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.]


Submission from [name]


We have been home educating our [age son since[time]. His experience with school from[time] was miserable, and greatly exacerbated by out-of-school bullying during much of [year]. He was in the independent sector in [place] until the end of [time]. We moved out of [place and date] and registered him [time] at the local state school in [place]. We deregistered him [time]. We now engage two private tutors.


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


Local authorities should have a role to monitor the provision of education to children, whether at school or in the home. Home education should not be seen as a way to by-pass the education system entirely.


However, the approach that local authorities take can differ widely and some families are very nervous about any contact with ‘the system’.


Our experience with [place] local authority has been positive. We engaged with them at the outset and explained what we hoped to provide by way of a home education programme. They made a home visit in [time]. We do not expect any further visits from them. They have offered their support if we need it.


Whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required


In my view there should be a record of where children are so that children do not ‘slip through the net’. I don’t think this is a view widely held amongst the home education community.


The problem with having a statutory register is making it mandatory for parents/carers to register and setting the consequences for failure to register – and if there are no consequences, then why make it mandatory. Financial penalties are not the answer.


Getting information from other sources within a local authority, such as social services, also raises a myriad of issues, in addition to data protection concerns. Many home-educated families are hugely resistant to any sharing of information between agencies.


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


Our son is much more engaged with his learning than he has been at any time since we decided to remove him from the education system [time]. We have been able to tailor his days to suit him – so no early morning starts (which do not work for the body-clock of many teenagers) and he has more focussed sessions.


Although he may not study for the equivalent (in hours) of a ‘normal’ school week his attention is focussed and the quality of his input and output is very good. He does a reduced curriculum, with two History modules (Ancient and Modern), two English modules (Language and Literature) and maths. Our aim is for him to achieve GCSEs in each of these subjects and to develop an interest in learning. He is currently showing a real interest in Ancient History, which is not something we would necessarily have discovered in a school setting. He complements his history studies with trips to local sites/Roman ruins and museums.


He and we can then decide what he wants to do post-GCSEs. He is currently talking about doing two A levels. We need to find a way for him to achieve what he wants to do later in life and get the qualifications he needs to do this. We want him to achieve his full potential in whatever area that may be.


Having one-to-one tuition enables him to work at his own pace and ask questions and seek clarification along the way. This enables him to make real progress and bed down his existing knowledge, rather than just working through the subject topics week by week ‘because that’s what we always do and that’s what the timetable requires’. He can ask questions whenever he wants without feeling foolish or embarrassed. As a result, he has shown a much more enquiring mind than was evident when he was in a school setting. He is not a particularly shy individual, but he does not like to get things wrong and would not volunteer to answer a question in a classroom if there was a risk that he would not have the right answer. He has individual attention for the entire tutored session; in a school setting the teacher’s attention is inevitably spread across the entire class cohort.


Home education has enabled him to be actively involved in choosing the topics he wants to study and agree with his tutor which set texts he will cover in his English Literature;  as a result he is far more engaged in his learning as he feels more in control of what he is doing. Home education enables him to learn in a variety of ways, including through theatre trips and  watching films, documentaries and YouTube clips as part of normal lesson time, as well as studying the texts themselves. His tutor is also able to be more flexible and swap between subjects if his attention is flagging.


He has developed a very strong bond with one of his tutors, who now also plays a pastoral role in our son’s life. He will ask him for advice and discuss things with him that he may not want to talk to his parents about. We have established a clear rule that their conversations remain confidential, unless there are safeguarding issues.


Finding the right tutors and getting the personal chemistry right has been one of the greater challenges we, as parents, have faced. If you are spending four hours a day with someone it is important you get on with them – it is not enough to just be a good teacher or have years of experience. In a classroom setting you have no choice as to which teacher you get. That is very different when you have a determined teenager who has clear views of his own.


There are of course drawbacks: lack of social interaction with peers at school (although his experience of peer friendships over the years has been very mixed); lack of organised sport (although again he is more of an individual sport player than a team player and prefers snowboarding and BMX to rugby or cricket); and fewer groups for home-educated teenagers, unless they have been home educated since their early years and have developed friendships from pre-school groups.


He also follows a much narrower organised curriculum than he would in a school setting. However, in our view, he will achieve more by studying, and sitting exams for, a smaller range of subjects than following the usual pattern of taking eight or more GCSEs. His broader education can be developed outside the ‘home education’ setting.



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 had less of an impact on his academic studies than for children in a school setting. We were able to continue with COVID-secure face-to-face tuition for some of the time; when the regulations restricted this, we moved to online tuition.


Travel restrictions limited the ability to visit historic sites during the first lockdown. Two archaeological digs he was registered for, and a family trip to join in chalking the White Horse, were cancelled because of the pandemic, although he did join a Zoom presentation given on one of the dig sites. Hopefully these events will be possible in 2021.


Inevitably the mental health of home-educated children will have been affected by the pandemic. Even if (as in our case) their home life has not changed dramatically and they are still seeing their tutors, they are very much aware of what is happening in the wider community and the impact that COVID-19 is having on people’s families, jobs and communities. Through social media they know how their school-educated friends are managing. It is impossible to tell whether they have been more or less affected, but they will have been affected.


We will be interested to see what accommodations will be made by the Department of Education for students sitting GCSEs in summer 2021.




November 2020