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.]


Call for Evidence

from the Education Committee






I am a second-generation, elective home educator; my response to the Education Committee’s Call for Evidence is from the perspective of both having received an full time education facilitated by my parents throughout my school years and now as a home educating parent of four children.


I have answered all the points about which the Committee asked for evidence. I strongly object to the local authorities having a duty of responsibility for Elective Home Educators and argue that existing safeguard laws are more than sufficient with no need for a compulsory EHE register. I suspect that I am not alone in my response. I also point out the difference between EHE and Children Missing Education.


I identify benefits and disadvantages to the Elective Home Education route and include an appendix with individual feedback from my four children. I outline ways that COVID-19 restrictions have impacted our home education life.


I am happy to be contacted and for this submission and my name to be published, but my children’s names are to be kept anonymous to protect their identity. Thank you.


[member of the public], [location]

Elective Home Educator






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



As the law stands, parents have the responsibility to ensure full time education of their children “at school or otherwise.”[1]


In a pre-COVID world, the huge majority of elective home educators carry out this responsibility to great effect. Children are launched into the adult world as young citizens ready to successfully play their part in society.




The current safeguarding rules in place for all children in the UK have sufficient power to cover and include home educated children. The home education community is aware that anybody — family, neighbours, GP surgeries, other healthcare providers, local community services — can flag any perceived safeguarding issues with local authorities. This is a good situation. Home educated children are visible and the majority of parents want their children to interact with the local community.


In my own experience as a parent, my children are known to be home educated by neighbours, library staff, local shops, the GP surgery, music school (to name just a few) and, not only interact well with them, are highly regarded by them. If anybody had any concerns about my children’s education, mental health or safety, the legal safeguards are already in place to investigate.


There is no need for new safeguards — legal or guidance — relating specifically to Elective Home Educators.




I can speak from experience having received a home education. My several siblings and I were educated full time, based at home until at least 16, and were given a huge range of skills and qualifications to enable us to contribute fully to our communities. This was during a time before the online world with its easily accessible knowledge took off. As a 21st century parent, I know that is even easier to tap into high quality schooling materials now.


Parents who electively home educate have the responsibility to ensure a quality education for their children. There is no need, desire or duty for the LEAs to oversee this. This is even more the case now in the COVID-19 and post-COVID world when LEAs should be prioritising their duty to state-school children.




      Is a statutory register of home-educated children is required


As said at the beginning of my comments above, it is the responsibility of parents to ensure full time education of their children at school or otherwise. The majority of EHE parents take this responsibility extremely seriously and fulfil their duty thoroughly.


Existing safeguards are more than adequate for home educated children, as I have also explained.


The LEAs should instead focus their attention on illegal ‘off rolling’, parents pulling children out of school for merely COVID-concerns, and helping state school pupils cope with the effects of COVID. A register for the children under their care in these three categories could be a helpful way for the LEAs to keep track of them and save them falling through the cracks in the system but this does not need to include EHE families.


We are a separate category of education and entirely separate from the state school system. There is no need, desire or duty for a government statutory register of electively home educated children.






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



The benefits gained from electively home educating are seemingly endless to children, families and even communities; below are mentioned the main benefits to my family.


Space and time to develop

[personal information], as we intend to home educate long term, he has been able to develop at his own pace. With one-to-one support from us, he is developing his technical engineering abilities and interests. Unhindered by timetables and with tools like audio books, he has been able ‘read’ and comprehend literature like Lord of the Rings before he was eight years old. He has not had his confidence knocked by comparison in the classroom.


My musical daughter has been able to put many extra hours into learning three instruments at a level above her peers. She would not have had enough time in the day to develop this ability had she been at school.


Broad Socialisation

In normal times, there can be so much on within the local home education community that parents often have to intentionally turn events down in order to find time for formal academics. The popular misconception of a socialisation ‘problem’ simply does not exist. Indeed, people interacting with home educated children often comment about how easily they communicate with people of diverse ages and backgrounds.



With no restrictions as to style of home education methods and no official hours of school, we can choose the path best suited to the children individually and our family. We can easily adapt materials for each child in their different seasons of development and growth.


Academic Performance

The benefits listed above lend themselves to an environment in which learning is a natural, enjoyable part of life. Although there are no studies of home educated children in the UK, studies from the USA and Australia[2] show that home educated children perform as well as their schooled peers and often even outperform them.






The negative press often put forward by LEAs, the Children’s Commissioner (currently Anne Longfield) and those who don’t understand home educating is hugely detrimental to home educated children. While parents and children don’t mind explaining how home education works, we shouldn’t have to feel on the defence as often as we do.


EHE is as valid a choice as sending your child to private school, or to state school. It would be a benefit for it to be looked at much more positively and not mixed up with the rare tragic occasions of known neglect.


Examination access

The major disadvantage for Elective Home Educators is the difficulty and expense of UK examinations. Not all home educators use I/GCSE level and A level examinations; those who do, find the fees particularly high while exam centres and schools who accept private candidates are still thin on the ground and difficult to find.


There is a growing number of home educators who are successfully using international examination centres for the American SAT exams for completion of their teenagers education and use these results for access to university through the International Admissions Departments. These are internationally recognised and a fraction of the price.


Yet the problem of examination centre provision for UK exams still remains and the headache of cancelled exams in the spring left home educated teenagers at a huge disadvantage.


I must add that music examinations do not come under this category as they are run independently of schools and I have had no issues with access.



Please also refer to the Appendix for answers from my four children regarding benefits and disadvantages.




      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.



I know that this is an emotive topic of debate within the EHE community. I can only speak from my family’s experience.


In [location], there does not appear to be any kind of extra support specifically for Elective Home Educators. We make full use of the local music school, county library system, and travel often (in non-COVID time) to the incredible cultural resources in London. We are able to tap into several initiatives open to schools including helping to judge the Royal Society’s ‘Young People’s Science Book of the Year’. These are invaluable resources to our family.


We have made use of the cheaper community rates to hire a meeting room at our local library for local EHE families to get to together for ‘Show and Tell’ and group work. This was a huge benefit to all involved.


My son’s [personal information] he is flourishing within our method of home education.


We plan to do just a handful of UK exams and prefer to use a more international version of certification for our children. We don’t anticipate problems which need government help.


It would be helpful if exam centres were more readily available but we don’t want government funding, preferring to be independent from the local authorities.



      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


I have covered the reasons why “the wellbeing and academic achievement of home educated children” is more than sufficiently safeguarded in the first two points.


Firstly, ‘off-rolling’ is illegal as are unregistered schools and, as such, are covered by law already. Children who have been formally excluded from school are not automatically — and should not be — considered as being Electively Home Educated. It is the duty of the LEA to ensure that ‘off-rolled’, excluded children or other Children Missing Education are properly provided for. Unregistered schools need to be closed down using the grounds provided in law.


It is hugely frustrating for Elective Home Educators to be confused with the groups mentioned above. EHE is utterly different from Children Missing Education. It leads to negativity for the genuine home educating parent and their children.


It is not the local authority’s duty to safeguard every child in their area; they should concentrate on the children already within their remit.



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



My fellow home educators and I are from all walks of life, including those from teaching backgrounds. It is difficult for LEA employees to comprehend what makes the majority of home educators, regardless of their academic qualifications, successful in facilitating their children’s education.


I have stated why there is no need for specific safeguarding regulation. ‘Off-rolling’ and unregistered schools already are covered by law and should not be confused with EHE. So, why try to fix what is not broken?


Inspection is an unnecessary waste of time and finance. Hypothetically, it would also be incredibly difficult to find a way to inspect all EHE families with consistency. Home educating families are all very different in the methods they use for education; finding a consistent method to judge this would clip the wings of the freedom which we enjoy and put to such effective use.


Continuing on in this hypothetically inspection, for the balance of fairness, potentially any standard set when inspecting EHE families may also have to be the standard given to all school children!


Inspection would be nonsensical. We ‘electively’ choose to educate in this way. We do not need to be ‘licensed’ — which in effect would be what inspection would become.



      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


I only recently become aware of this document when reading the Call for Evidence detail. I’ve not read it yet so cannot comment.


However, from experience, I’ve not seen any improvements in support for home education in my local county ([location]) over the last several years.



      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


Educational Visits

Like all children, COVID-19 has effected home educated children. Home educators draw heavily on extra-curricula visits to museums, galleries, concerts and other places of cultural and educational interest. These obviously were all cancelled and, with the second lockdown now in force, we simply don’t know when this part of educational life will get back to normal.


My own children were excited about a visit scheduled to the Houses of Parliament this spring; it was cancelled and, although we were able to book an online version which was run very well, the children missed the experience of being there “in real life”.


We are filling the gap left by using online, virtual visits and sessions until COVID-19 restrictions pass.



Two of my children had music exam cancellations which meant a six-month delay in their grade progress.


Thankfully I hadn’t entered my [age]-year old to do her O level English Language exam this spring. So we’ve avoided the trauma that many home educated teenagers had this year with the cancelled exams and the difficulty getting teacher/tutor-marked results.


Due in part to the COVID-19 exam fiasco, our family is very likely to pursue a different examination route for the secondary years and use an American system of record keeping and SATs at the end.


Social Development

A part of full time education for home educated children is learning alongside other EHE children in homes, family-with-family, or outside in nature. Community is an important part of social development. For many families, this takes place by giving children time to play together. It is also an important time for the EHE parents to support each other and share ideas, which in turn is important for good mental health. This side of home education has been severely limited by COVID-19 restrictions.


It has not been easy to determine how rules for educational mixing could be applied to EHE families as the overlap between what is ‘educational’ and ‘social’ is naturally very blurred for home educators. There is only so much we can do on Zoom and other online platforms to bridge the gap. This has meant that some families within my local community have been isolated during 2020.



Elective Home Education is so very different from the COVID-19 ‘homeschooling' which has occurred this year. It is easy for many people to confuse them. I welcome the recent article on the DFE blog which highlights the differences.[3]


As long as COVID-19 health concerns exist, there will be parents wanting to take their children temporarily out of school. It is important to stress the difference between ‘pandemic schooling’ or ‘homeschooling’ as it has come to be know in the UK and ‘Elective Home Education’.







Let the Children Speak


It is important for children to have a voice and so I asked my four children several questions relating to the points in the call for evidence.


My four children have never been enrolled in school, state nor private. They have a wide range of hobbies, interests and abilities and would be in the equivalent of [year groups] if in mainstream school.


My children have never been given the choice to go to school as my husband and I are committed to electively home educate each child until at least the age of 16. However none of my children have ever requested to attend the local school. The majority of children in the UK are not given the option as to how to be educated but have to go to mainstream school whether they enjoy it or not so we do not see this lack of choice as unfair.


Different to many electively home educated children, they are the second-generation of electively home educated children.


I enjoyed the freedom of individualised home education so much all through my school years that it made perfect sense to me and my husband offer that style of education to our four children from birth. Home education was not as wide spread in my generation as it is now for my children’s peers so second generation home educators aren’t particularly common, yet.



What do you think to home education?


I think it’s absolutely fantastic; if I went to school, I wouldn’t have a chance to learn things to the depth that I can at home with Mum. I think I’d be vastly more stressed if I was trying to learn in a classroom environment.

[child], [age]


It’s great!

[child], [age]


It’s very, very fun and we are very blessed to have it.

[child], [age]


I like it.

[child], [age]


The benefits of EHE?


I always have the opportunity to drink tea, go outside and I have much more time to spend with my family. I can concentrate especially on things I love and, probably best of all, can have friends of all ages — from toddlers to elderly people!

[child], [age]


I don’t know what schools are like so I don’t know for sure. I like doing work with my mum and I get to see my friends. I can do my work in the afternoon or morning whenever it suits us. I like not having to go to a particular place to learn. I have more time to learn things that are interesting to me.

[child], [age]


I can do homework with my mum. I can have lots of breaks. I can do Blender programming all day sometimes, as long as I’ve done my Maths and piano and reading first.

[child], [age]


I can be with my mum and you don’t do as [much] tricky schoolwork.

[child], [age]


The disadvantages of EHE


Chemistry experiments would be a bit easier in a lab! Sport is slightly harder to participate in.

[child], [age]


Um, I don’t know. Probably nothing.

[child], [age]


I don’t get to see all my friends every day.

[child], [age]


I have brothers playing while I’m working so it’s really distracting because I want to play too. But when I finish, they’re working so I can’t play with the them. But I play with them once we’re all done!

[child], [age]



Do you have anything to say about the future of EHE?


Compulsory registration and inspection would take out the whole point of elective home education as we would likely end up losing the many freedoms we have right now. I definitely want to be able to home educate any children I might have in the future without restrictions and as freely as we can now.

[child], [age]


If I had kids I would want to homeschool them. I like the way we have freedom to home educate.

[child], [age]


Yes, I want more people to do home education because it’s really fun.

[child], [age]


I want to stay homeschooled and I want to be a vet and I will have a dog.

[child], [age]


How has COVID changed normal EHE for you?


It has meant that we can’t see friends easily. Music classes have had to be online, while my orchestras have stopped entirely; it’s really frustrating. My academic work hasn’t changed so I don’t have any gaps to catch up on, thankfully. But we used to spend lots of time listening to orchestras and visiting museums but obviously that has had to stop. One advantage has been that we’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot about hygiene and viruses — and it’s amazing to see how we’re actually living through history. Life has changed so fast.

[child], [age]


We haven’t been able to see friends as often. We missed out on a visit to the Houses of Parliament. I’ve missed all the educational days out that we used to do. Normally we have home ed friends into our house for activities but this has been made difficult because of social distancing and the lockdowns.

[child], [age]


I don’t get to see my friends a lot. And we can’t do educational visits to museums. And we haven’t been to see the orchestras in London.

[child], [age]


We can’t meet our friends as much as we used to. And we watch a lot of news now.

[child], [age]



I am happy for this submission and my name to be published, but my children’s names are to be kept anonymous to protect their identity. Thank you.


November 2020

              Page 9 of 9

[1] Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 states that:

The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable—

(1) to his age, ability and aptitude, and

(2) to any special educational needs he may have,

either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

[2] https://www.nheri.org/research-facts-on-homeschooling/



[3] https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2020/10/20/all-you-need-to-know-about-home-schooling-and-elective-home-education-ehe/