Name: Ruby Dunn

Reason for submitting: I was home-educated as a child and believe this opportunity should remain open, legal and supported for others to benefit from

Evidence type: the benefits to children of home-education


Until I was fifteen years old, I was home-educated. As a child this meant being able to learn at my own pace – both academically (reading books well above my ‘reading level’ such as Roman Woman by Lindsay Allason, Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson, Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens and Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen by the time I was ten) and socially (spending time developing significant and lasting friendships with peers of diverse ages and backgrounds, and being able to leave situations of bullying as issues began to appear). I also developed self-direction, as I learned very independently through my GCSEs, which benefitted my A-Level studies and still distinguishes me from state-school-educated compatriots. Home-education shaped my enthusiasm for my studies and interests by giving me the time and resources to pursue avenues of learning I found particularly fascinating – such as the Ancient Romans, which dominated my learning into my teens, and to which I have returned to at university. I was also able to pursue educational avenues that would not have been available to me in state-school – weekly drama lessons for LAMDA exams were a highlight of my teen years and greatly impacted my researching skills, my confidence and my appreciation for the arts. This educational framework meant that to me learning was something that was exciting, dynamic, and primarily self-led – rather than a chore imposed on me by others without justification.

Staying at home with my parents and siblings meant I developed more holistic family relationships, and was able to appreciate the complications of life in a supportive atmosphere. When my sister was unwell for a time, not being in school meant that I could go and visit her during hospital visiting hours without my learning being disrupted. When my brother experienced health issues in his teenage years, my parents were able to work with him to learn as much as he was able to, working through the issues he faced, rather than around them.

Home-education inculcated in me an appreciation for my community and the values of diversity and collaboration. As a child I was involved in volunteering at Nottingham Archives, where I learned from a range of academics and archivists about local history and the importance of local archives. I was also involved with volunteering with my church – especially spending time with the elderly at various events run by the church. My social activities ranged beyond volunteering – I was an active member of Girlguiding UK as first a Brownie and then a Guide (where I completed my Baden-Powell Award). For seven years I played netball with my town club, and I was involved in youth drama as well. Through these avenues, as well as educational groups run by home-educators and youth-groups run by my church, I made connections with people from many different walks of life, encountered myriad perspectives and made friendships that last to this day.

As a self-motivated teen, I finished my GCSE-level qualifications a year early. By the age of fifteen, I had the following qualifications: GCSE History (A*), IGCSE Geography (A*), IGCSE English Language (A*), IGCSE Biology (A), IGCSE Business Studies (A), IGCSE Maths (C), O-Level Religious Studies (A), O-Level English Literature (A*), LAMDA Grade 7 (silver medal) Verse and Prose for Performance (Distinction), LAMDA Grade 6 Verse and Prose (Distinction), LAMDA Grade 6 Acting Duologue (Merit), LAMDA Grade 4 Acting Solo (Merit) and Trinity College Clarinet Grade 3 (Merit). This academic success meant I was able to enter sixth-form a year early and take my A-Levels at the age of 17. Receiving an offer from Cambridge, and a commendation for my high performance in my entrance exams, I gained the following qualifications: A-Level Biology (A*), A-Level English (A), A-Level History (A), EPQ (A*). With these grades I am now in my second year at the University of St Andrews, ranked overall 3rd in the UK, reading History. At the end of my first year of study, I was awarded three academic prizes: the Ogglesby-Wellings Prize for Modern History, the Bullough Prize for Medieval History, the Class Medal for Modern History First Year, and I made the Deans List for my overall results for the year.

I have no idea what my life would have been like without home-education; I do not know if I would have achieved the same levels of academic success had I been in school. However, I benefitted emotionally and socially from the ability to learn and develop at my own pace, I retain a deep enthusiasm for learning and an awareness of the diverse and nuanced nature of community and heritage. I am extremely thankful for the many ways in which being home-educated shaped who I am and believe that it is a great credit to our nation that as an opportunity it remains open, diverse and flexible.