Many people in the UK do not realise that British home education (known as 'homeschooling' in the USA) is legal, and becoming more popular all the time. Although the laws in the four countries of the UK (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) are not exactly the same, home education is legal in all of them.
If you would like to ask questions or discuss home education with like-minded people, you might like to see the new Home Education UK page on Facebook.
Are home educated children isolated from other children? Are they able to make friends with a wide variety of people? Will they be able to fit into society as adults if they haven't been through the ups and downs of school life? Do they become too dependent on their parents, and reluctant to go out to meet new situations and people? What do we mean by socialisation anyway?
Home education and the law
According to the 1996 education act in England and Wales, it is parents (not the state) who are responsible for providing their children's education 'in school or otherwise'. Their education must be suitable for the age, ability and aptitude of each child. The same wording is used in Northern Ireland. Scottish law says that 'every child has a right to an education, and it is the duty of the parent of every school age child to provide that education, either by sending the child to school, or by other means.'
People are often
surprised to learn that there are
no rules for how families go about their home educating in the UK. It's
up to each family to
ensure that their children receive appropriate education, which will
vary from child to child. Home
educators in the UK
do not have to be trained
teachers, nor do they need
any special qualifications to educate their children. Although
some families choose to use a structured 'homeschool'
curriculum, others pick and choose educational books from bookshops.
Still others use the Internet and libraries to find
suitable educational resources, and a growing number follow the
'autonomous' style of education, following the children's interests,
learning through discussion and life in general.
Why home educate?
Sometimes children are taken out of school due to bullying or other serious problems, but there are a growing number of British parents who home educate their children from the start. This site explains some of the reasons that families in the UK are choosing home education, with suggestions about how to get started and links to resources and legal information for home educators, with a guide to taking GCSEs for those who wish to do so.
If you're concerned - as so many are - about the social side of home education, try reading the the socialising articles, or browse a few home educators' blogs which describe their everyday life; sometimes hectic, but never lacking social activity.
How to home educate
For a more structured walk through some of the relevant concepts, start here for a quick tour of home education theory and practice, or check the sitemap. There are articles to read about various aspects of home education, and also parenting in general. If, like many, you worry about helping your children with maths, you might be encouraged by some of the maths articles that show how to introduce topics gently and learn together.
If you have any questions about home education, please do get in touch. However you may find more up-to-date local information from those currently home educating in the UK. The mailing list pages can tell you ways of contacting some of them, or you might find a useful local group.
If you would prefer to read a book about this topic, there are several recommendations on my home education books page. I would particularly recommend Teach Yourself Home Education (by Deborah Durbin) for new home educators, or anyone wanting to know about research, legalities and methods in detail, Free Range Education: How Home Education Works (edited by Terri Dowty) if you would prefer to read personal accounts of about twenty different families who embarked on home education in the UK, or Learning without School by Ross Mountney, which combines theory about all aspects of home education with plenty of personal anecdotes and relevant quotations from other home educators.
Home educating outside the UK
In other countries there are different regulations about homeschooling. Most English-speaking and European countries allow it to some degree, although it's important to check local regulations. The home education abroad page gives details of the rules in a few countries - if you know about others, please let me know.
What made our family decide to home educate?
Short version: we moved to Cyprus in 1997 when my sons were eleven and nine years old, and decided to home educate for a few months while we settled in. We liked it so much that we continued. My sons are now 26 and 24. One works in a media group in the UK after spending four years working on a ship, and was married a couple of years ago. The other achieved a high 2:1 in his degree course in the UK, and is currently competing an MA at Notthingham University. Neither has any regrets about not having been to secondary school.
This site 'Home Education in the UK' was launched on February 1st 1999, so is now more than fourteen years old. You can read more about the development of the site in the page about this site.
Site launched (at
Geocities): 1st February 1999
Site moved to home-ed.info: 1st May 2006
Last updated: 15th June 2013