“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” - Nelson Mandela
2020 saw a lot of parents having to homeschool their children more than they’d probably planned to. With the pandemic, some parents might be just thinking of keeping their children at home and teaching them themselves.
Legally, it’s probably much easier than you think. The UK has some of the laxest homeschooling laws around. Of course, children must receive an education, but this doesn’t have to be provided by a school. Parents can choose to teach their children if they so wish.
Homeschooling doesn’t even require children to follow the national curriculum.
Are you interested in homeschooling your children?
Here’s how to do it.
Who Is Homeschooling For?
At any moment, you can decide to homeschool your children. Children who would otherwise be in compulsory education can learn at home. You’ll be responsible for their education until the time they’d normally leave school.
While it’s called homeschooling, it doesn’t necessarily have to take place at home. It could take place in a rented classroom, a library, or even in hotel rooms. There are many different options. That said, homeschooling does usually take place in the home.
There are a few reasons why families consider homeschooling:
- SEN pupils.
- An alternative approach to schooling: unschooling, teaching children who’ve moved during the school year, or ensuring that they learn at a rate that works for them.
- Problems at school: bullying, violence, etc.
With around 50,000 homeschooled children, the UK is one of the countries where homeschooling is most popular. Homeschooling isn’t an irreversible decision, either. You aren’t permanently removing your child from schooling as you always have the option to get your child a place in a school if it doesn’t work out. Of course, they will probably need to adapt a bit to schooling after being homeschooled.
What Do You Need to Do to Homeschool Your Child?
While not obligatory, it’s always a good idea to let your local authority know that you’re planning to homeschool your child.
If you plan to remove your child from school to homeschool them, you may also want to let the school know to avoid misunderstandings. However, again, this is not obligatory.
If you’ve made arrangements with a special school, however, you will need to let them know.
In the UK, you have the right to homeschool your children and, in most cases, you don’t need to notify the local authorities, but you should do so anyway.
You also don’t need to follow the national curriculum, but you do have to provide them with full-time education.
Homeschooled children can still take exams like the GCSEs and A Levels as external candidates.
Providing Full-Time Education
In the UK, homeschooling is referred to as "Elective Home Education" (EHE) and is when parents choose to provide education for their children outside of attending school full-time. It should be noted that this differs from the education provided by local authorities for children who are unable to attend school for health reasons, for example.
There's no clear definition of what the child must receive in terms of education other than "full-time" education and parents are allowed to enlist outside help to provide this, though they aren't obligated in any way to do this if they'd rather just teach their children themself.
Parents also have the option to have some of the child's education take place in school. The practice, known as flexi-schooling, means that the child may be registered at a school with some of their education being provided by the parents as if they were being homeschooled and the rest being provided through schooling provided by the local authority.
The Legal Requirement of Parents
Parents choosing to homeschool their children are fully responsible that their child is properly educated. This is important since the parent bears the responsibility for their child's education whether they attend a school or not.
There aren't any real legal definitions for homeschooling but it's widely understood that homeschooling is covered by Section 7 of the Education Act 1996, which states:
The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause them to receive efficient full-time education suitable -
(a) to their age, ability and aptitude, and
(b) to any special educational needs s/he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.
The "otherwise", broad as it may be, is what establishes the legal requirements of the parents. Homeschooling is considered "education otherwise than at school", which means that local authorities do have the legal power to intervene if they believe that a child is not being educated in a way appropriate to their age, ability, aptitude, or any educational needs that they may have.
The terms "efficient" and "full-time" aren't legally established, either. "Efficient" is understood to mean that the child learns what they're supposed to learn from their education and the definition for "full-time" is usually based around five hours of tuition a day for 190 days a year over 38 weeks.
You don't need to follow a school schedule to the letter, but it's a good idea to spend as much time teaching your child as they would get from a state school if you want to stay on the right side of the law.
Financial Rights for Parents
By homeschooling your child, you are assuming full financial responsibility for their education. This means that you will also have to pay for them to sit exams as an external candidate. Some local authorities provide financial assistance, but this isn’t guaranteed.
Every decision concerning homeschooling should be made with the child's best interests at heart.
If you need more help or tips, you can check out our other articles or the plethora of online and offline resources available from homeschooling websites and communities.
While lessons don't need to follow the rigid structure they do in schools, it's always a good idea to make a plan and set a schedule for your child's homeschooling activities. Homeschooling requires that a child gets a full-time education, but this education doesn't necessarily need to be provided by the parents. Homeschooled children can get all or part of their education from one or several private tutors.
If you're interested in looking at private tutors to help provide your child with their education, consider searching for them on Superprof. There are many talented and experienced tutors ready to teach a variety of academic subjects, extracurricular activities, sports, and arts and crafts.
Even if you're planning on doing all the teaching yourself, you could get a tutor to help you with planning lessons and the curriculum for homeschooling your child.
On Superprof, you can enjoy face-to-face tutoring, online tutoring, or even group tutoring. Each type of tutoring comes with pros and cons so think carefully about which methods will work best for you, your family, and, most importantly, your children.
A face-to-face tutor will often travel to the student's home to teach them one-on-one. They'll adapt the lessons to the student, what they need to learn, and how they learn best, ensuring that every minute of every session is spent as effectively as possible. Of course, this bespoke service comes at a price and face-to-face tutors will usually charge more than online tutors or tutors offering group tutorials.
If you travel around a lot or can't find any suitable tutors in your local area, you can always look for online tutoring. As long as you have a decent internet connection and computer, you can get help from tutors all over the world. This is particularly good for foreign languages as you can find native speakers, but it's also useful if your child is studying for UK exams but you're not currently in the country and need someone from the UK with expertise in GCSEs and A Levels, for example.
Finally, for those on a budget, group tutorials are an excellent option as you can share the cost of the tutor's time and expertise with the other attendees. If other parents are homeschooling their children and would like some extra help from a tutor, you could get your children together in a smaller class with a tutor and split the bill.
A lot of the tutors on Superprof offer the first lesson for free so make sure to try a few different options out before picking the tutor or tutors that are right for you and your family.