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.]




I removed my son from high school due to him being poorly and being unable to work with the school through this. I removed my daughter, [number] months later, as she was unhappy in the school environment and not thriving and home education was working so well for my son – so we decided it was much more suitable for both to benefit from the freedom of home education -  to allow them to enjoy learning again - something school sadly had taken away from them. I have never looked back and I hope that all parents will continue to enjoy their lawful right to educate their children in a way that they feel appropriate and not be bullied back into the standard ‘one size fits all’ archaic system of education that is provided in UK schools today.


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


My understanding of the law is that local authorities’ duties are to establish that an education is taking place; one that is suitable and appropriate for the age, aptitude and ability of the child - something an individual in the Local Authority is unable to do, as they do not know the individual child. This is logically why the parents are best placed to assess and assure. Therefore, determining if the education being provided to the individual child is a parental responsibility, by law.  The quality of education being provided is not in the local authority’s remit - home education is successfully delivered in a variety of ways, there is no one standard, each child is an individual and learns in different ways. That is the joy of home education, tailoring it towards the child. Similarly by law, any safeguarding concerns should be dealt with as with any child, in or out of school, and action taken only when reasonable cause to suspect suffering or harm is found.

Home Education is not a cause for suspecting a child of being subjected to abuse and there are no cases, as I am aware, that any child has had harm come upon them through being ‘home educated’ that was not already known to the authorities or flagged as ‘at risk’ prior to being removed from school.

Pre school children are not automatically regarded as at risk of harm from their parents, yet Home Educating families find themselves automatically under suspicion of abusing their children just by exercising their lawful right and responsibility to provide their children with an education outside of school.


Whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required:


Statutory registers, in most people’s eyes, are for professions or wrong-doers, such as sex offenders, and should only be used for such things. Singling out home education as a form of education requiring a statutory register - based solely on a parents lawful choice on how to educate their child - is discriminatory. It portrays the image that these are people that need to be kept an eye on - it is stigmatising.

Children who have been registered at school and then removed to home educate are already reported to the local authorities by the school, upon deregistration, and are contacted accordingly.


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


The benefits of home education are that children can learn in a variety of ways, in a variety of settings and have more freedom to think outside of the box, which they are limited to in school. Children have more opportunity to travel and see and experience things that they learn about. They can go off on a tangent and explore and be inquisitive - much more so than in a school environment. They can be happier, more independent, more inventive and self motivated. They are individuals, they can be themselves! The parents can use the child’s interests and passions, alongside their ability and aptitude to tailor their education - no school or local authority representative can do this. Children can socialise with a mix of age groups, instead of just their peers, which develops their communication skills and improves their confidence. This has certainly been my experience and that of many other home educators I know.

The disadvantages they may face are the stigma attached to being out of school, a feeling of wrong-doing by having to satisfy the local authority or face consequences and knowing their parents have to defend their lawful choice by responding to consultations.


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:


There is no government support - people who choose to home educate know this and have chosen to take responsibility for their child’s education with this in mind. The EHE Officer at the time of me removing my son told me I was ‘on my own’ financially and otherwise. However, there is an abundance of fantastic support from the home education communities, nationwide, on learning resources, home education events & exam access etc.


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’:


The current framework for home education is sufficient in 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’ Unregistered schools, exclusions and off-rolling are not related to home education by choice. They are problems that need to be investigated and dealt with as completely separate issues, unrelated to lawful choice to home educate. There are many educational issues surrounding schools that require investigation and they should not be confused with and associated with home education.


The role that inspection should play in future regulation of home education:


Inspections are not a requirement for home education and home education does not require ‘regulation’.

It is a lawful right to educate your child outside of a school setting. School inspections are required as society provides the schooling via taxes and so the investment has to be justified.


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:


There have been no improvements to support home educators that I have experienced. What I have experienced is an increase in pressure from the local authority to justify our legal choice and an ‘over-stepping’ of the boundaries of their remit, by requesting information they are not required to request. There are instances of bullying tactics with new home educators - attempting to force them to attend meetings and discussions they are not required to attend and unlawful action by refusing to accept deregistration letters until these meetings take place. It appears that the law is not being followed and that, indeed, the local authority often seem unaware of the actual law surrounding home education and have brought in guidelines to follow and constantly change their approach to their interaction with home educators and not always lawfully.


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 affected everyone, adults and children. Home educated children have been less affected, I would say, than schooled children - as they have been able to continue to learn with less disruption to their normal routine, other than not being able to attend events, workshops etc - just like everybody else in the UK. I fail to see how the impact to home educated children is deemed the need to be dealt with separately to all other people and how any negative impacts can be mitigated by government.


November 2020