Home education is increasingly popular in the UK. It is known as ‘homeschooling’ in the United States. It means that parents take responsibility for their children’s education rather than delegating it to a school. Home education in the UK can take a variety of different forms. The law requires that education should suit each individual child or teenager, so there is no need to follow any system or curriculum.
Temporarily teaching your child(ren) at home
If you are currently educating your child at home because their school is closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this is not the same as home education. Your child’s school may be giving resources or remote teaching. They may require certain assignments, or expect your child to follow the school curriculum. If you expect your child to return to school as soon as the school opens again, or as soon as it seems to be safe to do so, then your situation is not that of an elective home educator.
That’s not to say that you can’t do plenty of things that home educators do when they are at home. You may find some useful links on this site to online resources that may help your child’s educational journey. You can, of course, do plenty of things with your child that are not in the school curriculum and may find that much of what you do overlaps with elective home educators. But when you can’t get out and about, you can’t meet with other families, and you don’t plan to do this long-term anyway, the philosophy is very different. Much of this site is about the philosophy behind home education, and you won’t find that relevant.
If, on the other hand, you are enjoying having your children at home, and they are finding it rewarding to learn in their own way, you might want to consider home educating long term. In the UK that’s easy to do and you’ll find pages on this site about getting started and de-registering them from school.
Home education book
I have had many requests, over the past twenty years, to put this site into book form. Since many pages do not work in print form, I had to decide on a focus and edit it significantly. But finally, with the help of my husband, I succeeded in editing, finishing and self-publishing this book.
It became available, in both paperback and Kindle form, in time to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the site. If you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read it free as part of that package. And to help people thinking about home education during the current pandemic, I’m offering the Kindle edition reduced to 99 pence (or equivalent from other country Amazon sites).
The book is, as the subtitle states, a guide for beginners. It answers the kinds of questions I was asking when we were thinking about home educating, and during our first year. It looks at different styles of home education, and explores some of the possibilities. Some anecdotes are included as examples, and the epilogue explains why we started and continued educating our teenage sons at home.
If the link at the side of this paragraph does not work, you can find the book here: Home Education – What? Why? How? (A Guide for Beginners)
If you read it I would welcome constructive comments, positive or negative. If you would like to ask questions, you can visit the Home Education UK page on Facebook.
Why home educate?
Sometimes parents take children 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. It has suggestions about how to get started and links to resources and legal information for home educators. There is also 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. You could also browse a few home educators’ blogs which describe everyday life for different people.
Estimated numbers of home educators around the UK are somewhat speculative. However, data collected in 2014 shows that in England alone there were over 27,000 home educated students known to their local education authorities. This does not take into account those in other parts of the UK, nor those who are unknown to their LEA. There is no requirement to register, and there may be as many more who are not known. If you are interested in seeing which regions have the highest numbers of known home educators, there’s a map that demonstrates this at the FutureSchool site.
Home education in the UK and the law
Home education is legal throughout the UK, and has been for many decades. However, the laws in the four countries of the UK (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) are not identical.
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 ‘at school or otherwise’. Their education must be suitable for the age, ability and aptitude of each child. The wording is the same 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.’
Thus it is up to each family to ensure that their children receive appropriate education. What exactly that means 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 resources. A growing number follow the ‘autonomous’ style of education. That means that they follow the children’s interests, learning through discussion and life in general.
Navigating this site
This site has a collection of articles about home education, mostly written while we were home educating. You can find links to some of the most popular ones in the menu at the top, or the one in the sidebar, or browse the site via the sitemap. There are also pages on some ‘educational’ topics which I find interesting. Many of these are about maths, and how to introduce mathematical ideas. You can find a list of these on the maths index page. If you are interested in finding general resources for home education, there are some pages with suggestions. They are roughly sorted by subject.
There are also pages with links to UK curriculum providers, to home education general sites, and more. I regularly add links to local groups and try to stay up to date with international sites. If you would like me to add your group or site, or if you find incorrect or broken links, please let me know.
What made our family decide to home educate?
Short version: we moved to Cyprus in 1997 when our sons were eleven and nine years old. We decided to home educate for a few months while we settled in. We liked it so much that we continued. They are now 32 and 30. One worked in a media group in the UK after spending four years working on a ship. He now works for a software company in the UK. The other achieved a high 2:1 in his degree course in the UK, followed by an MA at Nottingham University. He worked in Cyprus for three years, and now teaches in the UK. Neither has regrets about not having been to secondary school.
This site ‘Home Education in the UK’ started on February 1st 1999, so is now twenty-one years old. You can read more about the development of the site in the page about this site.
Site last updated: 13th May 2020