This month we hear from a family who's found home schooling to be a very positive experience. Read on as one of our education consultants tackles another parent's question.
Q: My friends say I'm mad - but I want to keep home educating after lockdown. What do I need to know?
A: We may not be dancing in the streets or shinning lampposts when (if!) schools return to normal. Most parents, though, will certainly want to let out a small, discreet cheer when teachers are liberated from their virtual classrooms.
But what if home schooling your child has brought out your inner educator and you want to continue after lockdown ends? It may also be a financial necessity if changed employment circumstances have put school fees out of reach.
First of all, you’re not alone. Officially, around 60,000 families in England home school their children (2018 statistics) - though as there’s no national register, it’s likely to be far higher.
The UK’s approach to home education is one of the most relaxed in the world. Education is compulsory – but school isn’t. Home education is completely legal (not the case in some other countries), there’s very little red tape and almost complete freedom about what or how you teach.
If you don’t want to follow the national curriculum or prepare your child for formal exams, then don’t. Government advice talks about providing a ‘suitable’ education. They say this ‘should ... [enable] the child to function as an independent citizen,’ which leaves plenty of scope for interpretation – though local authorities may ask for 'evidence' of how and what your child is learning.
The one thing that lockdown has demonstrated is that the internet is teeming with high quality resources, free and paid-for. Whatever the subject or level, the chances are that someone, somewhere, will be offering it – though we’d always stress carrying out safeguarding checks.
There are downsides, of course. While most parents can cover core subjects at primary level, home schooling your child through GCSEs without a battery of paid tutors is possible but extremely tough – and costly. A levels ditto - and more so.
For children, the hardest part is missing out on friendships. Local home education groups (find them on Yahoo and Facebook) fill some of the gaps with trips and gatherings. But for older children, that may not be enough. One answer could be flexi schooling. Unfortunately still offered by only a tiny number of schools, it allows families to combine home education and part time attendance at school.
The bottom line is that home education can be highly successful - but you need to be absolutely sure it’s for you, and your children, before taking it on. There’s more information on The Good Schools Guide website and from organisations listed below.
Home Education Advisory Service
UK based charity offering advice and practical support, founded 1995 by group of home educators. Subscription-based. Subscribers get information leaflets, the Big Book of Resource Ideas and the Home Education Handbook and list of local contacts.
P.O. Box 98
Welwyn Garden City
One of longest-established home education organisations. Useful links (many already included here). Site includes information on legal situation for home educators.
PO Box 3761,
Tel: 08454 786345