COMMONS

Home-educated students deserve fair access to exams, say MPs

18 December 2012

It is "not reasonable" that some home-educated young people have poor access to public examinations, warns the House of Commons Education Committee today in a report calling on the Government to ensure fair access and to meet the associated costs.

The report published today concludes a short inquiry that examined the support available for home educators and their families. Members of the Committee met home educators, national and local support groups, and a number of local authority officers from across the country.

Launching the report, Committee Chair Graham Stuart MP said,

"We support the right of parents to educate their children at home and accept that home educating families should bear the costs of that provision. We don't think it reasonable, however, that it should be so difficult to access an exam centre nor that families should pay exam costs on top of everything else. Everyone else gets to take GCSEs and home-educated children should do so as well."

The report notes that home educators and local authorities (LAs) have, since the Badman Review and its aftermath in 2009, made "real efforts to engage" and to "ensure more constructive relationships and better support", but argues that "there is clearly some way to go". In particular, the Committee notes the 'postcode lottery' element of current provision for home educators, with different LAs offering starkly different services and patterns of support. It calls on the Department for Education to conduct an audit, review the home education guidance given to LAs and to support pilots for 'local offers of support' being published.

The Committee's inquiry also took evidence concerning home-educated young people with SEN, and the report notes "some worrying evidence that provisions were not being fully met as they would be for schooled children". Mr Stuart explained,

"Local authorities have a duty to see that provisions in Statements are met regardless of whether or not the young person attends school. They should seek to support families in meeting their children’s needs, not withdraw altogether. We urge the DfE to investigate these issues and to make the responsibilities of local authorities very clear in this and other areas concerning home education." 

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