, but these types of age-related standards should not be applied to home educated children. For example, my son taught himself to read when he was about [age] years old, which is very late by school standards. However, his secondary school English teacher recently told him that he is the best reader in his year! Such a child-led approach to reading might be considered inadequate by an inspection, but the outcomes prove that this type of learning can be very effective.

Local authority staff seem to have very little training or understanding about how home education works, and therefore are not equipped to make judgements about it. Imposing inspections on home educating families will limit their freedom to educate in a way that is best for their child. My concern is that routine inspections could actually lead to poorer outcomes for home educated children.

November 2020