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.]

I respond to this call of evidence as the parent, and therefore primary educator, of three children [ages]. I have both experience of my daughter [age] attending school for [school years], and also as a home educator of [time period]. Previous to deregistering my daughter, I have heard the lived experiences of many families I know who choose to electively home educate their children. I was motivated to provide evidence, as home education has positively transformed our family life and been extraordinarily beneficial to our daughter, in ways that continue to surprise me. Home education has enabled our daughter to gain a thirst for learning, and approach her learning and life with complete well-being. My youngest children are[ages], and of course we are already starting them on the lifelong love for learning that home education can provide. I am passionate about the positive future for home education and its numerous benefits for individuals and society.

I would like to address each of the points laid out in Education Committee’s call for evidence. I will start with the area in which I feel that I can give the most lived experience and first-hand evidence for – the benefits children gain from home education – and then will move systematically through the remaining points. 

In response to: The benefits children gain from home education, and the potential disadvantages they may face.

Home educated children experience an engaging and varied education, which is delivered in a safe and nurturing environment, and enables the child to reach their full potential. Home education allows for an education which is tailored to a child’s specific needs and offers the flexibility to advance in areas which a child excels, and also to focus on area’s in which they struggle. Home education also fosters a love of learning which encourages a constant wonder and ability for children to self-direct their learning, a valuable asset which I personally wish school had provided me in advance of my time in higher education. 

We deregistered our daughter from her school in order to provide her with a full-time education at home, having seen how much her learning and vivacity thrived during the forced time of home learning away from school, due to Covid-19. As we continue our home education journey, we are continuously amazed by her knowledge gain and her enthusiasm she has newly gained for learning. Not only this, but her behaviour and happiness has changed remarkably for the better.

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

The current approach legislated for, and that which currently should be applied by Local Authorities, creates a balance which maintains the right to family privacy and also enables child protection. Local Authorities already have substantial powers which would enable them to intervene if they feel there is an issue. The approach taken by our Local Authority (LA) [local authority name] fosters a good relationship between the LA and law-abiding, hardworking home educators. To give the LA greater responsibility over safeguarding (as opposed to it being shared with healthcare etc.) would make them increasingly risk-averse in order to avoid any criticism, and this overstretching of resources would turn their attention onto well looked after and educated children, and away from those children who are most at risk and in need of the LA.

In assuring the quality of home education, as is currently required, a yearly report provides the most adequate insight into the education provided. Suggestions such as home visits and evidence of work would be inappropriate as these snapshots do not provide a detailed or accurate summary of the education given. Additionally, it would be an overstretch of resources to be asking LAs to assess children’s work – especially given the nature of home education with parent’s tailoring the education to their child’s age and ability.

In response to: Whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required

There is no evidence that a statutory register is necessary or would change outcomes. Not only would a statutory register be a waste of time and resources for an already stretched LA but a statutory register would be a worrying over reach of the state. Parents are after all the primary educators and current law states that parents are responsible for a child’s education. Therefore, schools are educating on behalf of the parents, not the government.

In response to: 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

Any support for home educators and their children is gladly welcomed, though of course this should be voluntary on the parent’s part e.g., declining use of support should not be seen as a cause for concern for the LA. I note that the general feeling amongst home educators is that they are subjected to unwarranted suspicion from the LA. I feel that the greatest support for home educators would be a change in attitude towards home education and a recognition of its merits, to enable parents to feel more confident and foster a better working relationship with the LA.

In response to: 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’

I am concerned that elective home education is wrongly grouped with issues which are not evidence based or even associated, e.g., off-rolling. And combining legislation in this way would lead to ineffective policy. I am also concerned on the focus that home educated children are a safeguarding risk in regards to their wellbeing, merely by the fact they home educated – quite often parents and their children decide to home educate following bullying and harassment at school.

In response to: The role that inspection should play in future regulation of home education.

Home education is a diverse spectrum of educations which are individually tailored to each specific child’s needs – inspection would be wholly inadequate in regulating home education. There is no mandate for inspection, and additionally no evidence that inspection would help any at risk children. It would just serve to further use up LA resources at no added benefit. Mostly it would be an unnecessary intrusion on home life.

In response to: 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 impact

I have personally found that the greatest negative impact has been on misunderstandings of the law, and home education activities which help me to provide a full-time suitable education for my daughter, have been stopped during the second lockdown despite being allowed to remain open. I am also aware that many groups are still not running following March’s lockdown.

An impact, which does not affect me personally, but I know has caused anguish for many home educating families is the lack of provision made for the cancelled exams (GCSE, A level) of home educated children in the summer 2020.


November 2020