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.]

My background: I have a doctorate in Clinical psychology and therefore have read numerous theories and studies of cognitive development and learning in children. My professional background has also  enabled me to develop a greater understanding of emotional development and well-being and the factors that impact on this. It is this knowledge and experience as well as my dissatisfaction with the current education system that triggered my decision to home educate my children. I am currently home educating two of my children aged [number] years and [number] years.

I have responded to some of the enquiries points below.

  1. With regards to the duties of local authorities to home education my experience has unfortunately been difficult. The local authorities are supposed to offer support to families but they do not really have anything to offer at all. For example, offering rooms in Local Authority buildings (e.g., libraries, leisure centres) for home educating families to use for educational purposes would be useful. However, they are not able to offer this and we have to pay. I have also found that the Elective Home Education Officer for the local authority has limited understanding of what her role actually is and fails to understand the law or data protection legislation. For instance, she continuously tries to ask for meetings and information which is not within her remit. I think the local authorities need to be clear about what their duties are and offer more practical support to home educating families.

I wonder if local authorities could benefit from training from home educators. Many have no experience of what home education is and are taking this on as an additional role. For instance, many work with children missing from education which are a completely different population. Home educated children have very involved and motivated parents who have their children’s learning and well-being as central to their lives. The local authorities often approach home educators in a critical and autocratic manner. This isn’t appropriate and does not foster good relations. Attempts to coerce home educators to meet with them (which home educators are not obliged to do) with the threat of referrals to children’s services is unethical. This is a frequent occurrence and I have been subject to this.


  1. There are numerous benefits to home education. Children receive an education tailored to their own learning style, abilities and interests. They receive more one to one adult support in their learning. Their emotional wellbeing is considered and noticed by their parent. Their strengths can be focused on rather than highlighting their weaknesses. They learn and socialise with a range of peers of different ages rather than being with the same group of same aged peers every single day. They have many ‘teachers’ as they are out in the community most days meeting other parents and adults rather than just the same teacher every day. They have more opportunity for learning outside of one room (i.e., classroom) as they are out taking trips and visiting places within the community most days. Their education is much broader and practical than that offered in schools.


  1. Attempts to inspect and measure home education would have to be done with caution. You can’t attempt to measure or compare home educated children. They are all different and are learning differently. They have different skills and knowledge. Attempting to use a generic test or criteria would not be appropriate. Checking for happiness and good mental health is more important to me. As a clinical psychologist the number of children suffering with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues in schools is concerning. Being tested and under pressure to perform well exacerbates these issues. It would be unfair to subject home educated children to these pressures and testing. Parents, like me, often choose home education to avoid this unnecessary testing and pressure on our children.


  1. The impact of covid-19 restrictions on our children have been much the same as the rest of the population. Groups they usually would have attended were stopped and socialising was not allowed. Since restrictions were lifted most of the activities and social meets my children accessed have opened again. I was pleased that the current covid-19 guidance recognised home educated children and enabled groups they attend to continue running through the national lockdown.