Written evidence submitted by The European Academy for Christian Homeschooling

Executive Summary

1     Home education has multiple benefits, including close family relationships, multi-generational socialisation and good academic results; the main disadvantage is the intolerance faced for being different.

2     The existing Guidelines are working well and do not need to be changed; although local authorities may need to take better note of them.

3     There is no proposal for a register that would counteract the inevitable bureaucratic drift that would see it morph from a simple list of home educators into a licence or permission to home educate, thus destroying the freedom to home educate that we currently have. After all, what is wrong with freedom?

4     Inspection (other than for literacy and numeracy) would face insurmountable problems; not least in defining suitable.

5     Unrecognised schools, school exclusion and ‘off-rolling’ are not relevant to home education and have no part in this inquiry. It should also be accepted that there is no safeguarding issue with home education.

6     As well as the support TEACH offers, there are an abundance of other home education support groups, organisations and online forums to support home educating families. Local authority support should always be voluntary, not imposed.

7    Children taught at home because the schools have closed constitute Pandemic Education, not home education; the two are distinct and should not be confused. Any impact of Covid-19 on home educators has been relatively minor, apart from the closure of TEACH local groups, the cancellation of TEACH camp, and the cancelling of the European Student Convention.




1              The European Academy for Christian Homeschooling (TEACH) began nearly 25 years ago as a support organisation for those families home educating using the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) curriculum (which is used in over 130 countries worldwide), and has a current membership of nearly 800 families, mostly in the UK, but some in Europe, and UK expatriate members in other countries. It provides


2             Regarding the benefits and possible disadvantages of home education. The benefits are considerable; to begin with it generates a closeness in family life that is beneficial to the children in terms of good relationships with their parents as well as emotional security.

There are also wider social advantages; children learn to socialise with all kinds and ages of people, avoiding the generational and social stratification inevitable in modern schooling. They are therefore able, as adults, to mix with a wide range of people. It is true they miss out on the ‘school-type peer group socialisation’ they would get in school, but we would consider this to be yet another advantage of home education. They also do not face the problems of peer pressure when they are young and vulnerable. It is important here to try and dispel (yet again) the myth that home educated children are isolated. This is never the case. Children can and do meet with neighbours and their children, as well as with relatives and their children and friends and their children and people at church and their children, as well as with other home educating families and their children at local TEACH groups. They can also socialise with children and leaders in various clubs (youth groups, music club, swimming club, sports club, etc.) open to all children.

One of the more striking aspects of home education over the last few years is the consistent testimony (in several social media sites) of those who have taken the step of home educating that their children’s wellbeing and happiness often dramatically improves. There are occasional references in the media to the mental health problems of young people, but the young people concerned are in school; there is no evidence of significant mental health problems amongst home educating families, and I would surmise that the level of such problems is lower amongst home educated young people compared to those in school.

The foundation of education is literacy and numeracy (acknowledged in the Governments Key Stage 1 and 2). There is considerable evidence ( Home-Education: Aims, Practices and Outcomes, Paula Rothermel, University of Durham, 2002; www.home-education.org.uk/articles/wc/wc-he-outcomes.pdf   and the associated references ) that home educated children do well academically and, interestingly, there does not appear to be the same gender disparity found in the state system. As regards the basics of education (literacy and numeracy), the ACE programme uses workbooks, so any child on the programme is fully literate; there is also a thorough grounding in basic mathematics, including mental arithmetic. The website of the International Certificate of Christian Education contains accounts of student outcomes for those on the ACE programme who take that qualification. The evidence suggests that students who use ACE have an excellent academic outcome.

Disadvantages are few. There is obviously a financial cost as one parent is supervising the education and not earning, so families cannot have the fancy second car or two overseas holidays a year, and in some cases need to be very careful financially. The children (and the families) are still often viewed as different’, and also, given the vaguely hostile reporting in the media there is some suspicion from new acquaintance; fortunately, we found that this does not long survive exposure to home educating families.


3        Regarding the duties of local authorities. Local authorities clearly have a duty to ensure that the schools in their area provide an adequate education; although it would seem from Ofsted reports mentioned in the media that this is not always the case. Whether they have the same duties towards home educating children is not so clear. To begin with, in this country children’s education (not just home educated children) is the responsibility of the parents as per the Education Act 1996 sect 7; it would be reasonable to argue that parents who educate their children themselves rather than delegating it to a school are the ones responsible for the education given. Further, home educators are an exceedingly heterogenous group from very structured (almost ‘doing school at home’) to autonomous learninga variety which is what you would expect when parents begin to take their legal responsibilities seriously. This wide variety of educational practices would require a superhuman degree of wisdom on the part of anyone seeking to assure the quality of home education. I have previously referred to the available evidence which confirms that home educating children do well academically – perhaps even better that children in state schools, which would call into question whether local authority assurance is required.

We find it vaguely annoying that, yet again, the old, hoary nonsense about ‘safeguardingis raised. There is no evidence that there are any safeguarding issues with home educated children, certainly not compared to the safeguarding issues in schools, with reports seen in the press regarding bullying, abuse, peer pressure, etc. To raise the issue is little more than scaremongering.

In TEACH we have had, on occasion a few years ago (for example, to Kent in 2005 and Birmingham in 2006) found it necessary to write to local authorities to remind them of the limits of their authority.

Some years ago, relationships between home educators and local authorities were codified in Guidelines; I see no reason to change them and they would seem to be the most fruitful basis for interaction between home educators and local authorities.


4      Regarding a statutory register. The main objection to a statutory register lies in the psychology of officaildom. What is presented as (and may even be meant as) a simple list of families known to be home educating will, in the minds of the officials, morph into a register of those permitted or licensed to home educate; with ever stricter criteria. Furthermore, social media sites (e.g. Home Education and your local authority: help with dealing with officialdom; The HE Byte; HE UK Parliamentary and Media Monitoring actions) report a steady stream of problems arising form local authorities already overstepping the mark, demanding what is not required and generally acting ultra vires. A register would, I suspect, be an irresistible temptation for local authorities to become more and more intrusive, and create the opportunity for them to introduce restrictive, if not discriminatory, regulations concerning style and content and a mandatory curriculum for home educators.

However, we would acknowledge that more and more local authorities have made a real effort to engage and understand home education and home educators and develop constructive relationships. It would be good if this approach could be more widely practiced.


4     Regarding the role of inspection. This requires clarification regarding the aim and extent of any inspection. There are two issues; firstly, how do you define ‘suitable education’, and secondly, how is any inspecting to be done.

Firstly, to define ‘suitable’ education is a fraught issue, and one that in a tolerant, liberal, multicultural society cannot be very prescriptive. We would argue that literacy (in this country including fluency in English) and numeracy should be the core and heart of a suitable education; if a child can read write and do sums then they are equipped for adult life and can learn whatever else they choose. Further, the curriculum ought to enable the child to live an independent adult life in whichever subculture of society they are in - secular, Jewish, Christian, atheistic, Moslem or any others. Literacy is essential as it enables an individual to move between the subcultures if so wished.

The content of the rest of the curriculum may well vary between groups; for example, Muslims may well have a focus on the Koran, Christians (including TEACH families) will have an emphasis on Biblical teaching and secularists will (presumably) have neither. Other subjects (history, geography, science, literature etc) may also be approached in different ways in different curricula, and it would be illiberal for local authorities or others to insist on all home educators having to conform to an ideologically specific curriculum. The question becomes ‘suitable for whom?’ and there is no one-size-fits-all curriculum.

Secondly, inspection raises several other questions. To begin with, there are the practical considerations. It has been suggested that inspection should be done by Ofsted; however, this would require an enormous number of new inspectors, who would need training. For one problem facing local authority home education officials is that they are often unaware of the range of home educating styles and the variety of curricula used by home educators. As a consequence, there may well be procedures and curricula used by some home educators that may not find favour with some local authorities or their officials. We are aware, for example, that there are those who view the ACE curriculum and procedures with disfavour; the prospect of inspectors with that view being tasked to inspect ACE families is disconcerting. Inspection by officials raises the risk of a rigid enforcement of a particular ideology on home educators. They are an heterogenous group and it would require miraculous abilities for local authority officials to honestly and fairly monitor the diversity; from structured to autonomous learning, pagan to Jewish to Moslem to Christian to secular: nor is it the responsibility of the LAs to enforce or insist upon a particular style or content.

In summary, light touch monitoring regarding the core elements of literacy and maths would be reasonable and defensible, but intrusive inspections or monitoring risk causing problems.


5     Regarding the regulatory framework. The first thing to say would be that to include unregistered schools, off-rolling and school exclusion in this inquiry is grossly inappropriate. These three issues are those of failing schools and have no relevance to home education. Nothing more needs to be said about these issues.

As mentioned before, there is no evidence that the wellbeing of home educated children is at risk, rather there is anecdotal evidence in social media that children’s wellbeing is improved by home education. Regarding academic achievement we would refer you to the previously mentioned evidence base, which would indicate that there are no substantial concerns.

We consider that the current regulatory framework is working well. There is a set of agreed Guidelines published a number of years ago which is sufficient. There has been a deal of Government inquiries/consultations regarding home education over the last decade or so, and looking back at the results it would seem that all options have been exhaustively considered and that the current system is workable and should not be needlessly meddled with (in other words, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it).

Finally, there seems to be a general feeling that the current freedom to home educate with the corresponding light regulation of home education is in itself a problem, which raises the question: what is wrong with freedom?


6      Regarding support. There is currently no financial support for home educators, which is a reasonable position. In any case, financial independence is usually a necessary basis for independence in other spheres, including education.

Those children with disabilities and mental health issues such as autism and ADHD are really the concern of their families and medicine rather than education, and one would expect any support to come from medical rather than educational authorities.

TEACH offers academic and legal support and pastoral support is available through the network of local groups. Help is available from the TEACH office and there are some experienced home educators available to help with administrative or academic problems. TEACH is also looking to build up a body of more experienced TEACH (ex)members with particular expertise who are willing to answer academic issues via the website. There are also many other local home educating groups which give a lot of support, as well as a number of social media sites also offering support and advice. These are where home educating families will look first for support. Support from local authorities may be available but it is not always going to be taken, and any support package must be voluntary with no criticism of those who do not use it.


7       The impact of Covid-19. The most important point to make is that, whilst the schools were closed and the children stayed at home, this was pandemic education, NOT home education. However, one impact of Covid-19 on home education was that our home education groups were closed due to the government restrictions, although the home education continued unchanged. It ought to be mentioned that, for non-TEACH students, there was the problems with the examination grades of home educated students who were going to take GCSEs and A levels in 2020 who were effectively ignored.

Having said that, one other possible impact is that the enforced closure of schools has opened the eyes of a number of parents to not only the possibility of home education, but also the benefits that it brings. It would seem unnecessary to consider any measures to mitigate something which has had such a slight impact.


John Allen MB BS FRCS, consultant to CEE?TEACH

Robert Hargreaves, Director – CEE Ltd, BSc. (Hons), FIMechE, CEng, FCQI, CQP

November 2020