Written evidence submitted by Ms Jill Harris


It is parents who are responsible for the quality of home education, not the local authority. Local authorities only have a role in either the quality of the education or in safeguarding of home educated children where there is evidence of significant concerns or risks. International law requires national and local government to assume that parents are acting in the best interests of their children unless there is specific evidence to the contrary.


What would be the purpose of such a register, given that local authorities have no routine role regarding home educated children? Without any legitimate grounds for such a register it would be ultra vires.


Stronger and healthier family relationships and community connections; greater flexibility in the range, depth, duration and focus of what can be learned; exquisitely personalised approach to learning; adaptability to changing circumstances, opportunities and needs; avoidance of one-size-fits-all approach and timescale; avoidance of bullying, stress; ability to learn/explore at own pace and at a time that suits personal circumstances and real-life experiences.


Colleges have very little understanding of home ed, especially of unschooling, and it has been a struggle to get them to understand that unschooled children may have a very different learning trajectory to schooled children. The un-co-operative approach of most local councils mean that lots of home-educators choose to stay “under the radar”, so any attempts at offering “support” to home educators will only succeed if this is addressed first, and parents are respected as acting in the best interests of their child(ren) unless there is specific evidence of concerns.


Concerns about unregistered schools and about exclusions/off-rolling should be addressed under powers relating to schools that rather than under home education, as the legal context is completely different. The well-being and academic achievement of home educated children is legally the responsibility of their parents, not national or local government. Evidence shows that academic achievements for home educated children are at least as good as for schooled children. The vast majority of safeguarding concerns are for schooled children, and the very few who are not, are children who have already been known to social services, and who have been failed by social services – not because of anything relating to home education or because of any lack of powers to intervene, but because of a failure to apply existing legislation.


There are no grounds for either regulation or inspection of home education – education is a parental responsibility, not a national or local government responsibility. The government responsibility is to provide schools, but even when parents do choose to access school services to educate their child(ren), it remains a parental responsibility to educate their child(ren) – which is exactly why parents can't sue a school for failing to educate their child. The schools are inspected because they are a service provided by the government, and educate children on behalf of the parents, so both parties have an interest in some form of assessment of how this is being done. When a parent home educates, they provide the education directly, so already know exactly what is happening, and the local government has no role, so neither party has any reason for an assessment. There is no evidence of home education being less effective than school education, so no grounds for implementing or imposing any form of regulation or inspection.



November 2020