Written evidence submitted by Mrs J Hollick


This call for evidence seems to be largely based upon the modern, common misunderstanding/worldview that the child is the responsibility of the state, rather than the responsibility of his/her parents.  In law, a parent is required to ensure that their child is efficiently and suitably educated, and the (essentially Victorian) state school system does not have a monopoly on this.  The duty of a local authority then, should be to provide a great education service to which parents who choose to can sub-contract the education of their children.  Parents not wishing to sub-contract the academic life of their children to the state should not be viewed with implicit suspicion by the authorities.  There is no requirement for the local authority to assess the quality of home education either – indeed OFSTED was formed to keep the schools accountable to those using them as service providers, rather than some over-arching authoritarian body with a mandate to inspect the home lives of law-abiding citizens.  Through organisations like OFQUAL, the state can already set and test academic standards of individuals (including home-educated children who wish to sit public exams), and therefore there is no need to introduce any intrusive “registration” requirements.


A statutory register for elective home educated children is not required – instead, a more nuanced view (which does not lump together the off-rolled and truants with the electively home-educated) would be more helpful.  It seems apparent from the evidence available that where “abuse” and “home education” have gone hand in hand, the individuals in question were already known to the authorities and often under the care of Social Services; a register of home-educating families would not have changed the outcomes of any of these cases.

The benefits that children gain from being home educated are many and various.  My own children are well-balanced, sociable, healthy and intelligent.  They are involved as members and helpers at various sports and youth clubs.  They do not waste time travelling to and from school, waiting in queues of traffic, contributing to congestion and pollution.  They spend less of their day in lessons because their teacher doesn’t have to look after 30 children and differentiate input across a wide range of abilities.  This allows them to become focussed learners, working quickly through what comes naturally to them, and learning how to tackle and master the skills they find more difficult.  It also allows them to spend time broadening their learning, reading widely, following their own interests, becoming more rounded individuals, and contributing to society through volunteering and taking opportunities to help others.  They have also had time to simply “be children” without SATS, targets and homework robbing them of all spare time.

Home educated children are usually expected to interact socially with a wider range of people than simply their own peers (as in school) and are therefore socially adept, friendly and caring.  Home educated children often face an intrinsic social stigma of being “different” simply because their parents have chosen a route which perhaps 95% of people do not take – in my experience this gives them a healthy sense of humour as they deal with the same comments year after year (“but how do they socialise?”!!!) as well as developing their resilience to prejudice.

My children are involved in a teaching co-op where several families with children of similar ages/abilities work together for a day every week to provide teaching in some subjects.  Practically this means we pay tutors for some teaching, allowing us to ensure our children receive quality education in every area of the curriculum, as well as studying subjects beyond the scope of many schools.  As parents we are inherently qualified to see that our children receive an “efficient and suitable” education through these various means – state interference through regulation or inspection would be intrusive, unnecessary and unwanted.

I have seen very little (read “no”) evidence of any improved local authority or central government support for home education as a result of the 2012 report.  It is very welcome when museums or points of interest provide “home educators rates” or “home educators days” but these always seem to be in privately funded enterprises.  Our libraries do not offer extended loan periods or larger borrowing quantities to home educators, and our swimming pools do not offer any subsidised lessons. 

Currently my daughter is studying for GCSEs/iGCSEs, and the biggest hurdle that faces us as home educators is finding an exam centre for her.  Some private schools accept applications from external candidates, but there is no support in terms of free or subsidised places in state schools for home educated children to sit exams.  It seems to me that this is largely because of the performance tables system – a school cannot assess how well or poorly an external candidate will perform, and they are afraid to jeopardise their results.  Our family pays (large sums of) tax, funding the education system for the children of others, and we do not cost the education system a penny.  It seems a great injustice that we also have to pay to sit exams which are provided free to every other student.  This is a very obvious opportunity for home educators to be supported by local and national government.  During the coronavirus pandemic, home educators have been treated very unfairly in this regard.  School students were able to gain a Centre Assessed Grade for their exams, but no provision has been made to allow home educated children to do the same.  Some estimates suggest there are 20,000 students in this position who have been unlawfully held back from progress.  And it would have been so easy to resolve.  We NEED action from the government to provide support in this area to prevent a repeat of this summer’s fiasco, otherwise our family will fall prey to what feels like institutional oversight of a minority group.

November 2020