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 call for evidence from the Education Committee: Home Education




[member of the public]


Author [name of book]


Founder of [organisation]






About me


I am first and foremost a home educating mother to my [age] daughter.


I am also a [occupation]. I work as [occupation]. I have taught parents all over the world, working with over a thousand families to date, through my business [organisation].




I am responding both in a personal capacity, as a home educating parent and as someone who was home educated myself, and in my professional capacity as a [occupation].

I will respond to each of the submission prompts in turn.

Whether a statutory register of home-educated children is required.

I do not believe that a statutory register of home educated children is required, or would  bring any meaningful change or progress.

I understand the arguments put forward in favour of a register, but the most vulnerable home educated children will in most cases already be known by Local Authorities. Just as children who are enrolled in schools are sadly not prevented from being harmed and abused by adults who wish to do them harm, nor would creating a register protect the most vulnerable children who are home educated. My worry is that having a register would actually detract from the real work needed to ensure that all children - schooled or home educated - are protected from violence, neglect, and abuse.

We know that the factors which are protective in supporting children and families are tackling poverty and inequality, providing safe and suitable housing for all families, providing robust support to women and children who are victims of domestic violence, breaking the cycle of trauma-based parenting, and creating laws and policies which genuinely protect children’s rights. These are harder to implement than a register, but ultimately these are the things which will protect children. The Government could begin by banning smacking in England if it is serious about wanting to safeguard children.

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

Speaking from personal experience as someone who was home educated myself until I was seven, and as a home educating mother of a primary school aged child who has never been to school, here are just some of the many positives:

    Children learn at their own pace, without being compared and ranked alongside classmates. Children who learn when they are ready learn better and more easily, and will develop a strong sense of self worth. Without a sense of being “behind” or “ahead”, children can enjoy learning for the sake of learning, taking their time when something is harder for them and going deeper into areas which they are naturally gifted in.

    Children can learn what they are interested in, developing deep intrinsic motivation and acquiring the skills to learn. My daughter has learnt to write not through worksheets, but writing birthday party invitations to her toys, and has spent months learning about human evolution and the stone age because she is fascinated by it. We can dive deep into her interests without “falling behind” or needing to move onto the next thing.

    Access to a broader education. A “curriculum” can be tailored to each individual child. My [age] year old daughter is learning Latin, Spanish, and French, simply because she is interested in languages. She also learns philosophy, history, science, nature study, gardening, maths, art practice and appreciation, physics, biology, grammar, music, geography, chemistry, cookery, poetry, singing, and so much more - because she can, and she is not constrained by the national curriculum or a class of thirty children. Her learning doesn’t know any bounds - if she is curious about something, we can learn about it.

    Mental health benefits. Research from Barbados (2018) shows 65 percent of 12-year-old children are concerned about school, with 25 percent feeling stressed about being bullied at school. By age 16, stress over school increased to 83 percent. Anecdotally, I’ve spoken to many teachers and parents who have seen children as young as five, six and seven displaying symptoms of severe school-related anxiety. This is not healthy and it is not OK. And we know from research that stress inhibits learning; home education provides children the opportunity to learn without this toxic stress.

    Access to nature and time outdoors; opportunities for movement. Research shows clearly that a lack of access to nature and time outdoors is detrimental to children’s social, emotional, physical and academic development. Home education provides a chance for children to spend copious time outdoors, in parks, on beaches, in nature spots and in back gardens. This access to nature is hugely beneficial for all aspects of human health, and research shows clearly that physical movement allows for higher retention of knowledge.

    The chance to rest when tired or sick without the stress of draconian attendance policies. I hope my daughter will learn to listen to her needs and rest when she needs to, rather than experiencing the chronic exhaustion and stress so many adults experience in their working lives.

    The opportunity to learn alongside and socialise with children of all ages and from all walks of life and free from the toxic culture of bullying which is rife in so many schools across the country.

    A change to develop strong attachments and relationships with parents and siblings.

If home education is carried out well, with the strong foundation of a positive and supportive parent/child relationship and enough support and access to resources, there is no reason why there should be any disadvantages faced at all. Home education provides an incredible advantage for children from all walks of life. The only disadvantages we have experienced have come from others' prejudices and defensiveness when it comes to the subject of home education.

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 would very much like to see financial support to subsidise or pay completely for home educated children’s exams, including if these exams are taken earlier or later than usual. It seems only fair, especially if parents are shouldering all of the costs until that point, at a great saving to the Local Authority.

I would also like to see financial support more generally offered to home educators, particularly those on low wages. This could either take the form of a cash sum or vouchers which could be used for books, classes or courses, trips, or other homeschooling materials. This money should be ring fenced in such a way that it could only be used to benefit the child’s education.

Careers and university application advice should be provided to home educated teens, this could easily be done via online sessions from a central team of experts.

Many families find it extremely difficult to access specialist services and support after removing a child with additional needs from school, and provision needs to be made urgently for providing a clear pathway which will enable parents to get the quality support they need for their children.

Regarding support in general, families will only feel supported if their Local Authority officer is highly knowledgeable (not only around mainstream education but all forms of education and how these different models can be implemented in the home), deeply supportive, and encouraging. 

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’.

It is really important to recognise that, broadly, home educating families in the UK fall under two camps (please note this is a generalisation, and of course some families will straddle both camps or not fit into either).

On the one side, you have families who are home educating their children by choice, due to a strong belief in the numerous positives of home education. These families are usually incredibly well researched and well resourced, with strong support networks, a clear educational framework (even if this looks very different to mainstream schooling), and a willingness to really throw themselves into providing a positive, enriching educational experience for their children.

On the other side are families who did not set out to home educate, and are home educating as a last resort, sometimes at great cost to their livelihoods or relationships. They might find themselves forced to home educate due to their children having been excluded from schools or “off rolled”, or not given adequate support around SEND. They also might have been forced to remove their child to protect their mental health following bullying, or acute school-related stress. The families in this group are likely to include some of the most vulnerable children, and it is imperative that these families are offered robust ongoing support from Local Authorities and/or specialist organisations in order to ensure their welfare and access to appropriate educational opportunities. The majority of these families can thrive with proper support and encouragement, though in some cases the ideal outcome will be for a suitable school place to be found.

With regards to academic achievement, I believe the current regulatory framework is adequate, though I would like to see far more robust and sensitive support given to the families of children in the latter group (and to any and all families who request it).

With regards to wellbeing in general, there is already a regulatory framework relating to the wellbeing of children. This framework already applies equally to school educated and home educated children, and I do not believe there is a need to create specific frameworks for home educated populations.

With regards to unregistered schools, I share the Committee’s concerns and absolutely agree that these need to be tackled. But as far as I understand it, the issue is not that Local Authorities and/or Ofsted are unaware that children are attending these illegal schools - often they know full well that they are operating - but rather that they lack powers and resources to do anything about them. The regulation to prevent these “schools” already exists, after all, so I can’t see that more regulation is the answer. I believe that more community outreach, more research into why parents are choosing these “schools”, and support linked to increased powers and funding for Local Authorities would have a greater impact than increasing regulation.

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

If inspection is to play a role in any future regulation of home education (which I must stress I do not believe is necessary), it is absolutely imperative that inspectors should be thoroughly trained in alternative methods of education, including but not limited to Montessori, Steiner Waldorf,  Charlotte Mason, Reggio Emilia, the Forest School approach, and unschooling / life learning, as well as a variety of more mainstream models of education and educational theories. Many families will be educating their children according to these ideas, and inspection will be useless at best, actively harmful at worst, if inspectors do not have a clear, strong, proven understanding of a wide range of alternative and mainstream pedagogies and educational methods.

Inspectors will also need a proven, deep understanding of SEND education across the board including a range of learning differences and how these present themselves in daily life and learning, and a good working knowledge of what trauma-informed education looks like in practice, alongside a deep knowledge of educational and child psychology..

Inspectors should ideally have personal experience of home education themselves, or a track record of supporting and championing home-based and alternative education, and should be given explicit and thorough anti-bias training to ensure that they are not “marking down” families for being poor, or disabled, or Black, or not speaking English as a first language. These are just a few examples.

Given these requirements as a bare minimum, I am sure the Committee will agree that it will be challenging to say the least to recruit and hire a large number of individuals with such a skillset.

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.

Rather than a renewed partnership between home educating families and Local Authorities, there is a deep lack of trust in many home educating communities, stemming from encounters with officials who are uninformed or downright hostile to home education. This has to stop, and there needs to be urgent upskilling and/or replacement or those working in LAs to ensure that they are properly qualifies to provide genuine support and partnership to home educating families.

Also on the 2012 report, many home educating families eagerly anticipated the following:

“The development of a more formalised professional association of, and/or annual conference for, home education officers, driven by those in the profession themselves, could be a welcome step in terms of sharing best practice nationally…”


The “organisation” formed in response to this took the name “The Association of Elective Home Education Professionals.” (AEHEP). Five years later it had no traceable office or accreditation, and an FOI showed they were secretly advising Lord Soley. This was a deep disappointment for home educating families who believed that these officers actually had home educating families best interests at heart.


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.


I have been very concerned to witness the impact that exam cancellations has had on home educated children. It often feels as though home educated children are not considered, or considered only at the last minute.This was a grave oversight, and I was appalled to see that there is there is no record of the Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, pressing the Government to provide grades for home educated candidates. In the future under similar circumstances, it would be good to see specific allowances for home educated children to either sit exams or have grades provided through parent or tutor transcripts.

There also needs to be an understanding of the importance of (formal and informal) home education groups and meet-ups to provide children with the social interaction they need. The majority of home educating families belong to thriving social groups and home education networks where the children can learn and play alongside other children of all ages, and these are vital to their sense of wellbeing and social and emotional development. It would be good to see specific guidance on how home education groups could meet in a Covid-secure manner.

However, it must be said that many home educated children have adapted remarkably well to the Covid restrictions and uncertainty. Unlike millions of children around the country, their education was not disrupted when the country went into lockdown and the schools shut; I know that apart from missing her wider family and regular playdates, my daughter’s life changed very little during that time, and she continued to learn to read, multiply, speak foreign languages, create science experiments and do art without the disturbance her schooled peers experienced, all whilst feeling safe and loved at home with her parents.


In conclusion, I think that the Department for Education guidance on home education already sums up the mood amongst home educators perfectly:

“Children learn in different ways and at different times and speeds…. It should be noted that parents from all educational, social, religious and ethnic backgrounds successfully educate children outside the school setting, and these factors should not themselves raise a concern about the suitability of the education being provided.” (DfE, 2018).

I have seen first hand with my own daughter how effective and impactful home education can be. Children have a right to learn in an environment which feels safe, nourishing, calm and supportive, and which supports them to develop their interests and skills free from the pressure of comparison, punishments, bullying, and toxic stress.

I hope and trust that the Government will continue to enthusiastically support children’s right to be educated at home, in a way which supports them to develop at their own pace and to truly thrive.

I am happy to provide further evidence, in writing or in person.

November 2020