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: Home Education.

I am a parent of 3 children and have been home educating them for almost [a number of] years. I took my 2 eldest out of school after seeing the spark for learning gradually fade away to nothing in my then [age] year old. By the time she had reached [year group] the constant testing and assessing had eroded away any sense of pride she had once in her school work. This combined with large amounts of homework and a growing pressure to cram in more and more work (her year 4 teacher once told me that they were being expected to teach year 6 level maths!) saw myself and my Husband begin to look into Home Educating. It was at this point that we decided to remove our children from school and begin Home Educating. The freedom and quality of life it has given our family is immeasurable. We found we were able to take the children and go on extended trips whenever we felt the need, in the first year of us home educating our children were able to experience several trips around the UK that they never would have got the opportunity to do had they been in school. We are able to tailor their education to their personalities and preferences, we can see their progress day to day and get to spend a lot of quality time with them. They have an amazing set of friends who are also home educated, they attend several groups (in non covid times) and extra curricular activities such as swimming, gymnastics, brownies/guides, youth club and forest school to name a few.

I personally do not see the need for any type of register, no child is truly ‘hidden’ in this day and age as suggested a few years ago in a government report. Most home ed children are registered at Drs surgeries, dentists etc and have a birth certificate, have been seen by health visitors at some point and if attending clubs will have their information logged. Just because a child does not go to school it does not mean they are hermits who are kept prisoners by their parents! I understand that there are certain unregistered schools in some areas of the UK which is why this inquiry has come about, however would it not be better to focus on investigating how and why these schools are able to come into existence in the first place? Requiring every single person who is being Home Educated to be added to a list akin to a Sex Offenders register is not the way to put a stop to the practice of unregistered schools.

In the [number of] years we have been home educating we have had contact from the EHE department 4 times, by 3 different people, I have never felt forced or required to have a home visit and so I have sent in our Educational Philosophy to outline how we do things. So far this has been sufficient for them, however I do have real concerns that if they are given more powers to be able to insist upon home visits this would further alienate parents and encourage them to go ‘off radar’. The EHE officers employed by local councils are often not qualified teachers and do not know our children. Every home educating family does things slightly differently, that is the beauty of Home educating, you are able to have the flexibility to design your childrens education to them. No EHE officer will know our children better than we do, they can advise on what websites to visit or what books to read but the chances are that any good home educating parent will have already done these things. I understand that there needs to be a department to ‘support’ home educators, but so far I have not had anything from them that I could not have found myself online or at the local library. Therefore I do not agree that there should be any form of ‘inspection’ for a home educating family unless there are genuine concerns for the childrens welfare via social services.

Finally I would like to add that obviously Covid has altered our home education experience significantly, however not to the extent that most school children have been affected. We suddenly had a whole world of support and resources that usually charge such as online learning subscriptions etc were being offered for free making them more accessible. A big part of what we do as a family is travelling around and going on trips (something severely lacking in schools now) which obviously has been affected by regional restrictions, so this changed but it also gave us a new appreciation for our local area. We went on many walks, as did most of our home educating friends, we enjoyed the slower pace of life and due to my Husband also working from home, we were able to spend more time together as a family. So for us and many other home educators it has not been a terrible time as some may imagine. We are missing some of our groups that have not yet restarted and I know things wont be the same for some time but I feel that people now have a broader understanding of what it means to Home Educate. We don’t call it home schooling here as we are not trying to recreate school at home but I know a lot more people are currently considering it as an option. That is the most important thing in my eyes, that we as parents have options. We can make decisions for our children, with our children, made in the best interests of them and for their welfare. Parents need to be trusted to know what is best for their children and not constantly told that the best place for them is in school, because for some children, it just isn’t.

November 2020