HED0882

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 Home Educating mum to 2 children.  My husband and I chose to home educate when our eldest was very young.  We know with certainty that it has been the best decision for our family.  It has come at great financial sacrifice, as I quit my [occupation] with a 6 figure salary - thus cutting our household income by 70% - in order for me to provide full time education to our children.  To say that the sacrifice is worth it, is an understatement. I feel immensely privileged to be “raising the whole” child, with their education being a critical component.

 

 

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

 

Local authorities already have powers to intervene where they have reason to

believe that children are not receiving an adequate education, or are at risk of abuse.

The current approach strikes an appropriate balance between family privacy and

child protection – local authorities have substantial powers to intervene when they

have good reason to believe there is a problem. Giving already overstretched local

authorities even more responsibility for safeguarding home-educated children would

make authorities increasingly risk-averse. To protect themselves from criticism, they

would be under pressure to interfere in the lives of law-abiding families like us,

distracting them from the children most at risk.

 

 

Whether a statutory register of home educated children is required;

 

Home Education is not the easy choice.  Being with children is hard work, and for those who are irresponsible it is far easier to “outsource” their children for 6 hours a day than have them at home, even if no education is being provided. For irresponsible parents, it is much easier to make their child’s education “someone else’s concern”. These parents don’t choose Home Education. 

 

Parents who choose to home educate do so for very specific reasons, because they believe it will benefit their child/children, not because they think it is the easy option.

 

A mandatory register is therefore not necessary.  A mandatory register appears to be nothing but a worrying sign of state intervention in private family life.

It would give the state unwarranted power over parents. It is already a parent’s legal responsibility to educate a child, so why should they have to register with the state to perform a duty already placed upon them?

 

 

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

 

 

My children are thriving in their Home Education journey. Our family could not ask for a better learning environment and I hope I can adequately convey why this is the case.

 

Our schedule has been designed around the specific needs of my children, and their individual learning styles, interests and abilities.  They are not forced to conform to a specific checklist created to suit the masses. Human beings are individuals who should be treated as such.

 

My children take part in the following activities:

Gymnastics, Piano Lessons, French Lessons, Multi Sports Lessons, Swimming Lessons, Ballet Lessons, Rock Climbing Lessons, & Art Lessons.  These are all provided by tutors other than myself, so my children have the benefit of learning from subject matter experts, passionate in their field. These lessons take place in small groups with other children, which is hugely beneficial as my children have learned to work in groups, but also independently.

 

At home we cover formal subjects including Maths, Language Arts, History, Biology, Science, Geography and Social Studies.

 

However, learning is not just confined to this subject list, or to school type text books and worksheets.  Learning happens all the time.  Children’s brains are wired to learn from the minute they are born (every parent knows all too well the toddler stage of asking “why?” a million times a day).

 

My children have been given the freedom to learn in their own way.  Questions constantly flow and they are highly inquisitive. We frequently discuss philosophy, theology, and politics, to name just a few subject areas which are not necessarily covered in a “formal” sense given their ages ([ages]), but may well be subjects they choose to pursue later.  Home education affords this possibility which may otherwise be squashed in a more prescriptive environment. 

 

My son has a passion for [personal information].  This has opened the doors to learning about a myriad of subjects. He knows about the minting process (with a visit to the Royal Mint of course!).  He knows about the equipment used, the materials and their composition.  He knows about the history of the minting process and the Royal Mint itself. He has studied the coins in his collection and the historical events they represent. He has learned about decimalisation and the affect it had on British society when a new monetary system was introduced. His [personal information] as he works out dates and the ages of coins, also the handling of the coins themselves, knowing their face value versus collector value. I could write an essay on this alone, as we have covered a multitude of subject areas, under the banner of “coin collecting”.  This learning has happened with passion and enthusiasm as it is a subject which excites him.  School could not offer anything close to this, even with the most dedicated staff, with endless resource.

 

My son was reading independently (chapter books) by [age].  My daughter [personal information] and would no doubt have learned to treat books as the enemy had she been in that environment.

However, we gave [personal information] We felt extremely confident in this approach as we have done much research which conclusively shows a huge variance in children’s reading ages. Home Education offered us this flexibility to meet the needs of our specific child. 

 

My daughter is a [personal information] I know this because I am with my children many hours in a week.  I have their best interests at heart and can meet their needs better than anyone because I know them better than anyone.

 

 

Home education has helped my children to problem solve and work things out for themselves. This is because the very nature of it means they have a role to play in choosing what goes into their day and how their time is spent. They would not be afforded this choice at such a young age if they were elsewhere. This will help set them up for managing their time & resources in adult life.  

 

My children have a thriving social life.  Many people outside of home education falsely believe that socialisation is problem when in fact the opposite is true. My children socialise with a variety of people in a variety of settings, across all age groups. We visit libraries, museums and historical buildings.  My children don’t just learn from a text book in a classroom but get to learn in real world settings, they get to see “the real deal”.

 

The disadvantages they may face relate to society’s misinformation about home education.  Some people may think home educated people are mis-fits who are unsocialised and uneducated, when the complete opposite is true. 

 

The research for success of home educated people is overwhelmingly positive and we see this playing out before our very eyes for our own children.

 

 

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;

 

Support should be entirely voluntary, available on request from parents. There must be no implication that not requesting support, or declining to follow advice offered, is a cause for concern.

 

The home education community itself provides much support for families entering this way of life.  I have not met a home educating family who feels they want more support from the Local authority, as they receive it via the community itself.  In fact, Home educators often report being treated with unwarranted suspicion by local authorities, rather than being supported.

 

I cannot comment on the quality of support offered for those with special education needs, disabilities, mental health issues or caring responsibilities as these do not feature in our family. 

 

 

Personally I do not want any financial assistance, as then the state may argue they have the right to set criteria for home educating families.

 

 

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 see no problems with the current regulatory framework. 

 

Elective home education is often unhelpfully conflated with other issues. Considering them together leads to confused and ineffective policy. Elective home education is being unfairly linked with unregistered or illegal schools, with exclusion, and with off-rolling. These are completely separate matters, and dealing with them properly means focusing on them and not elective home education.

 

Home Education should not be associated with child abuse. This is a totally separate issue which authorities already have wide powers to deal with. Many parents remove their children from school in order to protect them from abuse occurring within school.

 

 

Home educated children are much less likely to need state intervention to protect them than children educated in school. Research in 2015 found home educated children in England were two to three times less likely to be subject to a child protection plan than children in school, despite being twice as likely to be referred to social services. Home education protects children from the alarming levels of sexual harassment and abuse that has been widely documented in the school environment.

 

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

 

 

Inspection should not take place.  The whole point of home education is the ability to provide tailored education specific to the individual.  It would be impossible for a suitable decision to be made about the appropriateness of the educational provision unless some sort of specific criteria is drawn up.  This completely removes the primary reason most parents choose to home educate.

 

In addition it be a worrying and inappropriate action for strangers to enter private homes in this manner. This is a worrying sign of increased state interference in family life.

 

November 2020