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.]

I am a home educating parent. We have been home educating for nearly [number] years. I wish my experiences to be included.

My story is similar to many others but is different too: My two children were let down by their schools, which sadly seems to be pretty normal for people who find themselves home educating, but they were let down because they are extremely bright children who were being held back by the education system.

In [date] my then [age] year old daughter was put on medication for Abdominal Migraines caused by stress and anxiety. She was not eating properly and was hypervigilant. Her transition to her [place] middle school had not been easy and her new teacher was emotionally abusive. The behaviours she witnessed in school were upsetting for a compliant well-mannered child. We later put in a formal complaint to the governors and they ‘dealt with it internally’.

At the same time my [age] year old son was finding primary school boring. As a toddler he had taught himself to read and do times tables, and the school were willing to let us flexischool him through his [school year] year so we could do extension activities. In [school year] he had to go full-time in school and he started to hate reading and maths. The school had identified his giftedness in Maths and were giving him [school year] work in [school year], and then [school year] work in [school year], but were unable to take him further for fear of treading on toes in the middle school. He was hating being singled out for ‘extra work’, as he saw it. He was rapidly losing interest in learning.

Home education has been totally amazing for us. We have been able to build a personalised learning plan for each child, learn when the children are most responsive, rest if they are tired, go deep into a subject that interests them, have trips and interactive experiences, go travelling around the UK and internationally, and spend valuable time together as a family – all the more valuable as my husband works shifts, and pre-home education days we would often only have one or two days a month all together due to school versus shift patterns. We have been able to develop the children’s natural strengths and work on their weaknesses at their own pace, without making them feel inferior or failures.

Within 7 weeks of being home educated my daughter came off her medication as she felt so much more relaxed and happy. She took her first GCSE at [age and subject]. She took it with Grandad who had studied with her; the oldest and youngest on the course that year! Her obvious intellect had been completely overlooked in schools. She is sitting [subject] GCSE in November 2020 aged [age].

My son is gifted in [subject] and at age [age] is taking [subject] GCSE this November. Home Education has allowed him to follow his passion and gifting. Everyone who meets my children says they are amazing, kind, thoughtful, fun and clever. They are actively involved in our village life and many different clubs, sports and church groups. They are well rounded individuals.

In the last 5 years I have completed 2 other documents for the government about home education and spoken to my MP [constituency MP] about the changed that are being proposed. It concerns me very much that there are regular inquiries by government into how home education can be regulated without really listening to the problems that people have with schools. I would not have started on our home education journey if the situation in schools was better. Rather than adding burdensome rules for us home educating families, I suggest making schools a better place for students to learn, to be safe, with smaller class sizes and more personalised subjects is a better option. If schools were better then parents might be happier about sending their children.

I do not believe a new register is necessary. My children are on a register of ‘children deregistered from school’ already, for all the good it does! The ‘help and support’ we receive is laughable. The LEA write a letter every year and I tell them all the wonderful things we have been doing. When I asked about assistance with exam fees I was told there was nothing available and we have to fund it all ourselves. If I am going to pay for it all myself then there is no need for anyone to come and check up on the education I provide for my children. I take full responsibility for my children, and their learning and their futures. Thankfully I found a school that is willing to take external candidates so my children can take their exams. But I recognise that not everyone is in the same good financial position as us. I get most of my support from home ed groups, friends and facebook groups.

My children have mostly enjoyed this Covid year! We took in a fostered teenager at the start of lockdown (we are foster carers) and tried to make the 3 months as much fun as possible. They are starting to find the constantly changing restrictions difficult, where we can do something one week and not the next. We cannot meet up with friends like we used to or do some of our sporting activities. They are finding that hard. Our preferred method of learning is to be active and visiting lots of museums, stately homes, parks, galleries etc. Clearly that has all had to stop due to the Coronavirus. Allowing these places to be opened for pre-arranged home education visits would be really helpful for us.

I recognise that my children are exceptional, but had they stayed in school I feel that they would have been overlooked and their potential remained untapped. Many children who are home educated may not have such great academic potential due to SEN, but can thrive practically and learn some great life skills from their families. They may not ‘do well’ being home educated, but they certainly would not have ‘done well’ in school either!

I do not feel that inspections are necessary. If there are concerns about a child’s welfare that is already covered by social services and child protection. I would not want my children judged by someone coming into my home. I have concerns about what they would be judged against. Home education looks so different in every house because it is dependant on the child and the family. If we are to be judged against the national curriculum then we should be given the same funding that schools are given per child to make it a level playing field for parents to fulfil the obligations to that curriculum.


November 2020