Written evidence submitted by Williamson


Call for evidence: Home Education 2020



I am responding to this call for evidence as a home educating parent, with a previous career history in childcare and early years. I have attempted to address to all the points raised by the committee in the spirit of full support of Home Education.


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


Parents are legally responsible for the education of their children, according to the Education Act 1996 (Section 7), this means that it is not the responsibility of the local authority to assure the quality of education, this falls to parents – they either choose a school education whereby they can (in an ideal world) hold the school accountable if they believe the education provided is not of high enough quality for their child or they choose to educate their children at home.

The Education Committee’s 2012 report states that: “10. The role of the local authority is clear with regard to home education. They have two duties: to provide support for home educating families (at a level decided by local authorities themselves), and if families wish it; and to intervene with families if the local authority is given reason to believe that a child is not receiving a suitable education. It is not the role of the local authority routinely to monitor whether a suitable education is being provided, and local authorities should not act as if it is, or cause parents to believe that it is.”

The responsibility of the Home Educating parent, more specifically, is to provide education that is suitable for individual age, aptitude and ability of their child, these education demands are beyond the expectations of school (for state schools to follow the national curriculum and the expectation of independent schools to provide a broad and balanced curriculum), it is the responsibility of the parent to ensure they are meeting these requirements.


Safeguarding and education are two separate areas;  safe guarding is not specifically a Home Education issue and there is no evidence that Home Educated children are more at risk of abuse than children who are educated at school – there are no cases of harm coming to Home Educated children where the family was not already known to Social Services. The duty of the Local Authority and Social Services is to only step in where there are legitimate concerns, Home Education alone is not a legitimate cause for concern.




Whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required


A statutory register is not required. It would be an inappropriate use of resources as all births in the UK are registered by law, as are entrances to the UK from other countries, therefore a register of children in the UK already exists. Registering Home Educated children is unnecessary.


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


Children gain many benefits from home education. These benefits include having their unique needs for education and mental and physical well being met by a conscious and responsive facilitator (usually their parent in the first case with the option of engaging in one to one or small group activities led by specialists - such as a language tutor or sports coaching) who knows them extremely well and who can respond to their changing individual requirements, without the pressures faced by teachers in schools (including, but not limited to, large numbers of students with varying needs, curriculum and time constraints and pressures of assessment of children, teachers and schools).  Electively Home Educated children have the benefit of access to a unique education and are able to have a say in the form their education takes and learn at their own individual pace. Evidence suggests that young children learn best through play and all children’s outcomes are improved when they are intrinsically motivated to learn by following their individual interests, Home Education is unique to each child and is therefore uniquely able to fulfil these needs.

The intrinsic motivation to learn not only improves their immediate learning outcomes but also their future motivation to learn, and fosters love of learning which is a valuable skill throughout life.


Electively Home Educated Children benefit from not only a unique education but also rich and diverse life experiences and opportunities and a broad range of social interactions, they are able to practice autonomy and gain decision making skills in their home environment where they feel safe and with the loving support of their parent, they are also able to practice these skills in many different environments throughout their years in education and transfer them to their adult life.

It is difficult to think of disadvantages of Home Education to the child. However, one potential disadvantage may be the impact of the hostile environment toward Home Education which are exacerbated by links made with Home Education and a list of exaggerated and unfounded concerns both by those in positions of authority and by the media. They may also be disadvantaged by the potential worry of suspicion from those who have heard about the supposed dangers of Home Education. It is also worth noting that there are many potential disadvantages to the child of attending school, such as stress caused by assessments, bullying, limited resources, punitive behavioural policies that inhibit access to free play or social interaction, restrictions in autonomy and unmet needs - in the main these are avoided by Home Educated children.




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


I have little personal experience of this. However it appears, evidenced by communications between home educating parents, that the quality and accessibility of support varies greatly from area to area. In addition it would seem that Local Authority staff are often not trained or have little understanding about the realities and the diverse nature of Home Education.


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’



If a child has been formally excluded from school, or have been subject to ‘off-rolling’, this is not elective home education; these are a symptom of specific schools, teachers, families or children in need of support and are not issues which should fall under regulations concerning Elective Home Education. If a child attends an illegal, unregistered school, they are not home educated. It does not serve Local Authorities or Home Educating Families to include illegal practices such as off rolling and the existence of unregistered schools and the problematic issue of children being de-registered as a last resort (for example due to bullying or unmet additional needs in school), alongside legal and legitimate Elective Home Education under a catch all title of “Home Education”.

In order to make this distinction clear Off rolling, illegal schools and school issues (where schools, school children or their families require support) should be subject to separate regulatory frameworks from Elective Home Education because they are separate issues.


All children have the right to mental, emotional and physical well being and all ordinary, caring parents should expect to be trusted to take the fulfilment of our parental responsibility for our children’s well being and education very seriously. Therefore the well being of children is not a topic specific to Home Education or its regulation.



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


Parents are capable of assessing their children’s needs and progress and adapting the education they provide accordingly. I do not believe inspection should play a role in future regulation of home education. This is because it would be a misdirection of resources, and would impede the progress of a flexible and child centric education which would cause a direct disadvantage for Home Educated children.



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


I have not observed any improvements, as I have no personal experience of Home Educating beore the report was published. In the multitude of different Home Education online forums I engage in, I repeatedly see parents who are struggling with a hostile Local Authority or other authority, who are not compliant with legislation and guidance - often from the outset of their Home Educating journey.


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.


My children have not experienced any specific impact of COVID19 due to being home educated. The main impact I have seen evidence of is on grades for qualifications, as there was no official support given to Home Educated families during the disrupted exam season, Those families affected should be consulted  regarding measures that would mitigate the negative impact of this lack of official support.


November 2020