[Note: This evidence has been redacted by the Committee. Text in square brackets has been inserted where text has been redacted.]

Written evidence submitted by [member of the public]

Call for evidence: Education Committee Review - Elective Home Education

I am a home educating parent, and I am submitting evidence in order to give my opinions on the points requested by the committee.  I have almost twenty years’ experience of working within the primary, secondary, and higher education sectors.

  1. The duties of local authorities with regards to home education, including safeguarding and assuring the quality of home education.

According to the Education Act 1996 (Section 7), parents are responsible for the education of their children by attendance at school or otherwise. Therefore, it is up to me as the parent to ensure how my child/ren receives their appropriate education.  A written report from the parent should still suffice, as is current practice, to provide the assurance to the Local Authority (LA) that a suitable home education is taking place. 

It is not the responsibility of the LA to monitor my child’s education, they should only check that a suitable education is taking place, their duties should continue under Section 437 of the Education Act.  For a LA and safeguarding, they can already take action under Section 47 of the Children Act whereby they can take action only when they have "reasonable cause to suspect that a child who lives, or is found, in their area is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm" .

Many LA already overstep their monitoring remit, often in the initial letter to a newly de-registered families, asking for evidence of a child’s work and attempting to frequently meet up with the family in person.  If anything the LA should direct the newly registered family to the official guidelines, any local groups, and then contact them at a later date for an educational report, to allow the family to develop their own learning routine suitable to their own individual needs.  Home education means that the subject, learning level and method / philosophy of learning are bespoke and tailored to each child.  A report from the parent, the person who holds the responsibility, giving such information should still suffice the Local Authority’s duty under Section 437 of the Education Act.

Too much oversight and monitoring, especially in my own child’s case, would lead to frustration and lack of confidence in their own abilities.  It creates the pressures that are present in school in which the child has already struggled with.  Instead of being able to set and meet their own goals there would be the need to meet someone else’s requirements which would not have the individual needs as a priority and would hinder learning and again cause unnecessary anxiety and impact on their mental health.  

  1. Whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required;

A statutory register of home education children is not required, a register calls for government oversight.  Home Education is the responsibility of the parent and does not require government oversight.   The UNCRC states that “Governments must do all they can to make sure that every child can enjoy their rights by creating systems and passing laws that promote and protect children’s rights” and I strongly believe that an introduction of a statutory register would contravene the rights of my children, and other home educated children alike, would be discriminatory, and neither would it provide protection for vulnerable children. 

  1. The benefits children gain from home education, and the potential disadvantages they may face;

Home Education can benefit many children.  My eldest child attended school for one full academic year where they were subject to bullying by peers which led to anxiety and other mental health issues. Additionally, they developed a concerning lack of confidence in their own academic abilities which had not been present prior to school where they had attended full time nursery from being a few months old.  I voiced my concerns several times with the school, but the issues were never resolved and after researching the option of Elective Home Education I consequently deregistered my child. My child now has been able to heal mentally and over time has regained confidence in their own learning abilities. As a home educating parent, the best interests of my children are my primary consideration.

I can think of no disadvantages of home education, other than we are constantly having to fight for our own rights to protect our ability to do so.  There are many children where the school system does not work for them, but they flourish under home education.  They can follow their own interests at their own pace, they get to socialise with different people of different ages, as well as peers of their own age.  The process can also be as expensive or inexpensive as the family chooses  

The only potential disadvantage is when a child is off-rolled rather than if the de-registration is optional, as the parents may not be aware of support or prepared to educate at home themselves, however off-rolling should be addressed with the educational establishments in question, and not be used against home educators.

  1. The quality and accessibility of support (including financial support) available for home educators and their children, including those with special educational needs, disabilities, mental health issues, or caring responsibilities, and those making the transition to further and higher education;

Regardless of how they are educated, there are already known vulnerable children who are not getting the help they need due to overloaded and underfunded systems such as CAMHS and Social Services.  Home Education should only receive the same support, such as CAMHS, equal to those who are in school.

  1. Whether the current regulatory framework is sufficient to ensure that the wellbeing and academic achievement of home educated children is safeguarded, including where they may attend unregistered schools, have been formally excluded from school, or have been subject to ‘off-rolling’;

There is sufficient regulatory framework under Section 437 of the Education Act as it states that "If it appears to a local authority that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, they shall serve a notice in writing on the parent requiring him to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is receiving such education."  If they attend an unregistered school, have been excluded or suspected of off-rolling then this should be addressed with the establishments in question, it is not home education.

  1. The role that inspection should play in future regulation of home education;

Inspection is required so that educational establishments can show that they are fulfilling their own duties on behalf of the parents or that funding is used correctly under financial obligations.  I do not believe inspection should play a role in future regulation of home education.  The LA already have the remit to check that a suitable education is taking place, as per their duties under Section 437 of the Education Act, no further inspection is needed.  Additionally, my Children have the right to privacy and as a home educating family we have the right to protect our privacy, family life and our home (Human Rights Act; UNCRC). Having a LA Officer or an inspection officer attempt to interview my children in our own family home would be intrusive and distressing for them.

  1. What improvements have been made to support home educators since the 2010-15 Education Committee published their report on ‘Support for Home Education’ in 2012;

I personally am not aware of any improvements.  Relationships with Local Authorities vary with some using best practice and others operating ultra vires.  It varies depending on the LA’s own agenda as well the so-called professionals who can offer support or can be biased towards home education.  I resided in an area that had two officers who worked well with the local home educating community, this changed once they left their posts and the new officers changed procedures, attempting to increase frequency of meetings and asking for physical evidence of work at initial meets when it was not necessary to do so.

  1. The impact COVID-19 has had on home educated children, and what additional measures might need to be taken in order to mitigate any negative impacts.’

COVID-19 has impacted home educated children in the same way it has impacted school children; their learning continues but in a different form, often online rather than face to face.  Some activities have managed to continue depending on the lock down levels, such as swimming lessons.  The closure of museums, libraries, and community centres etc has had a great impact on whole communities, not just home educators.  Home educators can meet up, under COVID safe guidance to carry out educational activities.  If there is support for the nation on the negative impacts of the virus then the facilities are/will be available, but there is no requirement for any specific additional measures for home educators only.


[academic qualification]

28th October 2020


January 2021