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 am a home educator for my daughter. I am a former primary school teacher having taught in both England and Wales. I have experience teaching across year groups as well as leading a Specialist Support Centre for children with Special Educational Needs. I have included this information not to justify my abilities to home educate my daughter but to highlight my knowledge of the school education system and all the problems children face while in it and the lasting negative effects it can have on their futures.

My daughter switched from the [place] to the [place] education system in [school year] Where the switch to long periods of sitting still, zero self-directed learning, testing and comparisons of pupils highlighted, stripped her of her motivation to learn.


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


I have recently started home educating my daughter. I was shocked to discover (from research and studying the government guidance for both parents and the Local Authority) that at present the LA’s role is not to support and help parents in their quest to find the best possible way to educate their children but to crudely judge whether or not they are providing a ‘suitable and efficient’ education. This causes a huge divide between the families and the LA. It ensures that we as home educators, keep our cards close to our chest and provide the minimum information possible. How can we be sure that the LA will deem our decisions, ethos and activities as ‘suitable and efficient’?

Maybe it would be prudent to describe exactly what is expected in providing a ‘suitable and efficient’ education!? However, this highlights an enormous problem. This explanation should not set out a set curriculum and should definitely not reflect what is going on in schools. Home educators operate in a variety of ways including methods such as: ‘school at home’, an ‘unschooled’ method or a mixture of both. I imagine there are also many other fantastic child-led methods that I am yet to learn about. Many home educators including myself deem the school education system as ‘unsuitable and inefficient’ – so how can LA members judge us with keeping in tune with ‘work’ carried out in a school setting when we believe this to be ‘inefficient and unsuitable’?

Our experience of communication between ourselves and the LA doesn’t match up to government guidance. One example of this is the LA asking for proof of curriculums followed and proof of progression. Neither of these requests are statutory. This leads to a distrust between both parties. The letters we have received are very nerve wracking to receive and aggressive, again causing a distrust between home educating families and the LA. I found the department wholly unprofessional sending out letters dated two weeks in the future and taking over three weeks to respond to emails.

Point Two – Whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required;

This will only be OK if home educating families and LA’s are on the same page in regard to what is a ‘suitable and efficient’ education.


Point Three – The benefits children gain from home education, and the potential disadvantages they may face.

I have written the following points comparing home education and school education to highlight the benefits.

*My daughter has the ability to control her own learning and take responsibility for her own learning. My daughter has increased motivation and confidence to ask for or locate information.

*The child-led method ensures that she is engaged in her own learning. There is more time to ask questions and actually follow up on ideas. Children learn best when they choose what they want to learn.

*More time to learn through play which research tells us is vitally important in all areas of development including brain function.

*My daughter has more time to socialise with other children freely. Developing real life empathy skills that will ensure that she becomes a good person and a valuable member of her community.

* My daughter has developed a high self-esteem and ability to believe in herself. Together my daughter and I have been able to focus on her individual needs. School taught her that she wasn’t as good as other members of her class and switched off her ability to learn. It left her insecure and generally sad.

*The wonderful support networks I have formed with other home educating families in order to enhance our home-schooling journey.

*Happiness! All round enjoyment of life as a whole and learning.


*The only disadvantage is the constant need to justify decisions to the general public, family and Local Authority. The constant fight I have to put up in order to provide the best possible life long learning opportunities for my daughter.

Point Four – the quality and accessibility of support (including financial support) available to home educators and their families…

I am not aware of any support available. I am yet to learn about the transitions into further education.

Point Five – The role that inspection should play in future regulation of home education;

There needs to be trust between the home educating families and the LA. There needs to be a consensus of what a ‘suitable and efficient’ education is. This needs to be agreed upon and not a dictation of what we should be doing. I am home educating as I don’t agree that the school education system is ‘suitable or efficient’.


Point Six – the impact covid-19 has had on home educated children.

On the whole I believe I have been able to protect my daughter from the impact covid-19 has had on our family and wider community. She has not been subjected to a massive change or exposed to additional safety measures; unlike many children her age have had to endure in school at the moment. We have ensured news is kept to a minimum and been able to answer any questions that arise.

Our learning environment has decreased in size since castles, museums, Aquariums and zoo’s etc have closed. However, forests, beaches and parks are thankfully still available.

The uncertainty of having groups cancelled has impacted us. My daughter attends both informal and formal groups such as beach sessions run weekly by marine biologists, informal Spanish classes, forest school, informal art sessions, sports groups etc. She also learns from the diversity of age groups within these groups. The value of supportive free play sessions also needs to be considered.

We need clear guidance that states that we can continue to gather safely in order to continue our children’s learning journey without the worry that we may be doing something wrong.

November 2020