Education Committee Call for Evidence – Accentuate the Positives

Encouragement for all EHE families to take this opportunity of making sure MPs hear from you on the benefits of family-based education.

Previous Byte in response to this Call for Evidence:

Subsequent Bytes in response to this Call for Evidence:


What’s been said?

This is our second article about the recent Call for Evidence on Home Education published by the House of Commons Education Committee. If you have not read the first one please do so, as key points are not repeated here. Attached to that article is a document reordering the areas about which the Committee have requested evidence. It divides the eight areas of evidence into three distinct groups in the hope of simplifying the response process for you.

This Byte addresses the first of these, which consists of just one area of evidence. The others will be considered in further Bytes. Here you can put forward as much evidence as you wish about the benefits of EHE.

From now on we refer to these areas of the Inquiry by the number derived from their original listing order – see document referred to above.

Respondents should be aware that the Committee requests written submissions addressing any or all of the listed points. You may prefer not to respond to all the issues listed, or simply to group some together. (If you do group them, be sure to identify clearly which aspect you are responding to in each part of your submission.)

Why does it matter?

The third matter the Committee asks for comment on is:

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

Here is an excellent opportunity for the EHE community to express what they consider to be the benefits of being taught in a family setting. Such an open request should not be overlooked even by younger members of your family, should they wish to take part. (Note: submissions are requested as uploads of text documents via the Inquiry webpage – as .doc, .odt or .rtf files. Where possible young people’s responses should be typed, but if this not practical, scans of handwritten documents may possibly be accepted in the correct format.)

Perhaps those best placed to contribute evidence in this respect are those who have completed their HE journeys, whether previous students or parents. So do ensure that any “no longer” HE families known to you are aware that their response to this Call for Evidence would be appreciated. We trust a good percentage of former HE students will be able to say how they appreciate having been taught at home.

A recent example is celebrity Nadia Sawalha’s daughter Maddie who sent her parents an on-air thank you message for “sacrificing so much” to educate her at home. She continued, “It’s helped me discover what I want to do with my life. It’s one of the best things you’ve ever done for me.”

We know she is far from alone in feeling this way, which is why we urge those no longer engaged in home education to stand with today’s and future generations by making sure MPs hear plenty about the benefits of HE.

The second part of this request for evidence reads “the potential disadvantages they may face.”

No doubt the Committee is expecting Local Authorities and those “concerned” about home education to put forward arguments such as not being taught by trained teachers, and the ever-present socialisation fear. To combat such fearmongering, we encourage you to highlight the oppressive atmosphere generated by over a decade of HE being described in negative tones by lobbyists, senior civil servants and local and national politicians.

Our initial comment on this Inquiry quotes a child’s response to last year’s consultation, which serves to highlight the way such remarks discourage and discriminate against EHE children.

The hostile environment created by linking HE with a list of inflated concerns (see our previous report on news from France, for example) has stigmatised HE children and their families from many backgrounds.

Is your child weary of questions like “Shouldn’t you be in school?” If you too are tired of being viewed with suspicion by hospital staff or health visitors, use this question to tell the Committee that governments and LAs across the UK should put a stop to the continual maligning of caring parents.

We are all weary of back-handed compliments about the majority of HE families being fine, when they are followed by a “but” which then raises concerns about distorted reports of abused HE children who commonly were already known to LAs and therefore not “hidden” at all.

There are other concerns about the way the state disadvantages HE children, like their failures over this year’s national exams for example, but these can better be raised in response to other sections.

Please take this as an ideal opportunity to push back against the negative press with which home educators and their children have been bombarded for far too long. (You can find plenty of examples in the pages of this website!)

What can I do?

Determine right now that you will respond to this Call for Evidence.

Begin soon by drafting your list of benefits alongside a list of what you are weary of hearing about its dangers.

Encourage other home educators – past, current or future – to make time to constructively inform Parliament of the positive outcomes of their educational experiences. Since Joy Baker stood up to her LA in the 1950s, many HE children have successfully made their way into responsible adulthood across the UK. Don’t let them be maligned by political idealists.

Discuss the points you could make with other HE parents, but don’t clone your responses – write about your own experiences.

If you want to share your experiences collectively, then your local HE group could make its own submission. Remember though that the number of signatories would not be taken into account; the group’s submission would be considered as one item only. Note too that submissions exceeding three thousand words also require a introductory summary; two thousand five hundred words could be a good target if you don’t want the additional work.