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.]

Response to the Call for Evidence

Report Author

I am a home educating parent residing in [location]. I have been home educating for over [a number of] years. I work within the SEND sector in educational provision as a Speech and Language Therapist and have worked in the sector for the last 17 years.

As a home educator I have had previous positive interactions with our former EHE officer [name]. I met with my local MP to discuss these experiences and provided evidence to the call for evidence of the draft EHE guidance in 2019 and Lord Soley’s bill with examples of local good practice.

I have had more recent negative experiences of contact with the Local Authority following changes to their staffing and policies.

Executive Summary

Specific Response to the Points in Question

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

The LA should retain the duty to ensure that all parents secure for their children education as defined in Section 7 of the 1996 Education Act. The quality of that provision should remain the duty of parents as they are best placed to understand what is sufficient and effective in terms of choosing which school to enrol their child in or by making their own provision. The LA should have a duty to provide a local offer of support to any parent at the parent’s request where there are issues around quality of education, safeguarding, off-rolling or bullying within the school setting

Under the current guidance and legislation, if there is genuine concern that the child is not being given an appropriate education, the LA can make informal enquiries, and if these are not satisfied, then there are further steps that can be taken. This is adequate and where the LA act lawfully this leads to the development of positive support links between the EHE community and the LA. 

Regarding Safeguarding, Section 7.3 of the Guidance for LAs explicitly states "There is no proven correlation between home education and safeguarding risk". Graham Stuart, MP and previous Chair of the Education Select Committee, stated that home educated children are "peculiarly visible".  The review of all the Serious Case Reviews (SCRs) in the country found there has never been a case where home education has been a causative factor (SCIE, Social Care Institute for Excellence, 2020).  Just because a child is home educated, does not mean they neglected or isolated, rather they are out and about in society, and very noticeable due to the relative lack of other children in the community during term time. Undertaking to educate a child at home full time is a huge financial, emotional and time commitment. Parents who are neglectful of their child’s needs are not going to take that option when there is free government provided childcare in the form of educational provision for all children between the ages of 2-15.

LAs do have a duty of care regarding the safeguarding of ALL children - and if there are any concerns, then they should get Social Services involved, using the processes and powers that they already have.


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



A register provides no benefits to the LA or to parents. Records of all children are available in the form of national statistics of births, deaths and school registrations. A statutory register would be costly to implement and monitor and would add nothing to provision available.


A statutory register of children off-rolled from school and of parents whose children are not able to access any educational provision due to the lack of a suitable place, mental health and SEN would be of benefit, to go alongside the register of children missing from education and children in need registers would be of benefit in a safeguarding capacity. These issues are not an elective home education issue. I believe there is scope for an additional term for these families where the phrase “Elective” is a misnomer and home education due to “lack of provision” is more appropriate.


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

Home education has been beneficial in my experience in the following ways:


Potential disadvantages of HE:





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;


We have experienced home ed drama sessions facilitated by our former EHE officer via a local theatre and a home ed support day held at a local park again facilitate by the former EHE officer.

There has been no further support from the LA. Our support currently is 100% from the rest of the EHE community locally and nationally. Unlike other countries there is no financial support available, unlike children who are accessing EOTAS with funded tuition. We are able to access discounted resources and trips through the support of other home educators and dedicated home education support provided by institutions such as museums and local businesses.   

Care and support for people with SEN - legally there should be no difference whether the child is at school or otherwise.  However, anecdotally, this is not always the case.  Many people pursuing EHCPs for their children get told that this can only be done in a school environment (untrue) or conversely that because their child has an EHCP that they cannot HE (also untrue).  The same is often true for people looking for official diagnosis of autism or ADD, GPs will tell parents that they have to go through the school for referral (untrue).  Referral to CAMHS, TAMHS and other children's mental health support, can also be difficult when HE, not least because parents try to mitigate any factors automatically as part of their parenting, so the children may appear to have milder symptoms compared to others at school, when they do indeed need high levels of support.

Transition to further and higher education doesn't seem to be a problem; generally educational establishments liaise with parents as they would with a schooled child’s teachers and are welcoming of pupils with the autonomous skills that home educated children tend to possess.

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’;

Attending unregistered schools is not home education. If your child is attending an unregistered school, then you are not educating at home! If your child has been off rolled or excluded then you have not elected to home educate. I again state that I believe a completely separate category of children need to be considered rather than these being elective home educated children.

Off-rolling prevention should be an LA/Ofsted joint initiative, it should not have anything to do with HE regs or guidance, but all within the monitoring of the behaviour of schools.

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

LAs have no duty to monitor home education that should remain the parent’s duty as above. The government does not inspect the kitchens of all parents to ensure they are feeding their children a balanced/government approved diet; they only go in to inspect when there is cause for concern.  The same should be for home education. The police do not inspect the public to ensure they are not breaking the law, they act in the face of evidence to the contrary and the same principle should apply.


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; 

The document is extremely positive and reiterates and resonates with all my concerns as a home educator. In response to the question what improvements have been made I would say none. All the recommendations relating to bad practice, postcode lotteries, LAs overstepping and acting unlawfully are yet to be enacted and remain an issue. Speaking from personal experience, [location] have gone from being a supportive local authority, held up as an example of good practice to adversarial, acting against the interests of home educators. I submitted evidence to my local authority regarding my own EHE provision in June. I am yet to have any acknowledgement that the report has been received, read or acted upon. It is beyond rude and has totally eradicated the good faith that I had built up in the system following correspondence with our former EHE officer. This needs to be seen in the context that I am in touch with other EHE families as part of our local support network. We know each other and I know that the lady who emailed me and I sent my report to is still working daily, contacting other local families, pushing for face to face meetings and samples of work which she has no right to request. Conversely, as soon as I provided evidence that I knew my position legally and stood up for our rights we have been dropped with no support and not even an acknowledgement email.

LAs still do not have adequate training of their EHEOs.  Many are still ex teachers (so expect to see school-at-home), or have no knowledge of HE, education, pedagogy or any relevant qualifications. Locally we have experienced restructuring with three new staff bought in to the role of EHE officers. Two are former teachers and one has a family member who formerly home educated. This highlights the lack of clear job role and experience requirements for the post of EHE officer and the continuation of the poor practice referenced in the Education Committee report of LA staff with narrow, restrictive views of what a suitable, full-time, efficient education may consist of. The people and educational approaches within the EHE community are many and varied and EHE officers need to have a clear understanding of this in order to be supportive in their role. Instead they have attempted to rewrite council policy to include a caveat that parents wishing to deregistered must first meet with school and council representatives to request to home educate which is further overstepping.

Our local new team offered a consultation with local EHE families. They provided this with less than a week’s notice and had not given any consideration to the fact that families who attended would have their children with them. This ignorance is shocking, where did they expect the children of EHE families to be when offering a week day meeting? At the consultation the offered to work with families, offered support and promised to share the Powerpoint slides that made up their presentation and the feedback they received from the community. This is yet to happen and the meeting was held in November 2019.

Paragraph 28 of the aforementioned document states "The team within which local authority home education officers sit can give out an important message about that authority’s view of home education. For example, it is inappropriate for such officers to be located with those working on attendance, children in care or safeguarding" - this hasn't changed at all our EHE team have joint roles with children missing education roles.

Para 52 on local support: "Whilst we agree with the Minister’s view that local authorities, and not central Government, must be responsible for service provision in their area, we do not consider it acceptable that home-educated young people receive such different levels and quality of support dependent purely upon their postcode. Local authorities should be expected to produce a ‘local offer of support’ for home educators, stating what services are available, how these differ from those for parents of schooled children, and enabling home educators to compare with practice elsewhere. Critically, local offers must be developed in consultation with home educators and their families. We recommend that the Department for Education support pilots for such a scheme, and play a role in monitoring the quality of local offers and the adherence applied to them by local authorities. " This has been the opposite of my experience.

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 impacts.

Legislation contains no provision for home educated children. So while their peers are continuing to attend educational provision daily in a bubble with their class of 30 or year group of 100+, HE children’s activities have almost unilaterally stopped. Personally my child’s swimming, gymnastics, fun and fitness (P.E.) and forest school home education classes have stopped despite being permitted to continue during lockdown under exemption 2 within the guidance. These are all part of our usual curriculum, they are not extracurricular but run alongside the school provision e.g. the school swimming lessons at the local leisure centre. These have stopped because there is no clear guidance for venues that they are allowed for to open home education and no funding to enable them to continue to provide services. My child’s gym cannot afford to pay 2 staff and heat the building for one class and yet their Covid secure protocols are so strong that when a child who had been attending tested positive no one in the setting needed to self isolate. These decisions, along with the closure of all youth sport and groups (meaning my child’s scouting group, gymnastics squad training, cheerleading and dance classes are shut) make it feasible that HE children will not see another child until December 2nd, longer if lockdown is extended. I feel that this is hugely disproportionately affecting HE children and is having a negative impact on their mental health. Legislation should clearly set out what circumstances HE children are permitted to meet and funding should be in place to enable small bubbles of children to meet following Covid secure guidelines.

November 2020