Written evidence submitted by Nathalie Huegler


Call for evidence – Parliamentary Inquiry on Home education

Group response based on a survey of home educating families in East London


A brief online survey was set up and shared on social media platforms used by home educating families in East London (with a focus on Waltham Forest and Hackney). This was formulated to allow home educating families to share their perspectives on the points of submission invited by the Parliamentary Inquiry. Members of these social media platforms were encouraged to prioritise making individual submissions if they could, but asked to participate in the survey if their time allowed, especially if they would otherwise not make any submission at all.

The survey was put together and results collated by Nathalie Huegler, a home educating parent in Waltham Forest. Due to limited capacity to undertake this work alongside many other commitments, particularly home education of own children and part time employment, the survey could only run for a limited number of days, from 1.11.2020 to 05.11.2020 (to allow for this submission to be and sent to the Inquiry before the deadline on 06.11.2020). With more time available, the survey may have had a wider reach and attracted more responses. The survey was in principle open to be completed by home educating parents/carers of both primary and secondary school aged children; those with children below compulsory education age who were planning to home educate; former home educators; children and young people who are home educated or were formerly home educated (based on parental consent where appropriate); and other family members of home educated children.

The survey invitation made clear that participation was entirely voluntary and gave the option for participants to withdraw before the Inquiry’s submission deadline. Responses were collected anonymously, but participants were given the option of adding their name to the submission or adding contact details if they wanted to be informed about any further outcomes after the closing of the survey / after submission of the response. Several participants chose the option to be contacted about updates but none (other than the submitting home educator) chose to add their names formally to the submission. Participants could skip any of the questions in the survey if they preferred not to answer and could select ‘prefer not to say’ for individual questions. The survey also made very clear that it was not designed to represent the views of all home educating families, but rather reflect the views of those who chose to participate.

Participants were asked to indicate which area (borough) of East London they lived in and were asked about the relative length of their home educating experience, with a particular option to indicate if they had started home educating recently, following the first Covid-19 lockdown. The latter category was added to reflect a notable recent increase on the respective social media platforms of new home educators in the context of Covid-19.

The sample of responses received

Altogether 17 responses to the survey were received. Almost all of these were from participants home educating one or more children of primary school age, with one participant home educating children of both primary and secondary school ages. Geographically, the participants were spread across different boroughs in East London (Hackney, Waltham Forest, Redbridge, Newham, Enfield, Haringey, Barking and Dagenham or travelling across different areas as boat residents on the River Lea).

The majority of participants who answered the question about the relative length of their home education experience (11) indicated they had home educated since their child(ren) were of compulsory education age, with another group (4) starting home education after a period of their child(ren) attending primary school. 2 participants indicated they had started home education after the Covid-19 lockdown.


Findings relating to the points of submission invited by the Inquiry

The following sections set out the responses received on various points of submission invited by the Inquiry. The responses are set in participants’ own words.

Benefits of home education:

Become long life learners, wide range of interests and hobbies, opportunities for hands on learning and travel

My kids have grown in confidence and developed a love for learning. They also love learning with different age group and look forward to Forest School weekly. Their imagination and creativity has also developed since.

understands math concepts better; vocabulary increased massively; confidence is boosted; able to read on higher levels; English has improved massively and is able to make proper sentences; writes nice stories; most importantly she is very happy and has confidence to make friends easy

Empowering position to learning to be led by his interests; developmental benefits of being able to spend more time outdoors and hands on practical learning (Maths/ DT/ Science through building, inventing, crafting his ideas); more creative - able to include art + music, these were missing a lot in his school with focus on Y2 SATS

“Home education allows our family to tailor our children’s learning to their individual needs and go at their pace. This doesn’t mean that they are having an inferior educational experience or less access to opportunities in the future, nor does their education lack balance. They simply do not have to conform to the limited standardised frameworks of measuring achievements used in schools from a far too early age. Instead, they benefit from a range of enrichment activities – a lot of time outdoors playing, doing sports and exploring nature; the opportunity to engage in arts-based activities and learning; STEM activities that are hands on and focused on their interests and questions at the time when these arise. Home education also allows us to support our children’s multi-lingual upbringing, including through the possibility to visit family abroad outside of school holiday periods and by being able to include learning in different languages. Embedded learning takes place all the time in this way. Far from being insular or isolated, we take care to enable our children to engage with life around them, be it in everyday life interactions across the urban and diverse community we live in or through participation in a range of facilitated learning opportunities: workshops run by museums, galleries and events / fairs; group and team sports facilitated by coaches; online classes on a range of subjects. We also keep in mind our children’s need for access to exams and qualifications when the time comes (our children are primary school age). While home education is sometimes portrayed as being individualist or exclusive, our experience of a vibrant community (including both home educated and schooled children and their families) has been that we have met with children and families from all walks of life – many for whom day to day life involves a financial struggle and many who home educate while coping with a range of other issues – e.g. disabilities, balancing work with home education, etc.. Thus, our children are not isolated from wider experiences or interactions within society. Our children enjoy meeting schooled children in our local park or other contexts (with some obvious restrictions since the start of Covid) as well as other home educated children.”

Self confidence; wide range of knowledge; is not traumatised socially; has an authentic natural interest in learning; knowledge beyond his official level; sound health; time to pursue sports; time to study music instrument; socially able to relate to adults and children of any age naturally.

*Children can choose subjects that interest them. *There is more one on one time to teach and break subjects down. *Child(ren) have more confidence approaching new things. *Happier emotionally. *Easier to recognise strongest abilities. *No peer pressure *Time flexibility

Possibility to tailor-made education, go deeper in subjects, follow interests, allow for asynchronous developmental needs, go to own pace, develop self-directed and autonomous learning skills, plenty of one-to-one attention and emotional support, possibility to develop closer bonds with family.

A well-rounded curriculum, tailored to their needs.

Raise in self confidence, boost in self esteem, more social, more focused, developing passion for learning outside the school environment, feels supported by other parents, has gained friendships, her learning rhythms are being respected, zero pressure from Ofsted, she is more communicative, she enjoys more her days (and life), she's spending more time in nature, she's developing self discipline

I support home education as I believe, having worked with children in the current school system, that it does not adequately support mental health. Having read reports of grown up electively home educated children there is a very high level of higher education qualifications, employment in respected and high earning careers and a disproportionately more stable and healthy attitude leading to much better mental health. The reasons home education supports this is there is more attention time and observation given to the child. I believe that Maslows hierarchy of needs demonstrates the optimum conditions for healthy progress and these can be met best when a child learns at home.

I believe that home education allows the development of intrinsic motivation, emotional stability and well-being. The freedom to support our children learning at their own pace via methods and means that suit them individually allows them to build a solid foundation both academically and emotionally. Support can be targeted very precisely to benefit learners with neurotypical traits, for example; resources can be tailored, detrimental or challenging environments can be avoided and introduced in a staged fashion with one to one support. Observation and reflection is far more focused than for groups in institutional education or play settings (and I can state that categorically, I have plenty of experience in schools, workshops and playcentres). We have the freedom to encourage huge breadth of learning, art subjects can be cherished in a way not currently possible in UK schools. We strive to offer evidence based educational opportunities and home education allows this, we are not pressed to conform to illogical and outdated traditions with no proven benefit such as spelling tests, or be subject to a system in which early academic learning is supposed, in opposition to available research, to be beneficial to young children's prospects. We feel so lucky to avoid the traumas involved in synthetically contrived competition and feel that our children are more prepared for real world experiences and lifelong learning.

Autonomy to choose topics or styles of learning and follow own interests. Freedom to spend as much or as little time on a concept to make sure that it is truly understood. More time to spend on other activities e.g. sports, music. No need to focus on work solely for SATs.

Our children are able to self determine the topics that they wish to learn about, and we support their learning by helping them identify, gather, and consume relevant resources, as well as using those preferred topics as a support on which to build fundamental skills like literacy and numeracy. In this way, 'learning' is rarely a task in and of itself to be sought out or avoided, it isn't something set to them by us that they might choose to resist out of stubbornness, or resentment; we avoid it becoming antagonistic. Instead learning remains a natural, continuous, collaborative process. Besides the specifically educative part, there is the social part; in a school setting, there are many factors that tend towards children interacting only with their teachers and other children in their age group, regardless of ability or, to an extent, shared interests. In the educational settings we provide or join, the participants are heterogenous in any number of ways, but largely homogenous in the important way: they are united by their interest in the topic at hand. As such, the children interact with a far wider range of people. Additionally, they avoid the many negative social aspects of school settings: pupils in British schools are amongst the most unhappy in the world, and bullying is rife. Given their frequent interactions with other home educated children, there are still opportunities for unpleasant, and unwelcome interactions, but the scope for these is limited, both by the mixing and remixing of groups from one activity to the next, one day to the next, and also by the abundant adult intervention and guidance available. Finally, our children are able to spend a great deal of time engaging in outside play and learning, which is known to be deeply beneficial to both their future academic achievement, and their mental and physical health.

Being able to follow self directed education so they have a sense of responsibility in their own education, gain social emotional developmental skills in mixed age group learning, freedom to have long sessions of outdoor play, ability to develop critical thinking and exercise discernment in choices of activities, range of experiences available, time to acquire real life practical meaningful skills

Autonomy over how they spend their time, freedom to pursue their individual interests and customise their education based on these interests, lots of outdoor time and opportunities to engage in physical activities.

The freedom to learn things at their own pace and when they are ready to do so.


Experiences of difficulties or disadvantages of home education

Among those participants who commented on this point, the following issues were highlighted:

Home education is poorly understood by both the population at large and by those in local government and services. There is often not a box to tick in order to obtain services every child is entitled to (eye tests for example) and lengthy explanations are sometimes necessary. Sometimes explanation is not enough and we've had to seek alternative provision. People feel that they are at liberty to quiz me, and more disturbingly my children, on their knowledge and course of study and to hold it up against some arbitrary average or standard. We have with some regularity been told it is illegal or indeed immoral, to educate children outside of school.

The original plan had included bring able to make the most of free museums, galleries + exhibitions which has been severely affected by lockdown. Financially it's put some strain on me, but I'm working that out, my work is forest school/ outdoor crafts + learning with children so he comes with me + still benefits. I know he misses the collective ceremonies at school (end of year plays, assemblies, singing etc) but I'm working towards a regular group so that something similar can develop, also he's been attending dancing which have end of term performances.”

Not knowing where we stand with regards to changing Covid restrictions. All activities have to be paid for in contrast to school children.

Financial aspects, less possibility to develop an income as it's time consuming.

“Overall I do not think that there are major disadvantages to home education – it has been the right choice for our family. There are trade-offs involved in home education, particularly in terms of the work load it demands of parents. Therefore home education needs to be a choice, and the conflation of issues around off-rolling and elective home education is misleading and unhelpful. Like many decisions in life, there may be push and pull factors involved in home education, and problems in the school system are clearly often part of this overall picture – however, this does not mean that the state’s aim should be to restrict home education in order to force children into school where EHE has been a choice. The misconceptions and prejudices that exist around home education are at times a source of irritation and frustration. All too often the prevailing ideas seem to be that home education has to involve replicating a school classroom at home; that parents lack competence to support their children’s learning; that home educated children are isolated and missing out; that they are at particular risk of harm; that home educators are somehow deviant or withdrawing from society, etc. Unfortunately, these prejudices extend to some of the organisations, institutions and public figures who present as advocates for children but who are involved in conflating a range of issues (elective home education, off-rolling, unregistered schools, etc.) and thus contribute to the notion of home education as deviant and risky. Historically, school education emerged in a specific context of industrial revolution/ development and has since come to be seen as the norm, such as that school (in its specific configurations of today) is seen as the only valid place where children could be educated. This is not the same in other areas of lifelong learning or socialisation, where there is more acceptance that different models suit different learners (e.g. vocational focus, academic paths, part time or full time study, etc.). Clearly the original aim of school was to prevent the exploitation of children – however, we are now in the midst of what is described by some as 4th wave industrial revolution, accelerated by Covid-19. The skills children need to develop for society as it will be in the future are no longer exclusively obtainable in school classrooms. In this sense, rather than being considered a disadvantage or deviant option, home education should be considered (through research and real rather than tokenistic consultation and engagement with home educating families, including children) for its possible contributions to innovations in education overall.”

I believe one of the most difficult parts of home education is the stigma that families experience. The lack of knowledge around this lifestyle and education choice seems to be the main thing families experience- having to constantly explain what they are doing and why.

Some service providers and institutions are not yet well versed or well equipped to provide for or support home educators, as they are very much more used to dealing with large groups of children managed en masse through a school or similar, than they are to dealing with small groups or individual educators. This can lead to challenges in gaining access to resources, services, and learning opportunities.

Most people have been supportive however there are a few who don’t understand and has been judgemental towards our decision.

I dont have access to materials and facilities that the government provides to other children, laboratories, educational materials, sport spaces, etc. that schools have. I don't have access to free or subsidised activities; I have to pay for all the activities my son does. I dont have financial support

Especially when children are young and most dependent, lack of free-of-charge child-care outside of the family unit, can be a financially challenging.

None other than lack of financial help.”


Quality and accessibility of support (including financial support) available for home educating families, such as SEND support, support with mental health issues or for those with caring responsibilities, support with exams and / or transition to further and higher education

I believe the support currently available to be adequate and no intervention is required.

I don't have enough experience to comment.

I am not aware of support that is available? No financial support for providing rich array of experiences

I have not yet look into this support, so far I haven't any government support. Currently my child has been seen by CDC and recommended to have her tested for dyslexia, however I'm waiting for the answer to tell me who will be responsible for this, as normally it is through Senco. I explained the government has a responsibilities towards supporting my child education when it comes to special learning needs. I pay my taxes.

There is no support I am aware of to comment on.

I dont have any support I am a single mother and dont have in account the hours and time I am working educating my child, the teacher is been paid, but I am not, for the same work.

Mine are 4 + 7 so I will look into exam support in the future. I feel the fact that there is a cost allocated per child at school, that this could be applied for by effective home educating parents. The class my son attended was really struggling with managing the many varied emotional, learning + support needs in his class so 30 was really too many children. If this is the case, schools shouldn't have to be forced to have the max no of children (sometimes this goes over 30!)

CAMHS is a travesty no matter your course of education, we know of children and young people hearing voices or self harming and waiting months or years for unsuitable services, or discharged with no help because the services available are unsuitable (some nice counselling not going to cut it for suicidal ideation or schizoaffective disorders). (in our borough) For children with suspected learning differences or neurotypical traits who are electively home educated there's no assessment pathway available. They might have a statutory right to assessment but no such thing exists. GPs can't (won't?) refer.

all the home schooling parents are great in supporting each other with advice and resources

There doesn’t seem to be any support from the government which is unfortunate. Financial support without any strings attached would really help enhance my children’s learning at home.

“Support should be available to all children and young people, regardless of whether they are home educated or schooled. There are a range of things local authorities and central government could do to widen access to support for all children – many home educators actively organise to expand opportunities available not just to their own children but to all home educating families. This work should be welcomed and supported. A start would be to remove the affiliation of local authority officials/teams responsible for home education to the ‘children missing education’ label and the adversarial approaches taken in several authorities to home educating families.”

I believe the media highlights the cases where learners are forced into home education by 'off rolling'; I believe in these cases there should be educational and behavioural psychologist assessments offered to support these families, and a mentor and supervising team offering opportunities to further the mental and academic progress of the family and learner who has not been offered adequate education. I believe there are large bodies of evidence highlighting the risk of these former students into vulnerable situations and this is where the commission would be best deploying its resources to support the families who haven't chosen to home educate but have been left with no other option.


Impact of Covid-19 on home education experiences / need for support to mitigate negative impact

There should be equal support for any family that needs it whether they are home educating or otherwise.

It's been hard to access structured activities and the new ones organised tend to be much more expensive. It should be more recognised that leisure centres, community settings and providers of extra-curricular activities play essential part in provision of full time education for home educated children and exceptions should be made for this.

Clarity for home educating families on what they can continue to do and that it be taken into account that play is learning so that opportunities to play in mixed age groups which has huge benefits (see Peter Gray’s Free to Learn) aren't jeopardised. Leisure facilities where home ed activities take place have all been closed yet schools remain open?

“our experience during Covid 19 has been mixed. On the one hand, for a brief moment of time, home education seemed to become more normalised as all schools closed in March. However, this was then followed by common misconceptions about home education being perpetuated – e.g. recent Covid guidance has made very limited reference to home education and only considered this in the context of ‘learning in private homes’ – even though for many home educating families engagement with outside facilities (museums, sports facilities, parks, nature, community centres etc. etc.) play a very important role. As a result, home education groups have struggled to decipher how guidance affects their activities, leading to uncertainty and stress. Support needed includes: more clarity in guidance, equal access to facilities such as sports etc. in the same way as schooled children, as well as more Covid related support provided across the population.”

National and local lockdowns in response to the progression of Covid-19 through the population have disrupted regularly scheduled classes, groups, meetings and activities. Some of this has been addressable through remote, online learning. As with the answer to the question about difficulties/disadvantages; awareness of the needs of home educating families, and tailored support would have enabled more continuity of provision. This support could take a number of forms; support with safe transport to and from locations where activities are to take place, support for the venues themselves in the form of financial relief targeted at cleaning services or products, to enable them to safely maintain access to their facilities.

Limitations on group activities and social contact made it harder during lockdown. Home educated children need to not be penalised compared to school going children in terms on being able to still access activities and social contact that are available in schools especially in light of current impending restrictions. Regulations for home Ed activities need to be made clearer so no risk of fines.

I believe most groups have continued as before as there was special educational legislation surrounding protecting the home ed community.

I think the lack of clarity has been highly damaging for social, emotional and educational needs. I am disappointed at the lack of contact.

Social distancing rules made "socialisation" a concern for the first time ever during our year-long home education experience. Not being able to attend in-person clubs, classes, museums, theatres, events and travel has modified and restricted our learning and social routine dramatically. Screen-mediated contacts are not remotely an effective nor healthy enough alternative as a substitute for real-life interactions. Home educated children should be allowed at access at least the same amount and opportunity of physical proximity and contact as school children are allowed to.

I believe that guidance in regards to home schooled families socialising should be a little clearer. We need to understand if it is ok to meet with our children.

We need to be included in the educational group, as we do meet to do activities, the children in school are with 30 other children, we do need to have the option to be more than 6.

"Yes, the move online has been equal parts frustrating and enlightening as new options opened up. My child is a registered traveller with the local Learning Trust and have offered absolutely no support whatsoever Covid or otherwise- quite plainly stating as it was elective they offer nothing. (not even a list of useful websites etc) I was quite shocked at this, but have had to be resourceful . In think its a big decision for a parent to make, and they should be offered support (monthly phone call/ check-in or initial 2/3 chat to support transition) if the parents feels worried, vulnerable or anxious. Ultimately it is the child's wellbeing that matters, and that is heavily reliant on the parents capacity to cope.

“Covid-19 has been a nightmare for our home education, we've worked hard to find work-arounds and are worn out. Having previously done a lot of contextual learning from real life experience outside the home, the restrictions have for months at a time completely put an end to many of our usual activities. Our previous rhythm is out the window, making children put on edge by world events even more nervous. Going to shops to practise using money or visiting the library to get resources have become next to impossible, mired in restrictions that mean the children and their primary carer struggle to access such venues. Even a simple thing like a visit to a local outdoor space or shop becomes a herculean epic when there are no toilets available. Technology provides useful opportunities but human contact, conversation and interaction are invaluable and totally irreplaceable. The casual opportunities to learn from people with experience in various fields, be it chef, tree surgeon or optician, are much missed. We've been cut off from family members who support the children's learning (for example, one of the grandparents is an early years and reading recovery specialist), travel has been curtailed, classes have shut, venues such as community and sports centres and halls closed down (and may never recover). Support for parents in these difficult times is a joke. One of the adults in our family was referred for support via Mind in our local area only to be told they were ineligible and the referral shouldn't have been put through. There is nothing tangible offered for children either.

Covid impacted positively on my daughter's mental health, it restrained her from the social and academic demands that created big tension in her school. It would be ideal to receive support in the light of Covid and beyond. The best would be to assign money to home educating families and ask them for reports and evidences this has been spent on educational resources. Educational resources can be pricey, and they add up. Counselling would also be beneficial for children and families during these times. It would be ideal to have funding for wellbeing activities and encourage not just the child, but the family, to get involved.

Covid-19 has created many difficulties for our family because we have only one child. Because of lockdowns and restrictions getting in touch with other home ed groups and activities is hard. Arranging playdates is also hard.

Comments on the duties of local authorities regarding home education and safeguarding; comments on regulatory framework and whether a statutory register is required; developments since 2012 publication of ‘Support for Home Education’ report

I believe the things that are already in place to be adequate and no further intervention is necessary.

I haven't been home-educating long enough to comment of the changes, I consider the current regulatory framework sufficient.

I am vehemently opposed to compulsory registration of any law abiding citizens. To force registration would be to criminalise families who do not prefer institutional education, without due cause. There is no precedent apart from those in the murky depths of history and I strongly oppose the introduction of any such thing. Parents are not presumed to be a danger to their children unless there is clear evidence, we do not allow government agencies to supervise the diet or apparel of individual families, education must enjoy the same freedom. Arguably an inadequate diet is far more likely to cause long term issues than not meeting spurious levels of achievement and is far more prevalent too. Furthermore I hold that outside inspection has, and should never have, any role in home education. To submit to such intrusive outside oversight would be to admit that the education system such as it is suitable for all children and that their measures of suitability and/or efficiency of education are valid. I do not believe they are in the least bit valid, but seem to be world leading only in rigidity and spuriousness, the young people of Britain are measurably unhappy. Rather than seeking to force home educators into an ineffective and damaging one size fits all model (which continually appears to be backsliding into rote learning and negative reinforcement), I suggest that it would be more logical to look at the positive outcomes of more holistic, student-centric educational models and see what can be learned from those processes. Off rolling and elective education ought not to be conflated and in the case of the latter it's clear that much more support needs to be offered though already existing pathways - school, CAMHS, intervention and genuine practical support for families. Those trapped in poverty, with scant resources and little recourse to change their situation and those with unsupported medical or mental health needs would naturally struggle to learn, especially in a top-down, dictatorial and inflexible setting. If schools are failing learners by being unsuitable, it is not the learners who should be punished. Parent should never be pushed to the limit of their capacity and then _abandoned_ by schools. Institutions should be strongly rebuked for such practises and I hope to see them wiped out in due course. Off rolling serves no-one, it merely reinforces an inadequately responsive and un-diverse system. 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. There has in recent years been a surge of local authorities and schools acting in an ultra vires manner; threatening families, demanding samples of work they are not entitled to, inviting themselves to peoples homes, inappropriately referring to social services, some even going to far as to repeatedly take the same family to court multiple times although each time the judge finds the education to be suitable. It's entirely unacceptable and further moves to alienate families who educate outside school from those who are supposed to offer support. There's also a worrying trend in schools seeking to prevent families removing their children from the school roll by suggesting 'consultation' or 'cooling off' periods are obligatory. This behaviour is actually not legal and ought to be addressed. Few local authorities help home educating families to access exam centres or specialist resources difficult to find in the community. Few allow access to educational collections in libraries. That kind of genuine help would be likely to foster good relations, unlike removal of human rights and interference in family life.

That self directed education be taken seriously due to the evidence available in supporting it in helping young people thrive in their passions and the changing nature of the world and type of jobs/skills that will be available (e.g. by 2040 60% of jobs will be self employed). How will quality be defined, in comparison to school and curriculum? That doesn't give the whole picture and to have wider scope of what education and learning actually is when provided in the context of relationships with the key adults around them. If the law states education is the responsibility of the parents then they should be trusted to uphold children's rights in providing that. Should funds go into a register when there is already a birth register and the children who go to school are known so the two can be subtracted?! Schools who encourage off rolling and force families into these situations should be investigated as to why they are unable to support these families and why these families are receiving no support to prepare for home educating. I have concerns as to how cases are handled within the social care system as there can be bias towards "easy targets" due to the heavy caseload and staffing issues in the system. How will there be checks in place to ensure fairness and ability to intervene if there is genuinely a need? I am not aware of any improvements to the home ed community since 2012.

Seems to be a postcode lottery with how home educators are treated. Need to educate local authorities about respectful relationships with home educators and to standardise how home educators are contacted and treated.

“Home education is all too often regarded with suspicion and local authorities seem to lack training / clear understanding of the law. Anecdotally there has been an increase in home educating families reporting unfounded referrals for safeguarding, often from schools at the point of deregistration, when there were no concerns shared with parents prior to that. Safeguarding children is an important task for society, but a compulsory register would not solve the issues where children are at risk. There is evidence that children and young people who are excluded from school are at particular risk of harm outside their family (e.g. exploitation or gang association), however, there is no evidence that the same applies to children and young people who are electively home educated. There is no evidence of greater incidence of child abuse or neglect among electively home educated children. The argument that home education reduces opportunities for monitoring children’s welfare is flawed in several ways: firstly, those who really want to ‘hide’ their children and harm them – generally a minority even among safeguarding cases – will likely find a way around any monitoring measures, as the many cases of children who have come to serious harm while attending schools have shown. In cases where home educated children have suffered serious harm they have usually been known to services. The best way to protect all children is to provide a sufficient range of universal services along with targeted support and interventions for those who need this. Cut-backs in universal services put children at risk and school educators overburdened with high class sizes, overzealous academic targets and inspections often are unable to monitor the wellbeing of children effectively. Existing mechanisms of enquiry already allow local authorities to identify and intervene when children are missing education or are at risk of harm.  Rather than introducing a compulsory register which those whose children may be most at risk may seek to circumvent, there is a great deal that local authorities could do (with relevant government funding) to support the welfare of all children and to specifically seek to engage with local home educating families, including: access to meaningful advice and support for those who want it, maintaining good relationships with local home educating families by not overstepping their remit in relation to elective home education, reduced rates (or free access) for local venues and facilities in line with what is available to schools. In short – positive engagement and building relationships rather than viewing all home educators with suspicion unless they go to great lengths – despite of existing guidance and law – to ‘prove’ otherwise.”

I am, overall, resistant to suggestions that home educators should necessarily register their children, submit to inspections, or accept local authority involvement in the process of home education. I am resistant because part of my reason for choosing home education for my children was in order to avoid the local authority's framework for educational quality, as it did not suit or benefit me, and I see no evidence that it would suit or benefit my children, either. I am resistant because, both in the sphere of education, and in other places where public life interfaces with governmental authority, that authority tends to be acquisitive; it tends to seek to extend its reach beyond any original brief, without regard to legal boundaries, and so I believe that any concession of limited oversight will soon become an ongoing struggle to exclude invasive probing. I am resistant because I see a pattern, since the introduction of Austerity economics, of reduction in the number of people and the amount of resources devoted to any kind of oversight and enforcement, coupled with an increase in their reach and powers, as if these two factors exist on a spectrum, and it is possible to make up the shortfall in one by increasing the availability of the other, when the truth is that it establishes an apparent vacuum, where some believe that oversight is entirely absent, and others believe it is ubiquitous, and where intervention, when it does occur, tends to be drastic. I am resistant because I see the nature and framing of the very consultation to which I'm responding as demonstrative of an authoritarian bent that I actively oppose: proposing solutions (a statutory register, an updated regulatory framework, the possibility of inspections), without clearly defining the problems that are to be solved. I keep my kids out of state schools because I don't want them to be subject to constant, ongoing monitoring and oversight; rather I want them to maintain and develop their independence of mind, and of action, even from me, so that they know how to evaluate what needs to be done, without being briefed, so that they know how to gauge their own success, so that they feel personally responsible for themselves and their path through life, rather than believing, incorrectly, that it is somehow dependent on conforming to the demands of an authority who are applying a method that is not supported by any evidence of success or value.

I strongly advocate for the focus of this consultation to focus its efforts on understanding why schools are off rolling, what affect that has on families who have not chosen to home educate and to use its resources to offer mental and academic support to families who find themselves in that situation. I am not convinced of the effectiveness of a register but would like to see qualitative proof that schools where problem learners have been excluded or off rolled should be given support to understand how they can avoid failing more children and families.

I understand safeguarding may sometimes be an issue, and it's important to consider/address that aspect. From my experience, the home ed community provides a better quality of education, so it would be important to let our community have a voice and be heard. Society and the school system can learn a lot from us. I would like our right to choose whether to register our children as home ed to be preserved. Conversation between the local governments and the home ed community need to happen, as there is a lot of prejudice and perhaps fear from both parts, that either one may not be doing the right thing. But the spirit of independence and the allowance for every family/child to decide on the type of education they need, must be preserved. I don't know enough about the current regulatory framework. Inspections is a point that need debating, the home ed community should be heard, rather than having to comply with whatever the government decides, since the government does not have a culture of home education, this may largely be misunderstood by the authorities.

I think a register offers false reassurance for safeguarding, the feeling that there is someone monitoring all children- when the reality is an annual email does not afford a child any protection. Existing services need to be funded and effective to support known children already in contact with services, so they do not fall through the net.

Experience brought me to consider that the local authorities, as they currently are trained and structured, are not in a position to evaluate and assure the quality of home education. I'm satisfied with the current safeguarding duties of local authorities with regards to home education. A register of home-educated children should work on a voluntary basis, unless safeguarding concerns arise. Learning Authorities could be a good provider of information, support and guidance for those families who require their help.

I believe enough is being done to ensure children’s well-being and education is being meet. The local authorities do not need to have a register in place for home educated children. A report on a yearly basis is sufficient to gauge the children’s learning and outcome etc.

I dont think a home schooler register is needed any more than national ID is.

the government should understand that home ed families need to be able to do their activities, projects and meet ups. this way our children will remain in good health and mental health. This is the provision that always should be enabled for home ed and centres and leisure centres should be made accessible for their activities and projects

“Local authority involvement should only happen at the request of parents. LA representatives are not qualified to judge HE and there is a plethora of resources and support for parents.


Additional comments

In summary; your house is on fire, deal with that first. We're doing just fine.

Acknowledgement that school does not uphold childrens rights despite the tokenistic nature of UNICEF rights respecting awards, home education allows freedom and choice in collaboration with the children so that their rights can be upheld. That individual learning styles are taken into account and how they may vary greatly from child to child. That the arbitrary skills hierarchy that is applied in schools is not applied to home education, when learning is self motivated and directed the meaningful skills to that young person will be acquired at the time when it's important to them without reference to timescales. For example reading and writing should not be evidence of a certain level of knowledge these may be important at certain ages in schools for the purposes of mass educating however in home educating with one to one attention this may not be the case at all. Support for creating more inclusive community groups. For the state to be in more collaboration with home edit families rather than to keep perpetuating vertical hierarchical forms of communication based on control. That evidence for learning is actually taken into account, there is a huge amount of it and it is being ignored in schools and may be a contributing factor as to many leaving school to be able to follow children's lead in learning so for home educating not to be compared with the school curriculum way of learning as they are not comparable.


I would like to see exam centre access made a right, even if not funded, for home educated children.

The UK state school system was established in order to provide child care to factory workers after industrialisation pulled the rug from under cottage industry. Schools of this nature were viewed by my parents, and are similarly viewed by me, as preparation for entry into regimented working - the expectation to be at a certain place, at a certain time, wearing clothes of a certain style, in order to sit in neatly ordered rows and work on the assignments you are given for the allotted duration, before submitting them to a superior for acceptance. Clinging to this model in the face of the way that the UK has moved, in the time since the establishment of the state school system, from an industrial to a services based economy, and in the face of the way that the information revolution has pulled the rug from under industrial enterprise by providing the ability for anyone with access to a few thousand pounds of capital to manufacture not only prototypes, but complete finished products using 3D printing, and in the face of the way that digitalisation has already pulled the rug from under the services based economy by enabling enterprises to engage the services of skilled workers in any location, or, increasingly, to replace even the overseas workers with process automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, is beyond foolish; it demonstrates an unwillingness or inability to recognise that what worked yesterday won't work today. Opening a consultation on whether home education ought to more closely resemble education in state schools, as if education in state schools was the gold standard, demonstrates a failure to recognise that the situation has changed, and is changing still, a failure to imagine what 'education' could mean, and a failure to foster and support the bold, adventurous spirit that moves home educators to turn away from the decrepit, established order so that our children, freed from the tedious constraints of test-driven-education, can learn how this new world works, so that they might pull its levers.

A registry serves no purpose other than infringe on the families’ privacy and unique way to provide a suitable education for their children. It would be a highly discriminatory measure and put Home educators in the same position as convicted criminals.

“Engagement with home educators, including home educated children, through meaningful support, real opportunities of consultation and fair access to facilities and services, including exams; along with research that considers the role of home education in the context of the changing needs for educating all children – a reform of the school system to make it more flexible, particularly in the current context of Covid-19 some families are pushed into home education when a period of flexi-schooling may be much more suitable (but don’t use this as an excuse to prevent those genuinely wanting to embark on EHE from deregistering).”


November 2020