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Home education doubles, with schools left to ‘pick up pieces’ when it fails

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The number of pupils leaving school to be educated at home has almost doubled over the past six years, an investigation by Schools Week reveals.

The influx also appears to have driven a rise in the number of home-educated pupils returning to schools – which headteachers say is leaving them “picking up the pieces” when home education fails.

Councils, meanwhile, say that more parents are removing their children from school to avoid prosecution for poor attendance or because the pupil might be at risk of exclusion.

Senior education figures, including the former education secretary Estelle Morris, are calling for change. She has lodged a bid to change the law so that councils have to inspect children who are home educated.

The former Conservative MP Neil Carmichael, who chaired the education select committee, says it is “very difficult” for teachers to help pupils who have been poorly home educated to catch up after “huge chunks of time”.

He urges schools to keep a “weather eye” on children who look like they might be home educated, adding it is “absolutely appalling” if parents pull their children out of school without the “best motives”, such as to dodge fines.

However, home educators say parents only choose to home educate pupils considered “difficult” when schools fail to engage them properly.
Figures gathered by Schools Week show the number of home-educated pupils rose from 15,135 in 2011-12, to 29,805 this year.

But that last figure is likely to be higher as not all pupils are registered, and only 86 out of 152 councils responded to our Freedom of Information request, with figures dating back to 2011.

Councils say dissatisfaction with the school system, greater awareness of home education, not getting a preferred school place and bullying are the major reasons for the rise.

But they also cite “risk of court action”, as parents face fines if their child has poor school attendance.

Schools Week’s analysis also shows a steep increase in the number of home-educated primary pupils in certain year groups.

The number pulled from school in year 5 just before their SATs has risen by 179 per cent over the past six years, followed by a 170 per cent rise in year 4, and a 141 per cent rise in year 6.

Parents were home educating to avoid prosecutions for poor school attendance

However, the rise in home education seems to be accompanied by an increase in pupils later returning to school. There’s been a 60 per cent rise in the numbers coming back, whether into mainstream or otherwise.

A total of 1,601 returned to school in 2011-12, compared with 2,575 this year, according to the 44 councils able to provide returner figures.

Rob Gasson, chief executive of the Acorn Academy Trust in Cornwall, which provides alternative provision, said more children are coming into his schools who “haven’t been receiving an education”. Five who were formerly home educated arrived this year.

“It leaves us to pick up the pieces. I know one boy who’s been taken out of school because he was getting into trouble, and he’s now doing door-to-door car washing. It’s ridiculous.”

He said more parents were “home educating” to avoid prosecutions for poor school attendance.

Many councils agree. Ten of the 33 that gave Schools Week reasons for home education mentioned behaviour, threat of prosecution, or risk of exclusion.

The “primary reason” for home education has “changed from ideological or religious reasons, to concern for their child’s welfare or unresolved difficulties relating to behaviour or attendance”, said North-east Lincolnshire council.

Councils also said parents often send their children back to school because of the costs of home education. They must pay to enter children into exams, with schools charging up to £150 for a GCSE and £200 for an A-level, according to Oxford Home Schooling, which provides syllabuses for home educators.

Parents also realise home education is not meeting their child’s needs, say five councils, while another four say parents return pupils because the council has ordered them to.

But Mike Wood, a former home educator and owner of the website Home Education UK, says some schools are creating a “hostile environment” if pupils have difficult behaviour.

“These are not feckless parents. In many cases it’s schools not dealing with issues as they should.”

He says local authorities should prosecute parents who do not provide a proper home education, but that home inspections would be expensive and ineffective.

A Department for Education spokesperson said it respected parents’ rights to educate their children at home, a responsibility many take “very seriously”.

But they added: “Schools are encouraged to notify the local authority if a child has been removed for home education. All authorities also have a duty to identify, so far as possible, children not receiving suitable full-time education.”

Bill proposes annual inspections by councils

A former education secretary is among those demanding a change in the law to give councils greater powers to intervene in home education.

Estelle Morris has introduced a private members’ bill in the House of Lords, on behalf of Labour peer Lord Soley, urging that councils monitor the “educational, physical and emotional development” of home-educated children.

But home education supporters say the plan to include yearly inspections inside homes is “draconian” and will treat parents like criminals.

Lord Storey, the Liberal Democrat spokesperson on education and a former head who has regularly questioned the government on home schooling, told Schools Week the current law was insufficient.

“There should be a right to home tuition. But without being too bureaucratic about it, it does need to be approved, and once it’s approved it needs to be properly monitored.”

Currently, a parent of a school-age child must ensure he or she gets a full-time education “either by regular attendance at school or otherwise”, and that it must be suitable to their age and ability.

Councils must issue a school attendance order to parents, forcing their child to go to school “if it appears to the local education authority” that the child is “not receiving a suitable education”.

But the private members’ bill, which was heard in the Lords last week, proposes that local authorities should have to assess home-educated children once a year.

The assessment “may include” a visit to their home, interviewing the child, looking at their work and interviewing the parent, say the proposals. Parents must also provide any information relevant to the assessment if asked.

You really are on your own if you home educate, and that’s poor

The bill also proposes that home-educated children should be registered with the local authority – a practice many councils already have.

Greg Smith, head of operations at Oxford Home Schooling, a not-for-profit trust that provides syllabuses for home educators, says the bill has spawned a Facebook group of 400 parents, many of whom feel the measures are “draconian”.

The only other occasion on which the state has the right to enter your home is “if you’ve committed a crime”, he says.

Some local authorities treat home education “like truancy”, or as a safeguarding problem, rather than working with parents.

“You really are on your own if you home educate, and that’s poor – councils should be supporting you.”

Parents who tried to engage with councils had sometimes been treated to a “series of lectures on safeguarding”.

However, Neil Carmichael, the former chair of the influential education select committee, says that he knows of instances in which children have been seriously neglected when home educated.

Home education as a solution to behavioural or attendance issues in school also “just does not make sense” and would likely “exacerbate” the problem.

“This is one of those issues that hasn’t got the traction it deserves yet. The more it gets raised, the better.”

The bill is due to be discussed further in the Lords.

Case study 1: “the school just said OK”

Sandy* says that the school her boys attended changed when a new head took over. The emphasis, she says, became rules, rules and more rules.

Text messages arrived every day. The reasons for detention were “ridiculous. It was non-stop”.

Her sons, who both scored highly in the 11-plus, were spending a lot of time in isolation. “They weren’t given proper work in there.”

Her husband went to a meeting with the headteacher who asked if they had looked at sending the boys to other schools. “We said they’re full, and then he said, have you considered home education? And we said no, we haven’t.”

When the couple later decided in favour of home education, they say the school “just said OK”.

They now pay a tutor £60 for three hours a week of maths, English and science.

Sandy does history and geography with them, and French with one. Before the election they also studied philosophy and ethics.

“It takes me about two hours a day for all the research and printing. Teaching the boys is another few hours a day.”

Case study 2: “a life-changing decision”

Cassie’s* parents move around the world a lot with their business and wanted to be able to take Cassie and her three younger siblings with them without disrupting their schooling.

They also believe the education system does not always bring out the greatest potential in children – and say Cassie had been bullied and lost confidence.

So they decided to home educate. Cassie worked with tutors to sit eight iGCSEs in 2014 and three A-levels in 2016. She is now set to study English literature at King’s College London.

“It was a life-changing decision. From having to pick up the telephone and talk with my tutors, to writing my first assignment, many milestones were marked,” she says.

She used textbooks and resources from an online website.

But it wasn’t always easy.

“There were essays I didn’t want to write and questions I didn’t know how to answer.”

But she says that home schooling has given her confidence to talk to new people “as you sort of have to when you’re at home”.

Self-studying also prepared her for the low contact hours at university.

Case study 3: a change of policy

The number of home-educated pupils in Milton Keynes has remained fairly stable over the past four years following the council’s “proactive and robust” approach to “suitability” of provision.

In 2014-15, 0.65 per cent of the local authority’s pupil cohort were home-educated, which fell slightly to 0.56 per cent this year.

Meanwhile, the number of pupils returning to mainstream education has continued to rise, from 14 in 2013-14 to 61 this year.

The council did not monitor home education before 2015-16 but, in line with its legal duty, took action only if provision was “not suitable”.

Now, schools have to fill out a form when a parent chooses to home educate, outlining any concerns. Then parents compile a programme about what they’re teaching, including evidence.

The programme is reviewed by a qualified teacher before a parent gets the go-ahead. If not, a specialist team visits the home to find out more.

If the council still isn’t satisfied, the parents are issued with a prosecution notice to get the child back in school.

A particularly important change is the new “fair access” process that requires a child to return to their original school if home education is not approved.

Simon Sims, strategic lead on children missing education, says: “This means the parent is far less likely to withdraw the child in the first instance, and schools will not want to try to get rid of them because they know they will come back.”

*all names changed



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93 Comments

  1. So many biases and assumptions by various people quoted, it’s hard to know where to start.

    From the beginning, if there’s an increase in home education numbers then people should be looking seriously at the reasons why. Schools are clearly failing children and in many cases home education is a last resort for a family which has repeatedly tried to get a school to fix problems. Even if a child has poor attendance, don’t just blame the parents for it, take a good, hard look at the child’s experience at school because that is likely to be the major cause of the problem. If you have a child who gets physically sick, or self-harms in an attempt to avoid school then what is it about school which is causing the problem?

    As for heads ‘picking up the pieces’ when home education fails, look at the other side too, where parents are trying to deal with a child who has been severely traumatised by the school experience.

    Did you misquote the DfE spokesman? Schools are required by law to report when a child is de-registered to be home educated, encouragement should not be needed.

    As for monitoring and assessing home education, here lies the big problem. If you’re going to assess something, you have to have a standard against which you are measuring things. Given that there is no requirement for home educated families to follow the National Curriculum, clearly that is not a suitable standard to follow. Indeed, it is merely a guess by someone in government as to the achievement of the average pupil in every subject, ignoring the fact that all children are different and are likely to advance in different subjects at different rates.

    A good example of this is learning to read, where some children are ready for it before they reach school age, and pick it up quite readily. Others may not be ready for it until a few years later, and forcing them to read early may actually be harming them. It certainly leads them to be branded as poor achievers because so much of the early school curriculum is based around reading, whereas if those children were taught at home, lack of reading is not a problem because learning does not require reading, and it can develop at its own pace.

    Some families do provide a structured education, which is the stereotype picture often seen of children sat at the kitchen table with workbooks, similar to school at home. Others follow a far less structured approach, which is likely to be far harder to measure or assess because it’s being individually tailored to the child, based on the interests of the child. We all learn far faster and easier if we’re interested in the subject matter.

    As for Neil Carmichael, perhaps he can give us some idea of what proportion of home educated children he considers to be neglected, compared to the proportion of school children in a similar position. Schools regularly fail to meet government targets, so is it necessarily any better for a child to be forced to attend a school than be home educated? A parent who is forced to return a child to school has no legal recourse against the school or the local authority if the child performs worse than they did at home. The assumption that school is always the correct answer needs to be vigorously challenged.

    The Milton Keynes procedure does not have the backing of the law. What do they do if parents refuse to play ball? In the limit, as a defence against a school attendance order, it is only necessary to convince a reasonable person that a suitable education is being provided, not a local authority inspector.

    The Bill in the Lords is ill-conceived and misguided. It plays on all the incorrect assumptions that children are always better at school and that local authorities know whats best for children, while parents are not to be trusted and have to be checked regularly. Mandatory registration is pointless, and seeing a child once a year is unlikely to provide a valid and accurate assessment of the child’s abilities and needs. Some special needs children, who are over-represented in the home education community due to repeated failings of schools, will react very badly to the presence of a stranger in the home, especially if they think that person is there to force them to go back to school. In trying to save one child, the Bill ignores the thousands it may damage on the way to reach that child. It is not the solution, it is going to make the situation far worse if it manages to become law.

    • Sally Smalley

      I completely agree with this statement.

      Also to add, parents don’t choose to home educate to save money on fines, as to home educate means one parent can’t work full time, which means you have to live on a very tight income. You have to pay for every learning material and activities. You have to buy text books and online resources. You will spend a fortune on petrol travelling to joint activities as they are usually spread far and wide. So my point is, writing an article giving the impression that home educating parents are just out to dodge fines is deeply offensive. It’s like saying all school parents are lazy because they send their kids away all day and get someone else to work all day looking after them, all for free.

    • Spot on. Agree with everything you’ve said. No one is asking the right questions… Home Education is increasing? Why could that be? Could it be that schools are failing our children?

    • Well said David. We pulled our children out of school and chose to home educate because the school was unfit for purpose. Our oldest 2 children had Speech and language needs, and although the school was quick to claim pupil premium for them, actual support was lacking. 18 months of home education has seen them discharged from SALT as they are at an acceptable level now. They will probably be going back to school someday….in year 11 as I have already paid for their education twice over so why should I have to pay for their GCSE’s also? My other 4 children have never been to school and are happy, well balanced, and better educated than most of their peers. Picking up the pieces….don’t make me laugh, that’s why so many of us chose home education in the first place.

      • Ingrid Rudelhoff

        I so agree. I recently finished a course to become a Montessori Primary Teacher because I so much believe in the inner guidance of the child to learn and absorb information whenever he/she is ready to do so.

    • What about the special needs child whose family have a 24 hour supervision allowance from social services because their child is home educated? If in school then quite a substantial loss of income for them.
      Who supervises the child and their education and social needs? If no one from the education authority ever sees that child or makes a home visit, who is responsible for what is going on behind closed doors.
      What if that child was once on the ‘At Risk Rigister’ ?
      Parents who are real home educators should have nothing to hide and home visits to see the child should be a mandatory aspect of safeguarding.
      We are seriously neglecting a whole group of children.
      No one has seen my granddaughter for five years. What sort of care do the authorities have of her. We have a duty of care for all these children being home educated, no matter how creditable the situation and parents are.
      If I were a home educator, I would be proud to show off my results to prove that my education of my child was better than schools could provide.

    • Jean howells

      Well said I could write a book about the treatment of my son. The education system in Wales is complete farce. Nobody wants to take their child out of school but they made it impossible for him to remain. I even complained to the Welsh assembly education minister but they don’t care because they set the rules to begin with it’s their policies that the schools have to run with in the first place. You have no where to go you are on your own. My son didn’t do hardly any lessons for six months he was on a reduced time table and was sent home at 10.30 everyday but it’s OK for them not to gave children an education I was sending him everyday only for them to send him back home and this went on for months. I feel really angry and powerless and nobody seems to care

  2. The article doesn’t mention unmet special educational needs; the issue of local authorities’ lack of power over academies; the threshold and eligibility for alternative provision; parents home educating while waiting for a place at a preferred school; coerced deregistration or the issue of secondary academies. On a technicality, parents are not “prosecuted” for failing in home education; what happens is that the council issues a School Attendance Order whereby the parent must register the child with the named school. It is only where the parent fails to comply that the council will consider whether to prosecute for breaching the Order. Moreover, it is NOT simply a matter of schools being “encouraged” to notify the authority; schools have a statutory duty to do so. In one of the case studies it appears that the school was pushing or strongly encouraging parents to home educate. The parents have solved a problem for the school. Much more should have been made of the Milton Keynes spokesman who said their policy means “schools will not want to try to get rid of them because they know they will come back” although it is wishful thinking to an extent because of the lack of power of direction over academies.

  3. When every school child leaves full time education at 16 with at least 5 X GCSEs at grades A – C or a 4 / 5 pass.

    When every Secondary aged school child is taught the subject by an appropriately qualified teacher, in that field.

    When every school is answerable to the Local Authority for their teaching ability, as Academies are not.

    When no child feels the need to physically harm themselves rather than attend school.

    Then, and only then, may the Local Authority possibly have a role in Home Education.

  4. Samantha

    As the parent of a school traumatised child I find this article abhorrent.

    Within 3 days of my son starting Year 3, under a new teacher – his IEP had been thrown out of the window, because his (supply) teacher did not agree with the contents, the plan put in place for him to move up to the Juniors that myself and the school SENCO had put into place was also disregarded.

    He was being kept in at break times 3 times a day because his writing was “too slow”, at SEVEN, no-one told us – his parents.

    I discovered this after contacting his teacher, when his behaviour was deteriorating and he was exhibiting both physical and emotional symptoms of school related stress.

    I spoke with his teacher who insisted that he saw no reason that he should stop keeping our son in – after all “he is allowed to eat”, we spoke with his head master who told us he “would support Mr. X in whichever teaching methods he chose to use”.

    We wrote to the school and asked them to stop keeping him in at break times for something that was out of his control and asked them to confirm where it sat in line with their “positive” policies.

    All of this was to no avail – and in the middle was a little boy who was sad, unhappy, struggling and in his words “feeling mad” and like “a naughty boy”. Academically his work was starting to go backwards and he was not learning anything

    It eventually got to the point where we felt, as his parents, we were failing to protect him and that neither he, who had spoken to his headmaster himself, or ourselves were being listened to.

    So we removed him from school – we had been considering home education for a while – and while initially we felt that we would only home educate him if we could do better than the school – in fact it got to the point where school and his treatment at the hands of his teaching staff, meant that we had to remove him from his own well being.

    Our formal complaint to the school led to a response that bore no resemblance to actual events and also that took credit for initiatives we ourselves had put into place to try to ease the pressure school was placing on him and its negative impact on our sons wellbeing.

    We had also spoken with the Education Welfare Officer ourselves who simply never got back to us.

    Our son was effectivey bullied out of his school place by his own teachers and will tell anyone who listens “school is the worst place in the world”.

    It has taken nearly 2 years for him to recover from this experience and at 9 – he is still not the worlds best writer but some of his knowledge outstrips both mine and his fathers.

    He has an inate love of learning – he loves finding out new things and I am quite confident that in terms of Geaography, History and Biology he is already ready to start learning some of the GCSE syllabus and intend to start that path in September.

    There is more than one way to learn and one path to follow.

    Many children are failed by an under staffed and under resourced school system – many children are neglected and abused within the boundaries of school walls – children with even mild SEN/SN are not having their needs met.

    Until a cast iron guarantee can be made that these well documented failings of the school system have been addressed – I see no reason to consider giving someone else the authority to return my child to the environment that was so harmful to him in the first place.

    If I kept my son in, segregated him from his peers and sent him to school showing clear and visible signs of emotional harm and distress, and when the school asked me if he was ok said “he is fine at home”, I am sure they would have sent social services around to investigate and yet the other way around – I was supposed to accept school knew best.!!

    • Hi Samantha. I read your moving piece with great interest and applaud you on the way you have had to cope with your son’s great trauma at mainstream school. I find the way your son has been treated quite abborhant. It also made me smile as I remember back some of the trials and tribulations my boys have had to endure at school when all they want to do is learn, have fun and enjoy life – some of them not quite so funny as I remember. Bullying can happen in every walk of life, but to send a child to school and expect their human rights to be respected is a given. You do not expect your child to be bullied by a teacher. I find that boys are often overlooked at school – they are “supposed” to be tough, when in fact many boys can be very sensitive and loving. Also the quiet pupils are seen as a “problem” by some teachers, when quite often all they need is space to talk and participate. I was lucky at my sons’school, the head listened, the teachers cared, they cared more about children’s happiness and nurturing, than who was the “cleverest”. Remembering back to my school days, the best teacher I ever had was a form tutor who cared deeply for the emotional well-being of EVERY pupil in her care – we adored her, she made school-life OK.

    • Maya Young

      I was left to pick up the peices when my dyslexic and austistic son was failed by more than one mainstream school. I faught tooth and nail to get him the support he needed and only after a ten month period where he learnt nothing and was sent to inclusions for only 3 hours a week did I remove him. He was suicidal by the time I took him out and felt he was worthless due to the system setting him up to fail. He is now happy, socialising, reading and writing at home however if his ‘perfomance’ were to be measured at this point he would be below his age group due to years of failure by the school system despite the amazing progress he has made in the last 5 months of home education. The state refused me any help to support my child to learn at home instead finally offering him a specialist school place after every independant school I approached in the area turned him down as being unteachable as he was unable to engage due to school related trauma. He was unsuprisingly too tramatised and anxious to take the place at specialist school as it came far too late. It is the education system failing our children and forcing us to leave the state system. If more money was spent on specialist provision, diagnoses and support of special needs children instead of shoe-horning them virtually unsupported into large mainstream schools then perhaps more children would feel able to attend without it damaging their mental health and I would not of had to sell my business to ensure my son gets the opportunities he deserves in life.

  5. The fact is that the Local Authority (LA) already have the power to take action where children are not receiving an education.

    What they don’t have is staff who are experienced in home education (HE.) Often they have teaching backgrounds and HE is not school at home because no parent is teaching 20+ children at a time.

    They don’t have the resources or local knowledge base. In many areas the LA cannot support parents to find their local HE community or the activities running within it. Parents do this themselves via social media etc. Most LA do not help support children to take part in exams, it is left to parents to find exam centres or colleges who support younger students.

    The LA do not have the money to support HE properly. In my LA there are 2 members of staff who look after Elective Home Education AND School Behaviour Support. I have no idea how they can deal with the workload of two very different work areas effectively and separately.

    The LA staff do not have the time and experience to effectively look at the paperwork which parents do provide to them. Most LAs will regularly ask parents to provide an educational philosophy, outline their provision. Do supporting staff have time and experience to read and understand these? If parents don’t respond to correspondence do they chase it up in a timely and effective manner?

    The problem here isn’t parents being responsible for their children’s education,which legally they are if they go to school too. It is that the government and local authority don’t seem to know what the law already allows them to do and does not provide the time, money or resources to do it properly.

  6. EDITOR – the Facebook group has 5000 members, not 400, including 4500 recruited in the first 24 hours after it was set up. Quite a difference.

  7. Wow where to start I certainly wish someone had checked on my child’s educational, physical and mental wellbeing whilst in school will the proposed changes see every child in school be monitored in this way? We removed our son to protect his failing mental health and with no support from anyone rebuild him.

    I’d also like to know if these rules come into being who exactly is qualified to look at all 3 areas someone from education wouldn’t be qualified to consider mental health or physical wellbeing. I hear regularly tails from parents of how the school system created the problems their child encountered perhaps if the number of home educating families is rising it’s due to the schools failing and I haven’t spoken to a single parent who removed their child due to expected fines or expulsions.

    How exactly do you propose any of this will be funded interviewing families would take a huge amount of time which would be costly where would that money come from as we all know there isn’t any. Where would all this get us exactly someone who has only ever had experience teaching in a traditional school setting would struggle to understand a non traditional curriculum not to mention how any SEN issues would be assessed you can’t just ask every child to be the same because they’re not the same in a school setting either and looking at the latest headlines of large percentages of schooled children not hitting the standards set the current system isn’t exactly fool proof is it. Then looking at the other areas how would someone be able to assess mental and physical wellbeing they would struggle to fully assess these areas in a once a year interview do they think a child who has been traumatised by the system is going to open up to a complete stranger and what’s your baseline you can’t assess improvement when you’ve no idea how screwed up the child was in the beginning.

    if school is the be all and end all in the protection of children how is it that child protection issues haven’t been eradicated in children attending school. I would imagine that if someone wanted to harm a child they would be off the radar completely so how do you propose to find any such children would they be registered anywhere I doubt it. I really don’t think any of this has been thought through at all.

    In our experience home education has been wonderful my son is at last flourishing and we’ve already made the decision not to register him for high school although we may consider the local college who run a course for age 14+ as we’re hearing amazing things about their caring and supportive environment but we’ll see nearer the time

  8. K Norman

    Home education doubles: because it is there to pick up the pieces when school fails.

    Our school system is struggling – it is underfunded, and teachers are demoralised. Schools lack the support to be able to meet the needs of a wide range of children, and the freedom to diversify educational approaches used to meet those needs.

    A recent Association of Teachers and Lecturers survey found that half of teachers are finding that work pressures are having a detrimental effect on their mental wellbeing. There are mounting concerns about the rise in mental health issues in children. It is difficult to teach or learn effectively when the environment is this stressful.

    We are in the fortunate position of having an education legal framework that gives parents the ability to fulfil their duties by providing a suitable education for their children either at school or otherwise.

    This safety net is a great asset and something we should be proud of.

    It enables parents to choose an education that focuses on their child. If a child is struggling at school – self-harming, being bullied, is disruptive, or lost and overwhelmed due to their specific needs (medical, or SEND) – then a different approach to education for that child is needed.
    Repeating the same educational approaches, and pressures is not going to help. And these proposals would result in parents being forced to replicate the same priorities, timescale, and limited educational approaches outside the school system. It won’t help with mental health, or learning to adapt to special needs, or improve educational outcomes.

    Many parents are forced by circumstances to home educate because it is their child’s only means of, not only accessing a suitable education, but often the only way they can find to provide for their child’s basic wellbeing.

    Other parents home educate because there are other approaches to education, that don’t currently sit well within our school system – be it Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Self-directed, Classical education, Project-based learning or many other approaches. This diversity of approaches is a great asset to all educators, whether they be parents or teachers. It provides us all with new ideas, and educational experiences that can be used to inform our understanding of how children learn.

    These proposed changes would not only diminish the diversity of educational approaches available to parents, but also make it increasingly difficult for individual parents to make the decisions needed to fulfil their duties to provide for their children’s welfare and education.

    As it currently stands we already have clear guidance that sets out the responsibilities of parents and local authorities with regard to education, and procedures in place that should be used where there are concerns.
    Vitally we also have clear boundaries of who is responsible for acting on any concerns – the education department of LA if there are educational concerns, and Social Services if there are safeguarding or welfare concerns.

    These proposals are ill thought out – they will undermine basic legal principles and protections for children, remove parents’ ability to act in their child’s best interests, and force professionals with little understanding of other areas of expertise to make decision that they have neither the professional training, or experience to make.

  9. Wow, I was staggered by the numbers of children reported to be Home Educated. Having read the three interesting case studies I find Home Schooling an interesting option for parents who are legally obliged to provide their children with an education. Personally, I know that mainstream school is best for my children and yes they have experienced bullying, draconian rules, boredom and unfair situations that they have to cope with. However, I can understand why a parent might want to Home School for reasons of moving around or having a child who would be nurtured better in a safer environment due to their physical or mental needs. There is a cost to both sides though – to the local schools who have to cost in numbers of pupils and teachers AND SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN FOR GTRANTED, and to the Home Schooler who have the personal expense of buying textbooks, photocopying materials, laptop, lunches, extra tutoring, exams, fieldtrips as well as evidence on compliance with child protection and safeguarding legislation.

    • Why should parents need to provide evidence on compliance with child protection and safeguarding legislation just because they home educate? Do parents need to do this for pre-school age kids or in the holidays? No because in this country we are assumed innocent until proven guilty and have legal responsibility for our kids and their education. Would you be happy if you were told you had to do this every summer holiday because you couldn’t be trusted to have your kids best interests at heart?

      • If I were to HE my children for whatever reason, I would respect the human rights of that child and ensure that I was in compliance with child protection and safeguarding issues when “educating” such as COSHH guidelines for Science practicals and D&T projects, H&S Legislation, DBS checks for people who have lone access to my children, occupiers liability insurance, monitoring of work programmes to ensure they are receiving a full-time education by asking for professional help, just as I expect these things would be checked by a professional in a school environment or other group such as Scouting. Both at HE or in Mainstream Schooling things can go wrong to harm a child, but in the eyes of the law, compliance with child protection and safeguarding legisalation is everyone’s responsibility.

        • I didn’t mean to imply you shouldn’t take such things serious of course we all should be aware of safety in all it’s forms. I was querying why you feel there would be a need to show evidence of doing so presumably to some form of official. This isn’t something you would expect of a parent of a pre-school age child or parents who chose to send their kids to school in the summer holidays so I was wondering why you feel it would be needed for home educated kids.

    • The cost to the home schooler is often the loss of a salary, as well as the cost of materials, clubs, tutors (if required), etc.
      This is why the repeated “those who home educate to avoid truancy fines” particularly grates.
      It isn’t a cheap, easy or soft option. It’s a full on life decision that the vast majority of us take seriously.
      Is so, so frustrating that legislation designed to catch the teeniest proportion of irresponsible parents will be detrimental to those of us doing our best.

  10. I am stunned by the claim that schools are left picking up the pieces after parents’ home educate their children. Quite the reverse was true in my situation. I live in Neil Carmichael’s (former) constituency so I personally query the reliability of his sources.

    Firstly, my deaf daughter was failed by her primary school to the degree that she was not even on the SEN register, let alone adequately supported to overcome her barriers to learning. The school took the view that as she was not working below P levels she could not have SEN even though she was receiving outside agency support. My little girl was in bits because of the deaf related bullying that the school ignored. The school blamed her for having ‘behavioural issues’ as her frustration at not being able to hear at an intelligible level when there was background noise in class over spilled on occasions. We withdrew her at the beginning of year 5 to home educate her as, despite being very bright (as was evidenced by her well advanced reading age i.e. she read a lot at home) she was not making progress, she could not spell for toffee, was hopeless at maths, and at the age of 9 she did not even know the letter order of the alphabet. It was intended as a temporary measure to rebuild her self-esteem and it worked. Best thing we ever did for her. She returned to a different primary school where teachers supported her to get a Statement of SEN, she was properly supported through a largely un-resourced SSEN, and last year she gained x10 GCSE’s: x2 A*’s (including English Literature), x3 A’s (including English language and Maths), and x5 B’s. is now at college studying x4 A levels.

    Secondly, my eldest daughter suffers with debilitating anxiety but because she was performing well academically her difficulties did not become known until she was unable to speak a single work in an oral GCSE exam i.e. She failed it. The ‘outstanding’ grammar school (which had not been inspected by Ofsted for 10 years) failed her miserably. Rather than show her support and understanding, her teachers openly criticised her and told her friends not to support her by speaking for her (a strategy she had successfully used for years to mask her communication and interaction difficulties which we later found out were due to her being on the autistic spectrum. She had been on track to achieve straight A/A*’s in her GCSE’s (as predicted by her teachers and evidenced by her year 10 A/A* GCSE modular results) but her anxiety levels shot up in year 11 and her ability to process information and complete her written work was affected to the degree that although she passed all her GCSE’s (bar the language one she had dropped to avoid a fail grade) her grades were nowhere near what they had been predicted to be. Once in sixth form, she struggled to cope with the amount of unstructured time she had, and began to have regular panic attacks unless she had someone with her, so she was regularly sent home on ‘behavioural grounds’. She became too anxious to attend and the LA refused to undertake a Statutory Assessment of SEN, which meant we had to go to the SEND Tribunal. The LA was ordered to assess her and whilst they gave her a Statement of SEN the support she needed was never put in place and the school placement broke down again, leaving us with no option other than to request she had support to continue with her A levels at home. The LA refused to transfer her SSEN into an EHCP and a further (successful) appeal to the SEND Tribunal was necessary. The LA then appealed to the Upper Tribunal (causing my daughter to have to seek legal advice and representation for the first time) but their appeal was dismissed. The Judge criticised the LA for ‘misunderstanding’ its duties towards young people over compulsory school age and commented that, in all his time as a Judge, he had rarely seen such evidence of school related anxiety. What he didn’t know was that, by the time of the hearing, my daughter’s education related depression had deepened and she had been hospitalised as she had stopped eating.

    So, no, I don’t think it’s the schools that pick up the pieces. Far from it. The real cost is to the child or young person, and introducing mandatory legislation is not going to work unless and until schools, LA’s and Education Committee’s recognise and address the driving force behind the difficult decisions parents are having to take to ensure their children can safely access education.

    Home education is going up in this area (Gloucestershire) for a reason. Schools and LA’s are failing children and young people with SEN. It really is as simple as that. Home Education can be a very positive choice for many families but for others it is the only solution to the enormous barriers many children and young people face in accessing education.

  11. All the home educators have been privileged to know personally (probably 100 or more families over the years) have fallen into two distinct groups, they either made a positive choice to home educate before their child reached compulsory school age or they were driven to it because the school/s failed their children – the vast majority fall in the latter group. Within that group the SEND is a major factor, I’m struggling to think of a single family who has withdrawn their child/ren from school where at least one child hasn’t been either previously diagnosis or is in the process of being diagnosed, often with multiple conditions.

    Our youngest, of 4 – ASD (fitting the criteria for PDA), severe anxiety, severe sensory problems, other comorbid conditions also diagnosed – told us he wanted to die, several times a day from the age of about 6. He needed two carers to get him safely to his specialist unit. He suffered increasingly severe meltdowns and bouts of violence and stress related conditions. His specialist unit ignored recommendations from medical professionals and failed to mention, let alone discuss major contributory factors such as putting him in mainstream classes. The same unit also regularly ignored other pupils needs – including removing nappies from an incontinent child and regularly leaving him sitting in his own faeces – despite having agreed to meet those needs as stated in those pupils’ EHCPs. And that was widely regarded as the best school in the area, with many SEND children being moved there after being failed in other schools.

    And the priority is monitoring home educators? Not dealing with the root cause of the problem which is that our schools are struggling, and increasingly failing to cope with our children’s needs, through lack of funding, loss of experienced staff, rigid curriculum requirements, increasingly stressful testing requirements etc.? The purpose of OFSTED checking schools is to report back to parents who chose to delegate their responsibility to the state, not vice versa!

    The majority of home educators are essentially forced into this and spend months if not years repairing the damage done to their children’s health (mental and physical). Morris, Soley etc need to give their heads a wobble and see the bigger picture.

  12. As a home educator, this fills me with sadness. The home educating community is highly motivated and geared towards child centred education. Something schools are unable to facilitate due to the large numbers, diversity of need and lack of funding. The majority of parents take their responsibility to their children extremely seriously and choosing to home educate isn’t a choice lightly taken and one that is often reviewed by the parents themselves. The fact that, for example, my children each have their own learning needs and strengths that we work to, means that they don’t fit the national curriculum. In fact the whole reason our 2nd son is home educated is because he is a square peg and school is a round hole. We can make him fit but it will damage him. This is a quote from the reports of professionals who were involved in the formation of his EHCP which names home educating as the best place for him. The assessments being suggested by Solely would remove the opportunity of child centred learning as well as the autonomy of family. In terms of children who are being mistreated, there is a far greater number in education who are being abused and missed. It’s rare for a child who’s parents abuse them to be educated at home. The mindset of the home educator is to offer the children tailored experiences and education. It means a lot of effort from the parents and time and often cost too. We live in a country where we are assumed to be capable parents (all of us) and only when there is concern would external authorities become involved. However this report is suggesting the opposite. That none of us are capable and that the school system is there to monitor our ability as parents. This is not what it is there for.

  13. Let’s assume most parents want the best for their children. They observe that their child is unhappy, burnt out, the target of abuse, their needs not being met, or bored. As good parents should, they try and work with the school to improve the situation, but they are either ignored, or the measures taken are inadequate. What do you think they should do? If schools were meeting the needs of every child, or even attempting to, less parents would be inclined to take the very serious decision to home educate. It’s not a decision taken lightly, and the cost is huge in terms of time, effort and finances.
    While many parents choose to home educate for philosophical and ideological reasons, there are also many who feel they have no choice, purely out of concern for their child’s wellbeing.
    Some children do return to mainstream school, once again for any number of reasons – my son never “returned” but entered school at 15, when we jointly decided that it was a good logical next step in his path towards adulthood. My other children went through the college system as a means to gains “piece of paper” to take them further – all performed well, and were highly regarded by their tutors who said that they were more articulate and self-disciplined than schooled youngsters – there were certainly no pieces to be “picked up”!
    This article fails to properly address the failure of the education system as a factor in the rise of home education – perhaps it’s time to take responsibility for that first before demonising parents whose only desire is to rescue their children from a detrimental situation. Inadequate research, and, I suspect, some misquoting, make this quite a questionable piece of “journalism”.

  14. The problem here is not home education, but fines for low school attendance and attendance-dependent funding for schools. If schools weren’t incentivised to off-roll pupils and parents weren’t under threat of prosecution if their children refused to attend, people who didn’t really want to home educate wouldn’t be trying it.

    That aside, though, home educated children do better academically, on average, than school educated children. Schools may be ‘picking up the pieces’ in a minority of cases, but more often parents end up ‘picking up the pieces’ when they take their children out of school and realise just how little information has gone in over the child’s school career. It also doesn’t make sense to put those who return to school to take exams for free in the same category as those who return because home education isn’t working for them. The fact that exams aren’t free to external candidates is a failing of the exam funding system, not a failing of home educators.

    On the subject of changing the law, it would indeed be draconian, and discriminatory, unless we also plan on forcing children who are failing in school to be home educated. We don’t send medics round to check up on the homes and health practices of children who haven’t used the NHS recently, because the assumption is that if people need to use free public services, they will. The same goes for home educators – if parents don’t feel like their child is doing as well at home as they would in school, they can just send them back (and as the article points out, this does sometimes happen). To send inspectors round when services aren’t used is to second guess the parents’ judgement of how their children are doing, and essentially puts the parents in second place to the state as the carers of children. That’s absurdly authoritarian, and we wouldn’t accept it in any other context: health checks, diet checks, dental checks, psychiatric checks etc. Why, then, would we do it with education?

  15. Katrina

    We decided to home educate our children, NOT BECAUSE they were :
    -problem children
    -Special needs
    -Trying to avoid fines
    -had a beef with the school
    or any other reason mentioned in this article!
    We decided to home educate them as we wanted them to have a wonderful childhood!
    To learn about things because learning is exciting, not prescribed!
    To be able to stay up till midnight to watch the meteor showers and sleep in the next morning because they needed to, because learning hands on is so much more valuable an experience!
    To be able to sit and read all day by the fire in winter, because its cosy and comfortable and an ideal place to soak in all the knowledge they are acquiring!
    We don’t so national curriculum- we take a more unschooled approached, with only Maths being done using Khan academy, but relatively unmonitored by me, Yet my young children are reading numerous thick novels at a young age, my 7r old, who did less than 15 mins maths a day, is already doing pre-algerbra, and these kids could knock the academic socks their peers back at school!
    The KA’s just don’t understand this type of learning, how, why or if it works, so how could they “assess” us?
    Yet my kids are proof of the pudding that it is entirely possible to learn a huge volume without it being regurgitated by a teacher or planned by an adult, and furthermore- this love of learning that they have acquired from simply being allowed to explore knowledge, instead of force fed it to boredom, will carry through lifelong!
    People in the Homed community seem to read so much more than any other group of people I know!
    I notice even at a meetup at the beach, for example, pretty much every teenager has a book accompanying them!
    My children also blossomed personally after being removed from the school environment.
    I could see signs they were both starting to “conform” in certain ways to society norms in order to avoid being picked on.
    My oldest son, who is a romantic at heart, loves Disney movies, and all things magical was starting to say he disliked these things in order to avoid bullying- yet this same kid, I am sure, will grow up to be an author!
    At 11 yrs of age, he is 17.,500 words into a novel he is writing, and from what I have read, it is GOOD!
    If we had allowed him to be pommelled down by the kids at school to fit into the little brown box they were trying to force him into, all these wonderful characteristics he has, would have been driven so far down that he might never have been able to recover.
    They are now living that wonderful childhood life we had hoped for, and thriving so much more than they would have in the school environment too!
    I will never regret our family making the decision to home educate!
    The only thing i do wish for, is a tidy house once in a while, as with four children constantly at home, I never get to sit down in a picture perfect living room, for a quite cup of tea!

  16. Tracey Maciver

    I think the question here should be is if the number of children being home educated is rising dramatically does that not demonstrate that the education system is failing countless children and it is the education system that needs to change rather than strict regulation of something which is clearly working for many children by a system which is broken.
    As a home educating parent I have met many ex teachers like myself who will not put their children into the current education system. Is this another indicator that the government needs to rethink how schools are run and give schools more freedom to pursue curriculum and assessments which are more in line with the way children learn rather than a one size fits all.

  17. Jean Parnell

    This article is ridiculously biased. Many home educators feel they have to pick up the pieces after school has failed them so badly.

    Also deciding to send a child back to school isn’t a failure of home ed, it could be as simple as home ed was the best choice for the child but now the parent feels like school is right for them, if one day we feel like school is the best place for our daughter to be we will absolutely send her back happy in the knowledge we’ve made the right decision for her, right now its home ed but one day it might be school, we’re not two sides at war. Its not like you have to pick a side and stick to it, we just need to make decisions with the best interests of the child in mind so flexibility for change is always going to be important.

    This article is so one sided and incredibly insulting for all of us who work our butts off to give our children the best education possible. I hope no parents stuck with a school failing their child are put off by this terrible article.

  18. Roxane Featherstone

    I don’t know which FB group set up to protest against the Home Education Bill is referred to in the article, but it was a small one compared to the one I belong to which had 4000 members and counting within a day of being created, which was the day after the Bill received its first reading.

    The resistance to the Bill will be powerful indeed and this for many reasons, some of which already stated above in comments, but also:

    1. LAs already have powers to intervene in the situation where they have reason to believe that an education is not being provided, (s436a of the Education Act 1996), as they do with dealing with children at risk of abuse (S47, Children Act 1989)

    2. The Bill as proposed would mean that the state would appropriate parental responsibilities to determine the nature of a suitable education. Currently this is not the case. Parents are responsible for ensuring that children receive a suitable education and the law on Children Missing Education which requires local authorities to find children not in receipt of an education does not change this because in deciding when an education is not taking place, the state is not deciding what sort of education SHOULD take place. However, if the Bill goes through, it would mean that the state will then be the arbiter and controller of the nature of a suitable education, which of course has all manner of constitutional and potentially litigious consequences that no-one in their right minds should want to contemplate.

    3. Education isn’t just the contents of the National Curriculum. It can be many, many other things as well, a point which seems to be missed in this article and which makes home educators very frightened. I suppose some previously HEd children may struggle when going back in to schools, though this certainly hasn’t been my experience with HE children around here, who won loads of prizes at our local sixth form when they returned to schooling at 16. The question you have to ask though regarding the pupils who do struggle is would they not have struggled with a school curriculum anyway? The fact is, an education can be many things. Perhaps car washing actually WAS the most suitable education for that child! If he loves it, he might get really good at it, might start learning other related skills about car maintenance, or how to run a small business successfully, when struggling with maths and English for 10 years would have served no purpose whatsoever. One close friend of ours never learned to read or write until my DH gave him a PC when he was 35. Prior to that though, you could give him almost any task related to mechanical repair and he would manage it somehow. He had taught himself all this where school had taught him next to nothing. From this we must conclude that if people are to receive a genuinely appropriate and enabling education, the state must not be allowed to determine the nature of this education, because it will do so in a broad way that fails to genuinely adapt to the needs of individuals as s7 of the Education Act requires.

    To conclude: Leave us alone unless it looks as if we are really cocking up as the state will otherwise cock up too, and cause more school related suicides that sit on the consciences of my teacher friends as they struggle to implement a one size fits all curriculum that killed these dyslexic children. Put more money in to SS so that they can manage the cases where there are genuine concerns and don’t throw money away chasing universal monitoring.

  19. James Gunter

    If you want to see what home education is really like in the UK then you need to hang around with groups of actual home-educators.
    There are many who do it really well, with children performing way above their age academically.
    Unfortunately there are many, many others who fall way short of the mark. Literacy and numeracy skills among a lot of home educated children are appalling, especially among those following the ‘radical unschooling’ and ‘autonomous’ routes where, in many cases, the kids are just left to get on with it.
    I have seen, first hand, the problems such children face if the parents decide to send them to school at some point. The massive gaps in their education then become a real issue.
    Now so many people seem to be choosing to home-ed I think it is time for the Government to seriously consider how they can help to make sure that this educational neglect doesn’t become widespread.

    • Katrina

      There are many many MANY children in MAINSTREAM SCHOOLING who fall way short of the mark!
      You only have to watch the Jeremy Kyle show once to see a lovely sample of some of the folk regular schooling churns out- illiterate, poor vocab and no skills to speak of between them!

      A fair percentage of parents with SEN kids choose to home Educate after the school system FAILING their children!
      They are left often undiagnosed, no support and failing at school until the parents finally get fed up and decide to do a better job themselves!
      Who cares if one child at 11 years old can do xyz and the other can’t?
      it is about THAT CHILD achieving THEIR full potential- and for some kids that is a much higher academic level than others can manage to achieve.
      What you are losing sight of, is that the whole point of educating people is to equip them academically, skills wise, emotionally and physically to function in the world as an adult and earn a living.
      Not everyone is going to be a Scientist or a Math Professor!
      Some may be an amazing Builder, a Plumber, a Caterer.
      All these skills are necessary in society and have to be fulfilled by someone!
      My children are Autonomously Home Schooled, and “left to get on with it”.
      In our household, that has borne out to a 7 yr old doing pre-algerbra on Khan academy after i showed them the resource- the other is in yr 6, but doing YR 7 USA math (8TH grade UK standard) after “being left to get on with it.
      They both also consume huge amounts of reading material, could out fact you most likely on many subjects and are both currently writing a book, the 11 yr old having written 17,500 words so far, and from what I have read, its good!
      Your musings do not take into account the background the children struggling have had and how they have advanced as home educated children. It means nothing.

    • It is clear from your remarks that you do no understand what it means to use autonomous educational philosophies. It is very far removed from kids being “just left to get on with it” and requires a lot of skill, time and investment from parents to do it. Just because this doesn’t mirror school like learning does not mean it is invalid. Should you wish to educate yourself on the matter this is a good place to start https://www.self-directed.org/

    • Except if you look at the research, home educated children outperform school children across the board – in spite of home educated children having a disproportionately high rate of special educational needs (since school often serves SEN children so poorly parents need to remove them). Your anecdote does not trump the observed data.

      What does happen, however, is that home ed children who are academically behind are more likely to show it, because they haven’t been made so ashamed of their ‘failings’ as to make them socially inhibited. If a school child can’t read at age 11, they will probably hide the fact from you. If a home educated child can’t, they usually won’t care because they trust that they can learn later. I think this probably explains your experiences better than the alternative of you simply having bad luck.

    • Janine Chapman

      As a family we have home schooled for the last 7 years for between 4 months and 2 months a year. The children slot straight back into mainstream school when we return from overseas. When home schooling we follow the curriculum and my husband & myself know our strengths and each taken on different subjects according to this. When home schooling we do school work every day on a one to one basis, little and often. My Year 6 son has sat his Sat’s this year in mainstream school, he achieved greater depth in all subjects and scored 109 out of 110 on the 3 Maths papers, he openly admits that he did so well due to spending some of each year home schooling. I would like to know how the local authorities intend to “check” the education being provided to all the “travelling community”????

  20. Despite the case studies quoted I find this article biased against home education. We deregistered our son after school massively failed him and the stress this caused to our whole family is indescribable. As parents we were put under intense scrutiny because it couldn’t possibly be anything about school which caused the behaviour being displayed.

    Before we took him out of school his self esteem was through the floor. The school asked us to take him home for lunch everyday (in what I understand now was probably an illegal exclusion), he was kept in for break times and would take his work out of the classroom as he could no longer cope in that environment. So he wasn’t reaching his potential or getting any social interaction there either!

    Four months after coming out of school he muttered the words “it’s great to be me” – how could that possibly be measured or assessed? A year after starting home education and after a 15 month wait the CAMHS appointment finally arrived. Having been assessed we were basically told that we had fixed the problem by coming out of school.

    Not everyone’s home education journey is like ours, but I’ve yet to meet any home educator who doesn’t appreciate the seriousness and responsibility of taking on the children’s education, in whatever form that is.

    We are considering secondary school, as my son has expressed an interest, but if it doesn’t work we won’t hesitate in coming back out of school. I won’t allow the state system to damage my child again and I’m grateful that I live in a country where I have that choice. I sincerely hope that this isn’t curtailed through fear and ignorance.

  21. Joanne Bartley

    I’m amazed that anyone who home educates their child would object to a home visit, this is in the overwhelming interests of ALL children.

    We know that a small minority of children will be taken out of school and have limited educational provision. I have a family member in this situation. No help is available for either the child or the parent, they are left to their own devices and the child will get no qualifications. It is quite shocking that this is allowed. Keeping records of home educated children and checking they have a plan for education is completely reasonable.

    If you adopt a puppy or a kitten there’s a home visits in the interests of its welfare. Yet we have no checks for the educational welfare of children taken out of school by their parents.

    • katrina

      They can’t even help all the children failing AT SCHOOL!
      Where will they get the resources to do what you suggest?
      Under LAW it is the responsibility of THE PARENTS, not the STATE to ensure the child has an education FITTING TO THAT CHILD.
      The LA’s have NO EXPERIENCE in adequately assessing Home Educated children, and the interference of most is usually a very negative experience.
      They offer no resources or support at all, and many of them have a terrible draconian approach.
      Our first experience with our LA was caused by their administration errors and resulted in a back to school order for my kids and threats of legal repercussions.
      We had done NOTHING WRONG whatsoever, they used an out of date address form 4 years previous, to send letters to, which ofcourse got not response.The school had our correct address on their files, but no one bothered to check.
      The LA was uncontactable, despite my calling an leaving messages on a number of occasions, after I finally became aware of all of this when a tenant of that property finally gave one of the letters to the estate agent who passed it on, and after much stress and hassle. and having had to get someone with legal skills involved to fight the order and do an educational assessment of our children to fight the order (in which the children blew her away with how intelligent they are and how advanced they are compared to peers) we finally got the order retracted. I also demanded a written apology, which we got.
      I WILL NEVER willingly meet with that woman or her department again!
      There was NO CONCERN whatsoever about my children, my children are out and about in the community all the time and everyone from the midwife to the Doctor to the local library course they attend would attest to what great and happy kids they are.
      It is easy to make some throw away comment about a situation you are not involved in and have no real understanding of.
      Kids DON’T NEED QUALIFICATIONS to do excellently in life!
      Many of the Billionaires out there and entrepreneurs have never stepped foot inside a University!
      If my kids never go to University and only learn the skills their father does for a living, they will still be a blue collar worker and earn around 5x the average wage earner!

    • ALL children are provided universal services on a voluntary basis. It might mean you accept visitors in to your home such as a midwife, health visitor, a school nurse, or HE advisor, but it is all voluntary and parents don’t have to opt in to the system. If you’re proposing that universal services are made compulsory, that statutory intervention happens below the current threshold, it isn’t just home educators who’ll be affected.

    • The analogy of puppies and kittens is not an effective way of understanding this situation because how you may choose to look after your puppy or kitten could be greatly different from how someone else looks after theirs, but that doesn’t make either of you wrong.

      There are no checks because responsibility for a child’s education and welfare sits with the parent, not the school. When a parent registers a child with a school, they delegate that responsibility to the school and the school have to report on the child’s progress to the parent – not the other way around. The analogy of puppies and kittens is not an effective one. A better analogy to understand the legal position would be when your boss gives you a task. If your boss chooses to do the task themselves, you have absolutely no right to inspect how they have done it, do you? It has nothing to do with you at all.

      The state has the powers it needs to investigate safeguarding and education issues through the current legislation, in exactly the same way it does if there are concerns about any other child.

      The problem is that the state, in this case, the teaching profession, wants to go beyond safeguarding, into imposing their version of education on, as you say, ALL children – regardless of what may, or may not, be in the individual child’s best interests.

    • Are you fit to care for your own children during school holidays? Are you fit to teach your children how to be sociable, how to use a toilet, how to speak, how to feed themselves etc before they have reached school age? Would you object to somebody coming into your home, with no justifiable reason to tell you that you have to start bringing up your children in a way that they decide, not how you decide? Home educated children go to the doctor, to the dentist, to the optician. They get ill and go to hospital, they are not hidden away, but are in full sight. And also, home educated children take GCSE’s, they go to college, they go to university, they are doing very well. If you support monitoring of home educated children, mark my words, your children will be next! And how you can compare children to adopted puppies and kittens is beyond me! Home educated children have parents who have understood that it is their responsibility to educate their child in a school setting or otherwise, it is not the responsibility of the government. And also, the incidence of abuse or lack of education in home education is tiny, whereas nearly all children abused or murdered by their parents attend school, and the abuse happens right under the noses of teacher, social workers and education welfare officers.

    • If you know of a child who is not receiving a suitable education then you are free to raise a concern with the relevant local authority. The LA can then invoke section 437 of the Education Act 1996, “If it appears…” which is how the law works when applied correctly.

      Aside from that, unless you know the child well, what may look to you like a lack of education may be an ideal learning environment for the particular child in question. Not all learning takes place sat at the kitchen table.

      Your adoption model is flawed – if you adopt an animal there are checks and a visit. If you adopt a child there are checks and a visit, which is comparing apples with apples. If you choose to train your dog, no one comes along and makes sure you’re doing it a particular way, same if you choose to educate your child.

    • Parents left to their own devices? Wow, it’s almost like they have under 5’s or something.

      Home educated children are academically ahead of school children, on average. I suggest that you worry less and help more, if you are concerned about a home educated child that you know. Also, home visits are available to those who want them currently, so if your home educating relative feels the same concern you do, they can arrange a meeting with their LA any time.

      Also, you can buy a pet without getting home visits. You can have a child without getting home visits. You can care for an elder without getting home visits. The state is there to support where you want, not to intrude on everybody who is perfectly happy as they are, thanks.

    • Exsugarbabe

      I welcomed a visit from the education officer and even asked for help. My child has special needs, and a ton of health problems that have mostly gone since being at home. She didn’t read any reports, she didn’t offer any help and there’s no money. School was distorting my child, the stress was distorting me. Honestly I thought school was the best place for kids but it’s not, school are there to get targets and that’s it.

  22. I wouldn’t expect balance from a trade publication, so I am not surprised by the bias in this article. It seems that teachers are continuing to push towards a full-frontal conflict with parents as they try to further erode parental rights in an effort to establish state co-parenting. This will not be in the children’s best interests.

    Our young children are currently happily enjoying their early Foundation/KS1 education in a school where they are gaining basic skills. They will be supported to develop their talents and strengths regardless of whether these are served by the national curriculum. While school continues to support them in developing their strengths and talents they will remain in school, but if it fails to do that they will be homeschooled. We are not all the same and the national curriculum forces children to waste years of their lives learning things that they have no interest in and no future use for.

    One recent example of the achievements of home education is Gloucester Home Educators who made the final 100 teams of the government’s CyberFirst Girls’ Competition. Not a single state school from the area that we live in made that list. Not one.

    Our children’s education will be dictated by what is best for each child based on what they need to flourish, not by the desire of a faceless bureaucracy to control every inch of our lives. Perhaps Mr Carmichael may want to provide our council with the extra funds they will need to keep our family under his “weather eye” surveillance.

  23. Samantha

    I am deeply saddened by this article and no doubt countless ones which will follow. I have four children, my oldest, 23, has just graduated with a First Class Honours degree from The Business School of the London College of Fashion, a 17 year old completing his first novel, a horse mad 12 year old, who has his sights set on being a professional Eventer and who can tell you everything about horses and their care and a 7 year old who taught himself to read and runs rings around us all on the computer. The oldest three are dyslexic but this is not a hinderance for the way we learn. We don’t follow a curriculum, we play, we make, we laugh, we experiment, we visit, we live ! We do not learn conventionally but that does not mean it is wrong, different is not wrong. It would be impossible to monitor home educators fairly, there are as many ways to home educate as there are families doing it ! It is simply that we don’t fit into the box educationally so after registration and monitoring will come forced use of curriculum and testing, the very things that many have left mainstream education to get away from and to protect their children from. Home eduction provides a safe haven for those who cannot function in schools, those who have been failed by the system, those how have been bullied, those who have SENs. Believe me it is not the easiest or cheapest option ! It is a positive life choice for those of us lucky enough to make that choice and thrust upon others whose children are close to breaking point. To confuse Home Education with safeguarding issues is also a grave mistake, as others have said why would home educators be more likely to harm their children than someone with children of under school age or older children out of school for the holidays. If anyone who will have a say in voting for this Bill is reading this and the other comments, please, please, please find out about Home Education for yourselves and make the right choice.

  24. Jill Ingle

    As a home educator who spends a lot of my spare time ‘picking up the pieces’ for children and families when the school has failed them (to the point of making myself unwell because of the intensity)…I find the strapline of this article ironic.
    Plus, teachers are paid for their role. We do this on a voluntary basis.
    In relation to the bill urging that councils monitor the ‘educational, physical and emotional development’ of home-educated children. I think that if the ‘educational, physical and emotional development’ of these children had been looked after *in* school, we wouldn’t have home education numbers increasing at the rate they are.
    The answer is clear in my mind. Authorities have all the powers they need to address concerns about a home educated child -if they used them properly…so perhaps it might be more appropriate to address the problems within schools instead.

  25. Esther Clarke

    The comments to date show the typical response of home educating families: well considered, factually based explanation. That this is in the face of persistent denigration by some in authority and also in the face of Local Authorities’ failure to adhere to current legislation and guidance, is a clear demonstration of the high standard of child centred care provided by those parents.

    I personally know several thousand home educating families and the description of schools ‘picking up the pieces’ does not ring true to me. Conversely, the description of parents deciding to home educate in order to pick up the pieces of the school damaged child certainly does.

    I am aware of children self harming, suicidal children, children without a shred of self confidence and a great many children with special needs that were not met in school.

    I have read a previous comment by Estelle Morris in which she says that if children find school difficult they should be helped to return to school. I question why.

    When an adult is ‘bullied’ at their place of work the issue is taken most seriously. The ‘bully’ will be at least reprimanded and more usually dismissed for their behaviour. The victim is protected in law. Not so a child ‘bullied’ at school. One home educated child of my acquaintance was stabbed at school, resulting in life saving surgery. That child’s Local Authority felt it appropriate to serve a school attendance order on his mother to seek to force her son to return to the school where the perpetrator was still attending. That is the attitude of Professional bodies to home educated children. Interestingly, that issue went before a Court and the court quite rightly found in the favour of the mother.

    Local Authorities have existing right to address neglect, abuse and lack of care for all children, including home educated children. It is a reactive duty which derives from the children Act 1989 and is clear and robust. No duty exists to actively investigate whether a child is fed, clothed, or emotionally cared for save for where a referral has been made to social work, as a result of a concern. It is insulting and incongruous to suggest that every child who is home educated should be treated as a child at risk, without such a referral for genuine concern.

    We do not need a change in education law, what we need is a clear change in attitudes in the media and Local authorities. Home education is a successful and valid means of providing education to children, yet it is inappropriately being described as a cause for concern.

    Children are individuals, they do not sit in a narrow band of educational need, but come within a wide range of need and ability, that schools cannot meet. Diversity in education provision enriches our National education offer, providing children with the ability to reach their potential.

    A Nation which seeks to destroy such diversity, as this Bill does, seeks to destroy the success of its own future.

  26. The responses here speak volumes about what is happening in British schools. While the pointless debates about styles of learning and disciplining within schools rage on there is a small band of home schoolers who are connected to real educational experiences. It’s great to see. Well done home-schoolers for having the guts to approach your child’s education like this.

  27. One thing that strangely never seems to get addressed is the way local authorities overstep the mark and claim powers they do not have. A significant number of home educators have been on the receiving end of demands by their local authority for a visit, often with the threat of a referral to social services if they do not comply. Even now, there are local authorities which will routinely report home educators to social services for not obeying every little demand issued by the LA. Of course, social services then have to waste valuable resources on checking out these referrals just in case there’s actual substance to one of them, which means that they have less time to deal with cases which really do need their attention. Invariably these local authorities will have a line in their home education policy which states that they wish to foster good relations with home educators but clearly subscribe to the Attila the Hun school of public relations.

    Other local authorities try to insist on seeing samples of written work because they claim they can’t assess provision without such samples. These people are not qualified to assess the suitability of home education because many of their colleagues in other authorities manage quite well without seeing samples. Some educational styles don’t produce work in a form that can easily be shared with a local authority anyway, further highlighting that those who insist on seeing samples are not properly qualified and require further training.

    • Yes. You make some very good points. Suffice it to say that any ‘assessment’ of written work will not take account of the individual impact of historically unmet SEN and the parent blame game goes on.

      One gets the distinct impression that LA’s and schools are motivated by a drive to access more money from the public purse (i.e. pupil numbers on school rolls) than by a genuine desire to improve educational standards and safeguard children. If the latter were true there would be more of an outcry about the barriers to learning so many children and young people with SEND face in schools. All the tosh about ‘Quality First Teaching’ prevents teachers from speaking openly about unmet SEND in schools.

      There is a growing need for home education amongst the SEND community; and a growing recognition that Home Education is not simply a reactive response but a proactive one. It makes perfect sense to raise children who are happy and well adjusted individuals who can think outside the box. School is not right for everyone and social media has made people realise that education really is accessible otherwise.

  28. Well there is so much bias in this article I hardly know where to start. However, I am not going to pull this to pieces (though it deserves as to be) I will leave that to the many, very articulate, people who have already done so. I will though, give you my story briefly. My son has autism variant PDA, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, bilateral hearing loss for which he is aided in both ears … and various other bits and pieces. He started school as a summer born, just aged 4 and what followed was, best described as, three years of near hell. Yr1 in particular nearly broke all of us. His teacher was Head of Infants and senior of years and claimed she had only taught one other autistic child in her whole career – this is frankly impossible and speaks volumes for her knowledge of SEN. She even asked me “when will he grow out of it”. The school refused to get an educational psychologist report (I suspect because he was going to tick SATS boxes for them and therefore deemed not worth the money, but this is supposition on my part as they never explained themselves). In desperation I paid for a private report and the overwhelming recommendation was for an EHCP, something the school also repeatedly denied he needed. He got his EHCP at the first time of asking and the SENCO even thanked me for the private report as it gave her “all the information she needed for his application”. So already I (the parent) am picking up the pieces in terms of provision not provided for by school. I can go on with countless examples. However 2 years ago I removed a broken child at the end of Yr2 to Home Educate. It has been the best thing I have ever done. The system catastrophically failed my son (as well as thousands of other SEN kids across the country). To entertain the notion that the school system is picking up the pieces is utterly absurd and totally WRONG! Two years on and we still have huge amounts of school trauma. Still today he shakes in fear when he picks up a pencil. On the surface a 9 year old that barely writes could be seen as home education failure, but that is blinkered in the extreme. The failure came from the school system and I am picking up the very broken pieces. I have to first repair and shore up his mental health, self esteem, confidence, self worth, sensory systems, executive functioning, social language, relationships, physical health, self care skills, theory of mind, speech and language, emotional regulation and control and the biggest thing that eclipses all of these his huge amount of ANXIETY. All of this was at best neglected by the school system or utterly broken by it. Without all of this in place “academic learning” cannot happen. You can learn about fronted adverbials (if you ever deemed it necessary, which I doubt for the vast majority of the population) at any point but above MUST come first. So how dare you sit there casting aspersions that my provision is substandard (against what criteria is a whole other debate best left for a different occasion) when your schooling system did SO much damage. Home Education has been an utter life saving, life changing haven for ALL my family (because when a child is in so much distress it impacts everyone in the family profoundly). People are utterly amazed when they see him, he is “alive”, motivated, engaging and has a love of life, in fact he declares that he now “loves his life”. He will get the skills and knowledge he needs to be an active member of his society, this is not only my legal obligation but my personal/parental obligation. It may not be at a time deemed tickboxable on National Curriculum or Government imposed time frame but that is not the point. Given his SEN he was never going to and forcing him into the system mould was breaking him and has put him behind even further. His story is not unique by any stretch of the imagination. Unmet SEN is one of the leading reasons why many people chose to home educate. And SEN children are massively over represented in the Home Ed community. This is not a failure by parents but a MASSIVE failure in Government SEN policy for a segment of the SEN population, failure by the schooling system and failure by LAs themselves. So take a good hard look at your system before pointing a finger over here.

  29. Parents have the right to home educate their children. The stories above explain why parents choose to home educate. Such parents would have nothing to fear from compulsory registration.
    Schools have a statutory duty to notify the LA if children are taken off roll. But what if a child hasn’t entered school? Not all parents are loving and keeping a child out of school saying it is being home-educated could hide child abuse.
    It’s important to remember that regular schooling works for most pupils. It doesn’t, as one commentator above says, turn all children into future contestants on Jeremy Kyle. The majority of home educators want the best for their children. So do most schools (although the suggestion that some schools are encouraging parents of certain children to be home educated is concerning). Portraying home educators as plucky pioneers resisting the horrors of all state schooling is unhelpful.

    • Parents who abuse their children are hardly going to sign up for monitoring though, are they? This bill isn’t proposing any punishment for parents who don’t register as home educating, and even if it did I doubt the punishment would be as severe as the punishment for abusing a child…so where would the incentive be for abusive home educating parents (if such exist, which has not been demonstrated) to register for monitoring should this bill pass?

      But if you want to go down the abuse route, why not look at the risks of abuse in school? Over half of teenage school girls report sexual harassment or assault at school in the past year. Over a third of school children are physically assaulted by their peers. Every week it seems a new story breaks of a teachers being arrested for grooming or sleeping with pupils.

      Maybe before casting aspersions on home educators, the awful state of child welfare in schools should be sorted out.

      • You’re right that abusive parents would not be likely to register their children as being home-educated just because registration was made statutory. But at the moment such parents can say there is no legal obligation to register. Compulsory registration could go some way to stopping abused children who are not in school from falling through the net. And a police investigation into non-registration could reveal something worse.
        You’re also right that abuse happens in schools. And when it happens it must be dealt with just as abuse by a small number of so-called home educators must be dealt with. Saying this isn’t ‘casting aspersions’.

    • do they not? what if exams became compulsory? they are in my home US state, Will they are allowed to fail? my son would only learning to read at 8. would he be forced to return to the school?

  30. Mrs Mum

    My children always had 97-99% attendance whilst at school.

    I removed the first because of SEN failures of a school whose only support was to hold an EHAF every so often, where teachers barely knew what they were talking of, a school nurse who was a saving grace and a SENCO who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near children.
    After the damage they caused, I removed her at 8.5 years old. We are almost there regards to understanding her SENs with professional support and diagnosis. That kind of blows the Schrodinger’s child argument out of the water. “Unseen children that are abused but we can’t prove they exist” (idiot).

    A second child requested to try Home Education because of her sister and loved it but wanted to trial Secondary. She immediately went in above a large portion of her peers on all but 2 lesser significant subjects. I’ll pick up the pieces when that Academy traumatises her as they did her older sister.

    Her elder sister is EHE because of the school breaking her basic human rights. She was an A* student who is now thriving and working on a level 2 Diploma and GCSEs.

    Then there is my baby boy. He should be pinned down to a chair being bullied into the New Curriculum but instead he is thriving both mentally and academically as a Home Educated child.

    I support my schooled child and I support my Home Educated child. I also support those locally who find themselves shell shocked when schools have abused their SEN children so badly they have PTS in some cases.

    As for dodging fines? Never fined, never removed my children for holidays and those fines are thousands of pounds cheaper than the cost of Home educating for us.

  31. Karen L

    My daughter, previously autonomously home educated, started school 18 months ago, age 12. Yes, she had gaps in her knowledge with reference to the national curriculum (and excellent knowledge about things not in the NC). Within three months she was one of the top of her class, where she remains. My 13 year old son has just started school – same profile – yes, we will all have to work a little to slot him into the national curriculum, but I know, as does his new teacher, that he will soon catch up. Believe me – you can get to year 7 maths in much less time than the pre-ceding 8 years of schooling. So – there are very few pieces for schools to ‘pick up’ – and this article is also failing to take into account the positives – my children are in school because that is their choice, how refreshing for all concerned. They are free-thinking, questioning, grounded kids, uninstitutionalised and therefore without many of the attitudes inculcated in schools. They should be viewed as a gift to a classroom, not a burden. That this article seems to take the latter view point says much about the reason why people home educate in the first place.

    I also have another child – who is autistic spectrum. Because of this I am on a few parent forums for children with special needs. Some of the stories of how these children fare in school are truly heartbreaking. Recently there was a thread with people talking about how their children had been suicidal because of problems at school – the average age was 10. They were failed, and failed again by teachers, educational welfare and local authorities – leaving the parents to ‘pick up the pieces’ – and we really are talking about children in pieces.

    Earlier this year I attended a course on parenting teenagers with ASD. There were parents/carers of eight SEN kids booked on the course. Two never made it because of issues with school – two had to leave during the first day of the course, because of issues with school – one had to leave the second day, because of issues with school. Of the remainder, not one parent was happy with the way their child was being managed. I was the only home educator. One of the speakers was a lady who helps parents with EHCP plans. Her autistic son, now grown up, had either been excluded or removed from 13 schools by the age of 12. THIRTEEN schools had failed him, eventually he was sent 100 miles away to a private school specialising in Asperger’s.

    This bill and this article are so laden with prejudice and a lack of understanding, it is, as another commentator said, hard to know where to begin. Although teachers actually make up by far the highest proportion of home schoolers that I know, there are so many who remain in the profession that are anti home education. Yet, the same teachers are often deeply unhappy with the system as it is. Maybe if schools had less hoops to jump through and a more relaxed system of learning (such as the Finnish model, which still churns out highly educated children) then there would be less people wanting to home educate and happier teachers.

    So, here’s a thought: Perhaps those teachers unhappy with crap pay, endless beaurocracy and micro-management could join forces with those who have felt so unhappy with the system that they have removed their children – and actually work for change together. If you own a chip shop and customers stop coming, you would ask yourself: ‘What’s wrong with my chips?’ If record numbers of kids are leaving the school system, is it the parents removing their kids that are wrong – or the system?

  32. What do we all expect from ‘schools week’ a fair and unbiased view on home education?. No mention of the failures of schools to address issues as the main reason for home educating? It’s funny how schools week make ‘some kids remove due to fines from poor attendance’ a major reason, not the authorities they asked? Who only seemed to mention it because schools week probably bought it up! As for the statement ‘schools are picking up the pieces ‘ what about parents who pick up the pieces from failing schools or schools that fail to act to safeguard a child? What about kids that fail to learn? What about a government who push for academies, that are a law unto themselves! They answer to no one, but as parents we are told if this bill goes through we must answer to the very people that let academies get away with treating children like profit! And just another number whilst destroying souls and getting rid of the weak! Nothing like blaming Home Education for radicalisation, child abuse, under preformance, welfare bill? Obviously no child under achieves in school, gets abused, radicalised , can’t get a job! But it’s ok their at school! I mean let’s face it, if a child performs badly at school it’s down to the parents and if they perform badly at home it’s down to the parents! Couldn’t possibly down to contact bullying, physically being abuse at school, SEN needs not being met or ignored. A uninteresting, brain numbing, narrow minded, uninspiring curriculum designed to get rid of the weak and create our next load of brainwashed box tickers!

  33. Stephanie Downing

    My borough has no ASD provision and will tell parents that Home education is an option. I would gladly have reviews every year but the only thing that they are going to find is the only thing lacking in our family for support is the same thing and reason many families in this borough choose to home educate and that is a lack of services.
    To be honest the top three reasons for home ed are simple: Bullying, unmet special education needs or a complete lack of provision where in all honesty it would require money to spend that councils are not willing to pay. With the yearly visits I would expect the following:
    – A list of DBS professional tutors if the councils LEA are that way inclined to tell me it is how learning should be done.
    – The same budget that a school would get for said child if said strict way of learning was enforced by said LA so that the child that is following the same rules as schools accessing an education has the same funding threshold.
    – Services that are accessible (as most now are school referral only so you can not access direct help unless it is from a charity or support group) including physio, OT, ASD services, community pediatricians and the massive list of services facing the chopping block due to a lack of usage due to many reasons that are just to many to mention.
    Some how I doubt that this will be the case as when asked the standard response is if you want all that put them in school. My response to them (and to this bill) is if they are not there in the first place than what is the point in cramming more children into already over stretched schools.
    The government is not afraid of home education families they are afraid of the ones that have a voice and a dam good legal reason to turn around and go my child is suffering because they are here and this bill is going to go into obscurity when the government realize there are not enough places for the SEN families that home ed for this reason. I know this is a rant and I am sorry for this and I try not to be personal so when people ask me for a clear example of what I mean I give them this, how many schools that you know have been granted funding for wheel chair and disabled access to bring them up to the same standard of law that say a new shopping center would have to face and I always get this confused look which usually follows with well they are a school its a different situation and when I ask why they can not give me an answer because the answer is there is no solution that does not mean an increase in funding. Its an extreme example I know but you replicate across all needs and you start to see why home ed is rising and why schools can not meet need and something has to give. Solve that problem and home ed will drop, don’t and it is going to continue to rise.

  34. Home education is a perfectly legitimate choice. There is no right or wrong way to educate a child. School works for some and not for others. Like adults children are not all the same and education that suits the child, whatever form that takes, that allows them to flourish and develop into happy, well balanced adults is what is important. I autonomously educated my 17 year old son, for his entire school life. We were visited by the local authority and came into contact with lots of other people on our regular outings, trips and meet ups. Some parents choose not to meet with the local authority. That is their choice and right as home educating parents. It does not mean they are neglecting their children or hiding them away. On the contrary most attend meet ups and engage with other home educating families, both of which can provide a valuable source of support. As a single parent home education was no small undertaking and huge monetary sacrifices were made. However, sharing that journey through childhood with him and participating in his education is the most fulfilling thing I have ever done. I feel very proud of the happy, capable, sociable person he turned out to be and would not have had it any other way.

  35. Ellora Coupe

    This is a ridiculous title, I’m part of a huge London home schooling community and we all feel we were having to home school to pick up the pieces of a failing education system! I have a letter from my sons (8yrs) previous school headmaster citing homeschooling was by far the best solution for him and endorsing our ability to do an excellent job to the council simply because that was true. My sons previous schools, through lack of funding and huge pressure on the teachers, were expected to provide an individual teaching approach for each child and admitted they were not able to do this let alone give any effective one on one attention to a child like my son who needed just a bit more. Homeschooling is a luxury that allows us as parents to teach simply one/two children unlike a teacher who has thirty to manage on her own. We can acheieve huge amounts of progress and support our children with a vast array of online resources all freely available. The home school community are tired of this negative press we have taken the problem of over stressed teachers and made it our responsibility to teach our children and teaching one child is far easier than a teacher has with a class full of kids. It is possible and also highly rewarding and involves huge career sacrifice to teach our own children. We have huge social communities meeting weekly where our children are part of a wider social group and there is nothing they lose from this undertaking. Please start supporting us not hindering our ability with this new Bill which effectively is using a sledge hammer to break a few eggs with its approach.

  36. This article is biased and as mentioned in the article, “an instance where…” and “five councils have said…”
    one reading this article would think, “that’s it?”
    What about all the “other instances” that were executed by great parents ensuring their child is educated to that child’s best ability? “those 5” is a pathetic example. Youre basing this entire article on what 5 councils said without giving examples of successes (which I’m sure outweigh the negative”. Author, children aren’t cattle. They deserve what’s best for them and their parents should be applauded, not shamed.

  37. 6 years ago it became apparent my son was added to the SEN register. 4 years ago he was diagnosed with ADHD, High Functioning Autism and Dyslexia. His stims, his quietness, and his peers noticing his differences made him a target for chasing, poking and prodding. academically he fell behind and this made him more of a target where children were calling him stupid or an idiot. Working alongside these children only made lessons more impossible. 3 years ago my son was physically attacked and these attacks became more frequent and more violent, until they escalated into a an sexual assault. This attack took place in PE where a child squeezed his penis, he cried and begged the child to let go but the child did not and no teachers noticed. He could not pee for 3 days due to the bruising. Every incident has taken time for my son to relay because of his medical condition. The school had a chat with the class and tried to stop what they say was not bullying but in the end the last resort was to keep him inside for his protection – completely isolated. In the meantime his attackers were outside enjoying playtime’s. The child that assaulted him so badly not punches and kicks the teachers – what a wonderful adult he aspires to be. If this was a work place the attacker would be sacked and would be facing police charges or at the very least you would leave and get a new job. If my child was treated like this at home we would have social services remove him for his safety. But in a school the police and social services have no jurisdiction. Instead we get a safeguarding officer have a chat with the headteacher and that was that. I spent 2 years watching the HE’d community and asking myself how I would educate my children whilst I watched the school continuing to fail my son when they said they were working on closing the gap and teaching him social skills. I drew up a plan of how I would teach whilst trying to make school work by getting them additional funding and attending any meetings they requested (which were as frequent as twice a week making working impossible). I took my kids out when the school had taken a year with no academic progress or social, emotional improvements. We have homeschooled for a year so far and NO it is not easy and YES it is costly. But my kids are progressing in every area, they are finally happy, with friends and they are SAFE. That’s what my kids need and thats what we need. School failed and we WON’T be returning.

  38. I have no doubt that, when structured and supervised properly, this is an excellent idea. Our current education system does a fine job of crushing any creative spark that might be harboured by the children with which they are entrusted. Any attempt by engaged parents to maintain a child’s natural sense of curiosity and love of discovery has to be positive; but unfortunately doing so with no supervision from the state is just not a feasible idea.

  39. r mcwilliams

    My ex wife has removed my chidren from school for no known reason and does not do much with them at home other than reading and some maths worksheets found online. The local authority have no powers to inspect and the elective home education board have said they have no money to take the matter any further. It only takes one simple email to remove a child from school by one parent and then there is nothing the other parent can do about it. Its a complete sham

  40. Home education takes place when bullying and anything that a kid would not like to socialize because the kids were not trained to be out with many people around them. However, what we need to keep in mind is that we should always let our kids explore outside their comfort zone and learn from their mistakes.

  41. Jayne Morris

    Please can you help me the school my 7 year old is in. Have only just said that he is at a 4/5 year old and I want him to say at home and someone who will do the Jos the school did not do with like 2 hours a day can you tell me if you do it and how much please thank you for your time Jayne Morris

  42. Knowing how to stay safe is just as important as knowing the family rules. Again, this is something you need to talk over with your mom, dad, or both of them. Go over safety rules for the kitchen if you’ll be doing any cooking while you’re home alone. It’s a good idea to practice what you would do in a real emergency, just in case anything ever happens.

    Kids who are home alone might worry that someone could break into the house and hurt them. The good news is that this is very unlikely. But keeping the doors and windows locked will help you to stay safe.

  43. S McGrath

    I think this article totally misses on very crucial point. The rise in home education has risen in line with each year the Conservative Government have been in office and with each cut to school budgets! Frankly I’m staggered that educated people involved in the production of this document failed to see that.

    Also I’d like to examine in much more detail the causation of absence. My very educated guess is that it’s related to SEND and the failure to provide for special educational needs by schools. Now I’m not blaming schools, SEN Notional budgets are not ring fenced and how much have schools realistically got left in the kitty.

    As a result SEND needs go unmet and EWO letters get fired. Desperate parents dodge that bullet by deregistering. If that is going then that is rabid disability discrimination which warrants a national enquiry not a new bill.

    I think the reporting of deregistrations is not detailed enough. Fine if you want to educate your child – all power to you. Not fine if you are being forced into it to avoid a S444 bullet because your SEND child’s needs are not being met.

    This article REEKS of spin and deflection and it’s frankly dishonest.

  44. It is often quite the reverse… The home ed figures are rising because parents are having to ‘pick up the pieces’ after schools fail their children..

  45. Schools are failing children full stop. Children’s emotional and social needs are being ignored by schools because all they care about is OFSTED and results. They fail to realise that low emotional and social wellbeing also contributes significantly to a negative learning attitude and a child will not reach their full potential unless its supported. Teachers have an out of date attitude that the parents are solely responsible for emotional management and support but again they fail to realise that the school environment has a huge part to play in the impact of this and that if parents witnessed the issues they would try and fix them but issues are ignored as they go on in schools and parents kept in the dark so as anti bullying policies that are not being followed through are not investigated or highlighted. Schools also fail to realise that it’s not 1930 and that mum’s work and do not stay at home waiting for school meetings and events , of which are now bombarded onto working parents to create a ” stronger school and home relationship”. It’s not working and this unrealistic view that parents can take days upon days off work for transition days , school holidays , inset days etc and afford to buy the uniform and school trips that cost tonnes is frankly a joke. Children are also being homeschooled due to lack of spaces in school so it should be the government’s priority to build more ..but it isn’t, their own pay is more important to them . And I couldn’t agree more that SEND are failing children . Children with a complex or who have had a complex family life due to things they cannot control and also children with disabilities are simply pushed out of mainstream schools. Schools want a quiet child that does exactly as “it’s told ” ….and we all know how many children ended up when they were like that in the past ….abused by people in a trusted position . Obviously there is more but i would be on here for days. Times have changed , it’s time to adapt and perhaps you will not get so many children being pulled out of school.
    From a child support worker and advocate for children .

  46. Such a biased and heavily prejudiced article. I opted too HS my daughter after she suffered years of social exclusion at primary school and as a result lost confidence, happiness and began to think she was not a worthwhile person. Despite notifying the teacher and head and giving the school every chance to promote healthy social interactions nothing ever improved in fact it got progressively worse. Finally my lovely daughter was actively bullied by a group of older girls , told she was ugly, that her mother was ugly.
    When I spoke to the head he agreed that this was bullying but then said that if my daughter was alone, left out of games , uninvited to parties and isolated by her peers it wasn’t an issue because ‘a number of children here are bullied by being excluded’.
    I removed my daughter and have HE her ever since and she has grown in happiness and confidence now she is accepted and loved. She finds the lessons given at home better as time is taken to help her truly grasp each concept. Social isolation is not a problem as she plays with local children after school, she has great confidence talking with adults also. I’ve seen her go from strength too strength.
    The state education system is not fit for purpose IMO

  47. This article is shamefully biased.

    I landed here after reading a bunch of research papers that supported structured home schooling. However, this article puts emphasis on the problems with home schooling and leaves out valuable context.

    From the article
    60 per cent rise in the numbers coming back,
    –what’s the correlation with the numbers of homeschoolers going up? What’s the reason for this rise? What factors influence this.

    Ten of the 33 that gave Schools Week reasons for home education mentioned behaviour, threat of prosecution, or risk of exclusion.
    — many holes to pick with this presentation of data whats the actual number who said “prosecution”. It feels like a random grouping in order to arrive at 10 out of 33.

    It leaves us to pick up the pieces. I know one boy who’s been taken out of school because he was getting into trouble, and he’s now doing door-to-door car washing. It’s ridiculous.”
    —-why is this bad? The boy might be learning skills in context that will benefit him more. What else is he doing? Would it be fine if he did this at weekends if he was at school during the week.