Summary of the results
The survey was conducted between July 7th 2020 and August 1st 2020. In total 202 people took part in the survey. The survey was sent out to all members, and they were asked to share it with both members and non members. It was also shared on social media, both the private and public HEN facebook pages and other facebook pages not managed by HEN.
The survey covered the following areas
1. HEN membership
Respondents were 82% members versus 18% non members
Top reason for not becoming a member was that people don’t know enough about HEN.
2. Children and start of HE
- Largest age profile within the community is the 6-12 year olds (72%).
- 56% of the children have left the school environment.
- 98% found positive changes in the children when they left school.
- 90% of Parents reported that the children seemed more content and relaxed.
- 79% became calmer/less anxious.
3. Reasons for HE
72% of Parents felt the decision to home educate was made by choice. For the other 18%, home education was a necessity due to feelings that fell into a common theme of being let down by the school system. This ranged from feelings that they “expected the system to be better” to “special needs children who did not receive the care we expected”.
Parents also reported that although the decision has been circumstantially driven, now that they are home educating, they are very happy with the decision and the home environment is much better for their children.
56% of Parents had concerns about HE, the main concern being around socialisation/ community. Wanting the children to have peers and a wider support network outside of the family unit.
4. Additional Needs
40% of Parents reported having a child with additional needs. Over 86% said this fully or partly factored into their decision to HE.
34% reported that they felt the child misses out on resources that they would have accessed via school. Services and therapies were the most commonly reported (specifically July provision, NEPS, assistive technologies, speech and OT).
5. Return to school
15.8% reported that the child(ren) returned to school; half of these stated this was because the child asked to return to school. Children returning to school were predominantly “able to handle school demands calmly, [were] more focused & motivated”.
“Teachers remarked on their focus, ability to communicate with staff and peers, ability to take initiative without instruction”.
Parents mentioned that children “Did well returning to school but anxiety returned due to “school expectations”, so they chose to “HE again” or “Returned home again as they found it limiting”.
6. Tusla Assessment Process
Observation from the responses – A number of Parents don’t have a full understanding of the 3 different types of assessments, 1. Preliminary, 2. Ongoing, 3. Comprehensive.
Preliminary – Just over half of the respondents had a preliminary assessment. 64% had the assessment at home, 26% had a phone assessment (remote assessments were introduced towards the end of 2019). Other options were to have it in another location or also by email.
63% of families had the child(ren) present at the assessment with only 25% of Assessors requesting this. 35% of Parents felt the Assessors attempted to assess the child’s knowledge.
When asked how they like the preliminary assessment process to be improved, the majority of Parents reported they would like for consistency in the process and the Assessors. They would also like a clearer understanding of what to expect.
Ongoing – The majority of ongoing assessments happen approx 2 years after the preliminary, with Parents mentioning that it happened when a sibling was having a preliminary assessment.
Parents found the ongoing assessment experience positive, but improvements to the process would be to make it less stressful for the families with one parent stating they would like it to be “less fraught and combative”. Respect is needed and it should not make the child(ren) feel ‘put on the spot’. It could also be reduced in length.
Comprehensive – During the comprehensive assessment Parents reported only 50% of the Assessors asked questions to assess the child(ren)s knowledge. Not all Parents were present when the child was questioned. 77% felt it reflected their homeschooling approach. When asked what improvements they would make to the process
Parents said to “Shorten it, it’s far too long”.
Reports – Majority of Parents felt the report provided by Tusla was accurate, with only 27% asking for changes to the report.
HEN – When asked “How do you think HEN could support you better for your assessment?” Almost 39% of responses wanted more clarity and information provided.
7. HEN Aims
When we asked what HEN should focus on more, Parents said we should provide more information about routes to qualifications and on services available for children with additional needs and how to get them when home educating.
Survey Report Conclusion
- We did not record the dates that assessments took place.
- A number of Parents don’t have a full understanding of the 3 different types of assessments, 1. Preliminary, 2. Ongoing, 3. Comprehensive.
We are very happy with the quality and quantity of the answers, this information is already helping HEN focus its work on areas that matter most to the community. We feel this survey has helped to confirm some anecdotal information we used or had. This has given more perspective on the views of the community.
With thanks to all the families who participated. We are very grateful for the information provided and have already started to use this to shape HEN going forward.
Thanks to Marta Dorigo Salamon and Genie King for the creation of the survey.