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.]

5th of November, 2020

To Whom It May Concern:


We are writing concerning the call for evidence regarding elective home-education in the United Kingdom. We have three children [ages] Ever since meeting friends as an adult who were homeschooled and seeing the evidence in their lives of the strong grounding it gave them to grow up to be well rounded individuals who tend to show initiative, be good communicators with a wide range of people, and positive contributors to society, I [name] decided that I’d want to home-educate my children if ever I had any.


Having children is a choice that individuals make, and likewise we believe that it is therefore primarily the responsibility of those individuals to raise their children. This includes nurturing them in a way that helps them grow into physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy people, protecting them in a way that is sensitive to their vulnerabilities as children, and preparing them for adulthood in a way that ensures they have the skills necessary to function well in society and be a positive contribution to their communities. Education would fall into this latter category, and it should be first and foremost a parent’s responsibility to ensure their child receives the education they require with the support of the government, and not the other way around.


Whilst safeguarding children is a responsibility of the government, and a function that we are extremely grateful for, this is a role that need not act in contradiction to elective home-education, but rather in conjunction with it. No one is more familiar with a child’s holistic and individual needs than their parents, and most parents are the best ‘experts’ in meeting their children’s needs, including how to safeguard their children from the various dangers that face them in life. For example, we personally feel that our children are at greater risk by being at school all day with an adult to child ratio of 1:30, surrounded primarily by their peers as a primary influence on their lives and interacting with adults who we don’t personally know. I am much more likely to know what is going on in my child’s life when I am the primary one responsible for him throughout the day, and therefore am able to address any issues as they arise. On the one hand, home-educating parents are often labeled as being over protective of their children, and yet at the same time there seems to be this stigma that home-educating is a breeding ground for endangering children. It puts the majority of home-educating parents in an unfairly awkward position who, at great sacrifice to their own personal comfort, are doing their utmost to provide the very best education and upbringing for their children.


That being said, I do acknowledge that children face risks to their well being whatever their educational situation, and it's important that they have access to protection if their well-being is endangered. It's also important that children are being adequately prepared for their future. However, I think it's crucially important that both of these factors do not allow the rights of parents to be infringed upon to educate their children as they see fit, within reason. One of the benefits of home-education is that it is not one-size fits all, and ultimately that is a great advantage to children's growth in knowledge, as well as self-confidence. For example, our son, who is [age], excels at reading. It's his strength and we encourage him in it by providing quality books at home for him to read by himself, and together as a family. However, he struggles to memorise his sums. In state school, his teacher would have moved onto more difficult concepts, but we are able to keep going over it with him until he gets it. Since we believe this skill is essential to his future, it's worth the time investment, even if it means he's not on track with his peers at the moment. In a state system he might be deemed as ‘behind’ and grow disheartened, but at home, we can teach in line with his ability and there is no cause for him to feel discouraged.


We have no objection to the government ensuring that our children's needs are not being neglected, because we want other children to be protected. However, home education should not be evaluated in the same light as the education system that the government offers on a mass level, because the two are very different things. We think the utmost care needs to be given in order to not add more stress or strain to what is already a very difficult job for home-educating parents.


Instead of mainly considering how to better monitor home-educators in the UK, it would be helpful if more focus could be put on supporting parents who are working incredibly hard to fulfil the role of educating their own children. This could include everything from more government supported home-ed classes being run in communities during the school day for home-ed children, to tax breaks that go towards educational costs, to training for parents who want to home-educate or are already home-educating. Also, the mass move of education online due to covid-19 has shown how useful internet resources can be for home-educating parents. The provision of special rules for home-educated children has been much appreciated during the pandemic, yet more could be done to ensure that access to classes, which are often a main means of socialisation for home-ed children, are not prohibited as they often form an essential part of the child’s education.


Finally, home-education has a lot to offer society in the UK. It should not be viewed with suspicion as a threat to the well-being of children and society at large, but rather as an asset to the community when parents are wanting and able to provide a well-rounded education that meets the individual needs of their children and establishes a strong family connection that supports them for a lifetime.






November 2020