Written evidence submitted by Catherine Forster

I am the mother of a young child and we are just starting out on our home education journeyI personally was not home educated. I started school at 5 and stayed in the education system until completing my Degree at 21.  But I believe that, right now, home education will give my child the best opportunity to thrive.  My child has just turned three so we have not started any formal home education and do not plan to for a couple of years but I want our voice to be counted.  I am happy to register as a home educator and to have inspections.  I intend to keep detailed record of topics we cover in our home education, activities that we do and relevant day trips or outings we take. 

Home education will allow us the flexibility to better cater to our child’s needs. There are many types of intelligence and many ways to learnIf my child is struggling on a particular subject, we can take a break from that subject, tackle it from a different angle and at their own pace rather than the pace of the class.  Rather than moving onto the next one and risking them falling behind, or becoming uninterested in the subject, or believing they are incapable of learning itSimilarly, if something is particularly exciting or interesting, we can deep dive into the subject rather than skimming the surface in order to learn specific facts to pass a specific exam, allowing them to develop a passion. A classroom setting would not allow for this.  In short, I want my child to be able to learn at their own pace, in a way that suits them. I want my child to have the opportunity to explore all and any of the subjects that interest them, to known that the arts are just as important as the sciences and that subjects such as maths and physics can be learnt side by side. 

There are many aspects of school education that I am uncomfortable with. I have concerns about things such as class sizes, unnecessary homework and examinations and shame-based discipline to name a few.  For example, I want my child to have body autonomy - going to the toilet, eating and drinking and taking breaks when they need to.  Even wearing whatever they feel comfortable in that day.  School does not allow for this.  There is also a lack of opportunity play.  There is so much evidence of how important play is for children’s learning and research has shown that children may benefit from delayed academics – until children are 7 - yet once a child reaches 5 and they start school the focus shifts too formal learning, hitting targets and play takes a back seat.  Home education allows for more opportunities for play to be the focus of a child’s learning. 

Another important part of home education for us is time spent out of doors.  Research has shown again and again that children (and adults) benefit from time outdoors in nature.  It is important for both physical and mental health.  A recent report by Natural England found that 83% of child said being in nature made them very happy and 44% of children wanted to spend more time outdoors at school.  Home education allows us to spend more time out of doors than a school education would and provides so many opportunities for learning.  We are fortunate enough to have an allotment where we grow fruit, vegetables and flowers, hunt for minibeasts, frogs and small mammals, watch birds, see lifecycles in action.  These are all enriching experiences for my child.

Government guidance on Home Education states “that education can be considered efficient and suitable if it enables children to achieve their potential and prepares them for adult life as independent citizens, within or beyond the community in which they were raised.”  What better way for a child to achieve this is by experiencing everyday life.  Trips to the shops, the post office, the library, etc will help them to develop many of the skills needed for daily adult life.  Home education has no set curriculum which means there is more opportunity to learn about current events as they are happening.  For example, the environmental crisis, the Black Lives Matter Movement, the Covid-19 crisis, all things that are happening right now that will shape our history and our children’s futures.  Learning about these things in real time, in an age appropriate way, will give my child a better understanding of their place in the world and how they can help shape it. 


The personal impact on us of Covid-19 includes the closures of our local library and the cancellation of groups and classes that we attend.  Weekly visits to the library are a big part of our routine.  My child enjoys picking books and checking them out by themselves.  It also provides a great opportunity to interact with the staff and other members of the public.  My child loves books so it is something that they really look forwards too and really missed during lockdown. The library is an invaluable source for us in home schooling as it provides thousands of books for free Some of the cancelled classes were done online during lockdown, but my child did not enjoy them as it was a completely different experience.  For example, a music class where usually, the children can play with a variety of instruments themselves vs. watching someone on a screen singing. Likewise, not being able to go to the shops and post office have also had an impact.  Obviously, these closures and cancellations have been totally necessary but my child has missed the social interactions all of these things can offer. 

In summary. I believe home education gives children more opportunity to be children. It will give them more time for play and the flexibility to learn in a way that suits them and at their own pace.  It will give them more social interactions in the real world, allows them to understand their place in an everchanging world and grow in to curious, socially conscious, passionate individuals. 


November 2020