Home schooling (also known as home education, home learning or home teaching) is when a family choose to educate their child, or children, at home instead of enrolling them in a school.
Parents who choose to home school their children usually do so in two circumstances. The first is where a child is educated at home throughout their years of schooling. This might stem from a belief in the home schooling educational philosophy, such as the idea that parents should have the primary responsibility for their child’s education rather than giving this role to a school to carry out.
Alternatively, some children might start at a mainstream school but have a difficult experience, maybe experiencing bullying, or ill health, which leads parents to make the decision that their child might thrive better outside the school system, learning at home. Home schooling is usually taught by a parent, often including group learning sessions with local home schooled children, but may also involve employing a private tutor for some or all of a child’s subject lessons.
Home Schooling at the Law in the UK
A central question that parents ask when considering introducing a child to home learning is, is it legal in the UK to provide a child’s education exclusively at home? In brief, the answer is yes. Under the Education Act, it is a parent’s duty to ensure that their child receives an education, but this does not exclude learning at home. This includes children with a statement of special educational needs, who can also be taught at home.
A home education does not have to follow the National Curriculum, and home schooled children do not have to carry out Key Stage tests, although many do follow qualification courses for educational awards such as GCSEs and A Levels. A home educator – who is usually, but not exclusively, the child’s parent(s) – does not have to be a qualified teacher. There is more detailed information on the rules and regulations surrounding home education in the UK in the ‘home schooling and the law’ section of this website.
Is Providing a Child with their Education at Home Expensive?
The cost of home schooling a child will depend on the type of teaching provided by the parent. While there will be expenses (such as equipment for science experiments, for example) that would be provided for the use of a child free of charge at a maintained state school, there may be savings elsewhere, such as reduced transport costs as home schooled children will usually not have to be taken on a school run! The Home Education Advisory Service, HEAS, says that in some areas of the country some of their home schooling members have been able to borrow equipment from local education resource centres or schools.
Does Home Schooling Mean a Child will Suffer a Lack of Social Life?
This is a common concern, but parents who act to address the fact that their child will not be meeting fellow students on a regular basis in class can avoid social deficiencies. Many home schooling parents have regular meetings with other home educated children and their parents, for example, as well as organising after school activities and club attendance for their children to meet other kids in other situations.