Written evidence submitted by Mrs Eleanor Morrell




Home education is not a single entity, it is diverse, multifaceted, a collection of individuals families who are drawn together by their desire to provide the best possible education for their children.  A group as diverse as you can get in reasons for home educating, occupations, lifestyle, faiths and cultures.  Diverse in ways that they wish to home educate, the specific or additional needs of individual children and the stage of their education journey.  Home education is a legal right of parents and therefore any guidance to local authorities should always seek to reflect that legal position.  


My husband and I home educate our three children and have home educated for the last 8 years.  We have had the opportunity to meet many other home educating families on our journey and seen time and again the benefits for families and individuals in being able to make the choice of home educating for whatever reasons or situation behind the decision.  I am submitting evidence because I feel it is important that the rights of parents to make the choice to home educate and how they wish to do this should be protected and supported.


Duties of local authorities and a statutory register


Any legislation needs to balance the duty of local authorities to protect and safeguard children and young people with the rights of parents to make decisions regarding their child's/children's education.  There is already the legislation in place to allow local authorities to intervene where they feel there is an inadequate education being provided or if there are safeguarding concerns.  A statutory register therefore seems unnecessary and is unlikely to promote positive relationships between local authorities and home educating families.


Benefits of home education and the role of future regulation


There are many ways to receive an education, school is one of them, but not the only way.  Home education is a rich and fulfilling education, equipping individuals with all sorts of skills for life, future study and work.  There is freedom to follow individual interests, cover different topics, teach in learning styles to suit your individual child, accommodate medical needs or SEN and to progress at a pace that suitable for the individual.  Unschooling, semi-structured, project based learning.  There are trips, local groups, activities and online learning and connections that can all contribute to a rounded education, developing self directed learners well equipped with the skills needed for work or further study.  


Current guidance allows local authorities to engage with families where there is a concern that the education that is being provided is not adequate.  There is no need for further inspection.  Each home education journey (we are potentially talking age 4 to 16 or 18) is different and will look different at different stages.  Home education is not school and to use the benchmarks used in schools at various stages to assess children's performance is totally inappropriate.  For example, in home education a child might learn to read at 4, 6, 8 or 10 with no difference in their outcome at say 16.  This diversity would make inspections impractical and unworkable as well as stressful and negative experiences for the parents and family.  Although children who learn skills later in school statistically continue to perform at a lower level, this is a product of the schooling system with whole year teaching approaches.  This does not translate to the home education setting where there is flexibility to learn things at different times.  There is no evidence to suggest that further involvement of the local authority is needed for electively home educated children, other than that which is already provided for in current legislation.  Further inspection is an unwelcome intrusion into family life and parents' freedom of choices.


SEN Support and transition to further or higher education


Whilst I have no personal experience of dealing with SEN issues with regards to home education, I know many families who have faced difficult and costly decisions with regards to the education of their children with SEN.  Both home educated and school educated families have struggled to access the support they need to give their children the right to a suitable education.  This is a huge issue that is constantly being swept under the carpet, whilst parents are struggling to do the best they can without the government support they should be entitled too.  SEN support both for schools and home educators needs significant investment. 


With regards to general financial support of home education, it would be brilliant to see the option of exam fee grants or help with exam centres to ensure that all children can access these options.


Off-rolling, exclusions and COVID-19


The first COVID-19 lockdown threw home education into the UK spotlight and I think it was unfortunate that it was called home education, rather than distance supported learning or home based school learning, as it was not elective home education.  The second group is those children who are excluded from school, so called 'off rolling'.  Both these groups are school based learners and not electively home educated and it is an important distinction as the needs for these groups are very different.  


The media can unhelpfully report on linking home education with child abuse or children that are sat at home all day playing computer games as they have been excluded from school.  These are both separate issues that local authorities already have powers to deal with and should not be confused and co-opted with elective home education.


It is important that any government guidance for COVID-19 restrictions continue to recognise home education as a distinct and valid form of education and ensure that guidance or restrictions make allowances for home educated children.  Home education is often holistic and broad and does not neatly fall into 'bubbles' or curricular/extracurricular activities, many subjects are of equal value and so guidance should allow parents to make decisions about for example drama, music, maths, P.E. or english without having to follow a school based hierarchy of subjects.  The current guidance for the second lockdown has also failed to recognise the way home education works and that parents frequently meet together informally to learn together.  This is not recognised as forming part of a child's education in the current guidance and yet it has a long and successful history of use in home education in the UK.




Home education is a legal right for parents in the UK.  There is current legislation in place to protect children if there is a safeguarding issue or for local authority involvement if an education does not seem to be adequate.  Inspection regimes and mandatory registers will not enhance the relationship between home educated families and the local authorities.  It is likely to make it more difficult to locate or track any issues as vulnerable families and children are driven underground unlikely to seek preventative help or early intervention support due to a feeling of state regulatory control or fear of state powers.


November 2020