Written evidence submitted by [a 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 / call for Evidence

1The duties of local authorities with regards to home education, including safeguarding and assuring the quality of home education;


2  whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required;

   I do not see why there needs to be a statutory register. Why would you single out home educators – we do not have a register of those that choose to educate their children via the public-school system. 


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

My wife and I electively home educated our three children. We started with each child from the age of [age] years old to around [age] years old.  There were a huge number of benefits that all the children gained from being home educated.

a)      The education and personal development were tailored to their individual needs, strength and weaknesses. There was no “sheep dip” approach. Our oldest, a girl, for example had a reading age of 10 at the age of 5 which meant that we were able to provider her with books that would interest her and at her reading ability.  Our second (a boy) [personal information]. We were able to accommodate this by the way we organised the educational material and the demands we placed on him. Our third child was very IT capable, making use of the various Microsoft tools including making short films with Movie-Maker at the age of 6.  All three had the time to learn at their own pace.

b)      The education was very much child lead with its direction being controlled in many ways why the child themselves. We did not use a standard curriculum. Our boy got very interested in nature and [personal information] and he was able to take advantage of helping a local botanist who was developing a wood.  [personal information].  The advantage that home education gave was that there was time to follow a child’s interests. 

c)       My wife started a group for home educators in our area and we supported this. It met once a month and had regular outings to places of interest. What this did was that it exposed our children to many “grown-ups” and to a wide age range both of adults and other young people/children. The research has shown that one of the prime positive aspects of home education is the social skills that home educated children gain by exposure to the diverse demography. This is reflective of “real -life” when for example in a work context there are often a huge range of ages that a person needs to deal with. My personal experience is that our children were very confident and savy around adults, and as an example expressing itself in their willingness to talk to grown-ups – this is in contrast to a number of our friends’ children were reluctant to talk to grown- ups.  All our children did attend the local sixth form college and each reflected that they were very disappointed in the poor levels of maturity shown amongst their peers. Our children formed easy professional relationships with their tutors/teachers and we had very positive parents’ evenings with their subject teachers. We put this down to the socialisation skills that they developed whilst being home educated.

d)      As parents we know that in law, it is the accountability of the parent to educate their child but that the responsibility for educating your child can be discharged via home education, personal external tutors or attendance at a authorised school. But we think that education is not the only element of bringing a child up. We found that by home educating them we were able to discuss values, behaviour, religious beliefs, world views, gender, diversity, inclusion naturally in context as issues arose around us or where they came up in the news.  We struggle to see how a state education system can be that effective – life is not compartmentalised into 1-hour lessons and so this is an advantage of elective home education. Did they always agree with me as a parent, no. Did that matter, no. It was the ability and the time to talk such issues through, that was the benefit. We would see it a huge regressive step it the state took this accountability away from parents.  I don’t think we want to  live in Stalinist- type nation where the state have absolute rights over an individual and hence what they are deemed to be given in terms of “truth” and values - this is a blessing to us all.   

e)      Was my experience of home education a heaven made on earth? No there was several areas where it would have been good to have support – ideally as the children got older access to specialist teaching would have been very helpful. So for example, neither my wife nor I spoke Spanish and we ended up paying for several modules of an Open University Spanish course to give that opportunity. It was expensive.   The access to exam centres was very restricted. Our children took [examinations].  We have to travel many miles to get access to exam centres and the cost was significant. This was very frustrating as nearly all the exams were also sat at our local Comprehensive about a 15 minute walk away. They had a policy of not accepting external candidates. So, effectively our children were disenfranchised from the exam system.   This is even more ironic since there is no tax break for not sending ones child to a state school. 

f)        As a postscript to this question. Although our children had the following academic outcomes ( see below) I consider the home education experience has developed three good citizens who will contribute to our society and culture.

[personal information].      


4 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;

As far as we were aware, there is no financial support provided to elective home educators. There were two areas where support would have made a marked difference to the opportunities our children had. 

The first was access to specialist teachers. Our ideal scenario would have been a flexy-school approach. We would have loved our children to have more access to modern languages teaching. It felt the only area we as parents were not able to provide the teaching needed to develop those skills.  We did do Latin at home using “So you want to Learn Latin” Grove books and one of our daughters took the O’Level Latin exam but that is different from a living language.

The second was access to exam centres. This was a constant worry at the point our children were ready to do some exams. We had to rely on a small exam centre some 30 miles way or go to private schools to get access to national exams. Our children did manage to do circa 24 subject exams between them but the state could have made this much easier by making it mandatory for local school ( academy or state) exam centres to be accessible to elective home educators.  The reason we were given was that our child’s results might affect their schools exam results tables – if that was the principle reason then why not just have a system where external candidates results are excluded from the overall results for the school?


Two other points.

The average cost per child is circa £28,000 in primary school (age 5 to 11) and £31,000 in secondary schools ) age 11 to 16). Hence, £59,000 per child to transition through the state school system. We had three children and so that equates to nearly £180,000 if we had sent our children to a state school.  By choosing elective home education the state avoided spending £180,000. We estimated that we spent circa £40,000 in home education (excluding the opportunity cost of one of us not being in paid employment).   It would make the home educating experience so much easier if a portion of that was given in tax break or some other means.  We often thought as parents what we could do for our kids education if we had even some of this available to us.  I understand that Canada has a system where some money can be refunded back to the parents who chose elective home education.  However, I would not have wanted this money if it there was constrains on what the parent was allowed to spend such money on. In the same way that when a parent is eligible for child benefit, the state does not tell the parent what food or clothing to buy for the child, I would not want the state directing the parent as to what curriculum or books or theatre visits were acceptable.  One specific area where financial support would be very helpful would be exam fees.  These can add up to a significant amount especially when one has multiple children doing exams at the same time. 


Final point on this.  Our younger daughter had “done” all the GSCEs that she wanted to do by [year group] ( she was [age] years old).  [personal information].  The school said no because there was no funding.  My wife did some back ground research and found that this was not the case and went to the local sixth form and argued the case.  The school finally agreed to allow our daughter to join the sixth form.  It does seem that schools are unaware of what funding is available and so, it would be helpful if that was clearer for them.



5  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’;

No comment

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

Again I see no reason why the state should choose to inspect a home educating family.  The sate does not have the right to see if a parent regardless of educational choices is feeding the child with “right” food or clothing them with the “right” sort of clothes, Which standards would be applied?  It seems this leaves it open to a huge degree of arbitrariness. The experience of home educators is very much that the current inspection regime is random, often mis-informed and generally unsupportive. 


7 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;

No comment


8 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 impact

No comment

November 2020