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Home Schooling

As many as 80,000 children in the UK are currently home-schooled.

This guide to home-schooling will help you to answer the question: ‘should I home-school my child?’ Also, it provides some useful links.

Basic Considerations

You must make sure your child receives a full-time education from the age of five, but you don’t have to send them to school, or follow the national curriculum.

Schools receive a minimum of £4,700 per child per year from local authorities and central government. None of this is accessible to you for home-schooling. There are no grants or subsidies!

Take into account these considerations:

Financial

  • Can you afford to give up your job – and salary? If you and/or your partner decide to stop work to home-school your child, or if you both work part-time and share teaching, weigh up the financial loss and increased stress
  • You might actually save some money by home schooling – costs of travel, uniforms, school dinners etc.
  • However, bear in mind that you will have to invest in a large range of materials – text and reference books, pens/pencils and exercise books – in order to have a well-stocked classroom
  • You might need to hire a tutor for specific subjects – if you have problems with reading or maths (for example), or if your knowledge is weak in some areas
  • You will need to pay privately for your child to sit national exams like GCSEs and A/S Levels. The relevant fees might be steep, so do check

Legal and procedural requirements

  • You don’t need to have a teaching qualification
  • Your local authority has the right to look into the education you are giving your child. If they find it unsatisfactory, they can insist that your child attends a school
  • Look at the guidelines published by the Department of Education: Although aimed at local authorities, they give some useful background information
  • Visit: https://www.gov.uk/home-education for more details, including a link to your local authority so you can ask about their policies on home schooling
  • If your child is currently in school, you need to inform the head teacher in writing that you plan to withdraw them. If you are hoping to send your child to school part-time, the head teacher has the right to refuse
  • If your child has a statement of educational needs and attends a special school, you’ll need the consent of your local authority to home-school them
  • If your child has Special Educational Needs, the council may be willing to help with home schooling, provided that you have an EHC (Education, Health and Care) plan in place. Approach your local authority if this is the case

Other practicalities

  • School is a good place to learn socialisation skills. If you are removing your child from school, do you have access to other children and adults, in a supportive networking group?
  • If you want your child to sit public exams such as GCSEs or A/S Levels, you will need to register in good time. Your local examination centre will probably be a local school
  • Some local authorities offer workshops in home-schooling techniques. Contact yours to find out if any are available in your area

Some questionable reasons to home school your child

Home schooling can be an excellent choice – but make sure you are considering it for the right reasons. Take a second look at your motives if:

  • You were bullied/unhappy at school, and you are worried your child might have the same problem. Your child is a unique individual, and needs to discover their limits for themselves
  • You are worried about being alone when your child goes to school. Your child’s educational and social needs are paramount. View your child’s starting school as an opportunity for you to enrol in an adult education class, do some volunteer work, or join local clubs
  • Your child throws a tantrum whenever starting school is mentioned. If you give in to this, you are teaching your child that they can get their own way in life by screaming and shouting
  • English is not your child’s first language and you are worried they will struggle. Remember, children pick up new languages much faster than adults. The sooner your child starts school, the sooner they will be able to converse fluently with their peers

…And some good reasons to home school your child

Valid reasons include if:

  • You want to give your child the freedom to follow their own passions and develop their talents
  • The local schools are all performing below average, and you feel you could provide your child with a better education
  • You want your child to continue to practise the family’s faith during school hours
  • Your child is being bullied, and the school is failing to intervene successfully. Have you explored whether or not there is a school nearby with a tougher anti-bullying policy?
  • Your child has mild learning difficulties – not enough to be statemented as ‘special needs’, but enough to make the school system bad for their morale, confidence or self-esteem
  • Your child has a disability or difficulty that hinders their functioning to the best of their abilities in a school environment
  • Your child is shy, sensitive or very quiet, and is frequently overlooked in class. The large class size – in state schools in particular – can be a negative factor for many pupils. An independent (private) school could be another option
  • You can supply the best education!

Final thoughts

If you decide to teach at home, you can get great advice from fellow home educators and specialist organisations.

  • ’Education Otherwise’ is a home-schooling organisation that offers facts and support. Take a look at the website, which offers links to local ‘EO’ groups. Find out if there is one in your area, and make contact
  • On all social media channels you will find “Groups” dedicated to home schooling. Facebook in particular have some extremely lively groups where home-schooling parents constantly interact
  • And of course, use Education Quizzes for a variety of educational activities based on national curriculum subjects!
  1. Home education will have several expenses. Will the government give you any help to meet these?
    The Department for Education make government policy very clear - "Parents who choose to educate their children at home must be prepared to assume full financial responsibility"
  2. What qualifications do you need in order to teach your child at home?
    You don't need to have any qualifications but if you want to give your child a good education (a legal requirement) you may wish to hire a tutor for those subjects you are not an expert in
  3. What action will the local authority take if it believes your child is not receiving a suitable education?
    The Department of Education guideline state - "[if] a parent... fails to satisfy the local education authority... that the child is receiving suitable education... the authority shall serve on the parent... a "school attendance order"... requiring him to cause the child to become a registered pupil at a school"
  4. Who must you inform in writing if you wish to withdraw your child from school?
    You must notify the head teacher in writing before you withdraw your child from school. If your child has a statement of educational needs then you’ll also need to check with your local authority before you can home-school them
  5. Approximately how much does it cost to sit a GCSE exam?
    There may also be an additional administration fee, so be prepared! It is recommended that you register your child for each exam at least 6 months before they are due to be sat as each exam has a closing date for entries
  6. One criticism of home-schooling is that a child's socialisation skills may suffer. Which of these options is a recommended way around the problem?
    As long as a home-schooled child has plenty of social contact then their socialisation skills will be just as good as anyone else's. As well as the above suggestions there are also home-schooling groups you can join for social activities. Visit http://www.educationotherwise.net/ for lists of groups in the UK
  7. Which of the following is a good reason to educate your child at home?
    If the local schools are performing badly and you can give your child a better education then you may consider home-schooling. If your child doesn't want to go to school then find out why - are they being bullied or are they just being difficult? If you fear bullying then contact the head teacher to talk about the issue before removing your child from school. And if your child does not speak English then where better to learn than immersed in an English-speaking school?
  8. What are you required to teach if you home-school your child?
    The government website https://www.gov.uk/home-education states that "you must make sure your child receives a full-time education from the age of 5 but you don’t have to follow the national curriculum". Be advised however that the curriculum you offer your child should try to develop all your child's abilities. If your local authority believes your child's education is lacking then they may well take action
  9. Which of the following is NOT a good reason to educate your child at home?
    The first two options are good reasons. A good school would try to get the best even from shy children but large class sizes often mean their education suffers. If your child's talents lie outside of the National curriculum then state schools will fail to develop them. If the local school cannot protect your child from bullies then removing them may be the best option - either to another school or to be educated at home. The child's education is paramount in all situations so you should never keep them out of school for your own benefit
  10. How many children in the UK are home-schooled?
    According to http://www.home-education.org.uk/ - that's less than 1% of children at compulsory educational age, though the numbers are growing year-on-year

 

Author: Linda Innes

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