Homeschooling in the UK: Everything You Need to KnowHomeschooling
Thinking about homeschooling your children but not sure if it's the right decision for you?
Keep reading for the ultimate homeschooling guide…
Homeschooling is on the rise as students and parents discover the benefits of a highly personalised education.
Not so long ago, homeschooling was often associated with barefoot hippies or religious fundamentalists rather than being viewed as a legitimate alternative to a ‘traditional’ education.
However in recent years this myth has largely been dispelled, with many parents seeing homeschooling as not only a legitimate but more desirable alternative to a formal education.
As schools and colleges all over the country become increasingly crowded and resources become more scarce, parents all over the country are choosing to take their children out of school and teach them at home instead.
In 2020, homeschooling has become even more prevalent. Most families have had to homeschool due to concerns around COVID-19 affecting vulnerable family members and lots of them are considering not sending their children back long term.
A survey of 151 local councils by the Association of Directors of Children's Services suggests the number of home-schooled children in England rose 38% in 2020. As many as 75,668 children were home educated on 1 October, up from 54,656 a year earlier.
Whilst many families have said they would send their children back to school post-coronavirus, others have said they would continue to homeschool because of the positive impact of having their children at home.
So, what does this boom in homeschooling mean for UK education? Is it something that you should consider? To help you make sense of this educational phenomenon, we’ve created the ultimate guide to homeschooling, so that you can make the best decision for you and your child.
What is Homeschooling?
Homeschooling is the process of educating students at home rather than in a ‘traditional’ institutional setting like a school or college. Parents accept the full responsibility of educating their child, and will either teach their child(ren) themselves or opt to employ a homeschool tutor.
Students can either be taught at home on a full time basis, or a part-time basis (also known as ‘flexi schooling’), meaning they will still spend some time in school and some time learning at home.
Unlike in a school, children who are homeschooled will rely on their tutor or parents for all academic and emotional support. Homeschooling is not intended to isolate students, but instead gives them the opportunity to really immerse themselves in their studies, aside from the distractions of a noisy and busy classroom.
Whilst the basic principle of homeschooling is pretty easy to understand, the ins and outs of homeschooling in the UK are less well known. Do parents have to follow a particular syllabus? Are there restrictions surrounding how parents choose to conduct their homeschooling? Can people use tutors whilst homeschooling their children? All of these are common questions that this article will provide in-depth answers to.
Why do parents choose to homeschool their children?
Increasing class sizes
The number of students being taught in UK classrooms has increased year on year. Recent Department for Education data shows that secondary school class sizes have inflated to their largest in 20 years.
Cuts to education funding have squeezed school resources and resulted in considerably bigger classes, which can have serious implications for children studying at all levels.
It can be very difficult for a teacher, no matter how great they are, to give their undivided attention to each individual child in their class. As a result of this, many students end up feeling overlooked and left behind in a classroom setting.
Whilst many teachers find this to be incredibly frustrating and would love nothing more than to sit and help each child personally, big classes offer no alternative for teachers - they simply don’t have the time or resources to provide a one-on-one learning experience for the students that need it.
Even in classes of 20, which is the recommended maximum, children can struggle to obtain the personalised learning that they need to ensure success.
If students aren’t getting the support, guidance and attention that they need in school then this can have serious implications on their grades, academic progression and their personal development.
From Primary through to A-Levels, every student is guaranteed to struggle at some point and need a little extra help in order to overcome their issues and really excel. If students' problems are not addressed then this will not only have a significant impact on their academic progression, but is also likely to cause them to become easily distracted, give up on their studies and fail to get the grades that they need.
Homeschooling is a popular alternative for parents as it provides a one-on-one environment that promotes progression, development and independence. These kinds of benefits help a child flourish.
Concerns about the school environment
Many parents choose to homeschool their children due to concerns about their school environment, namely bullying.
Sadly, lots of children will encounter bullying at some point in their school education. The strain on teachers has unfortunately made it harder to tackle bullying in crowded schools, leaving some students feeling unsupported and isolated. If parents are concerned that their children may be being bullied, then homeschooling can often seem like the best option. It can also be a positive choice for those with social anxiety, for whom busy schools can cause unnecessary stress.
Homeschooling removes the child from an environment where bullying is possible, circumventing the psychological and physical impact of bullying as well as the long-term effects that it can have.
Students can still interact with their friends but on their own terms. This means that positive relationships are nurtured and negative ones are cut out - so it is easy to see why parents of children who have had a negative experience at school are favouring homeschooling.
Every student is unique, with individual learning needs, goals and areas of weakness. School curriculums are rigid in format, and need to be taught in a certain way in order to ensure that students receive all the right information within the allotted term-time.
This means that if students are unable to fully understand an element of the syllabus then they can easily fall behind. In a busy classroom, teachers are often unable to give students the individual attention that they need to ensure they are on top of their workload.
With homeschooling, students can work at a pace that suits them. Their parents or tutor are able to explain things as many times as is necessary, ensuring they have the depth and breadth of knowledge that they need in order to excel in their exams.
This is not only beneficial in terms of boosting students chance of achieving high exam grades, but also means that students are receiving a thorough and personalised education.
Moreover, children are able to pursue the subjects they are most interested in. It is of course important to have a strong understanding of the core subjects, such as Maths, English and Science. However, homeschoolers are still able to devote more time to their passions - whether that's playing the piano, learning about different cultures or solving maths equations.
How does homeschooling work?
Contrary to popular belief, homeschooling your child in the UK is pretty simple. Here are the stages you can expect to follow if you decide that homeschooling is right for you…
Remove your child from school
The first thing you need to do if your child is currently in education and you want to take them out of school, is to write to their headteacher. The school must accept if you will be homeschooling full-time but they can refuse to keep your child on part-time.
You're not under any obligation to tell the local authority that you have removed your child from school, but the council may make an informal enquiry to ensure your child is receiving a suitable education.
Work out your homeschooling approach
Flexibility is one of the best things about homeschooling. Parents can decide how they want to teach their children.
Some parents will choose to approach their child’s education in a more relaxed way. Others might enlist the help of a private homeschooling tutor to provide a structured approach to learning more similar to a traditional education.
Homeschooling gives parents the chance to allow their children to follow their interests and passions, develop their strengths and grow into themselves in a more relaxed environment.
Parents and homeschooling tutors have access to a wealth of different resources online, and can also make the most of local libraries when it comes to sourcing books and resources to aid a student’s learning.
Moreover, rather than being restricted by a classroom, parents and homeschooling tutors are able to take their students out into the world, to visit museums and other educational places that will broaden students' minds and help them to better understand the world around them.
However you want to approach homeschooling, it is advisable to ensure you have some form of plan in place so as to be able to track your child’s progress.
Do I need qualifications to homeschool my children?
Parents don’t need any qualifications to teach their children at home. However, it is important that they do their research and use trusted sources when it comes to the materials that they use. This ensures that they are providing guidance that is well-informed and factually accurate.
Alternatively, enlisting the help of a qualified homeschooling tutor will allow you to rest assured that your child is receiving the highest quality of education.
Do I need to follow the national curriculum?
Parents of homeschooled children don’t need to follow the national curriculum but they must ensure their child is in full-time education from the age of five.
Equally, students will be expected to sit both GCSE and A-Level exams, so it is important that their curriculum is tailored to meet the exam board they are using.
The specifics of homeschooling and how it works will differ depending on your area and your local council. To find out exactly how homeschooling works in your area visit gov.co.uk.
How many hours a week should children receive homeschooling?
Whilst the law does state that all children need a ‘full-time education’, it is unclear as to exactly what this means. Therefore, parents will likely work around a schedule that they believe best fits ‘full-time’.
Whether that be the same as a typical school day or at slightly less regimented hours, as long as children receive a thorough and comprehensive education then parents or homeschooling tutors have the flexibility to teach them when and how they see fit.
How do homeschooled students sit their exams?
Students who are homeschooled will need to sit their GCSE and A-Level exams in an exam centre, and it is the role of the student, parent or homeschooling tutor to find and register at an exam centre. Parents will also need to pay an entry fee for each individual exam.
Exam boards such as AQA and OCR provide information about registering for exams as a private candidate (i.e. any students who are taught remotely, including homeschooled students). This information can be found on the respective exam board’s website or you can call them directly if you have any further questions.
When creating a homeschooling plan for older students, it is important to consider which exam board you will use as this can influence how they are taught and the resources used to teach them.
How much does homeschooling cost?
Homeschooling is a pretty cost-friendly option in the UK. Whilst state schools are free, sending children to school is still pretty expensive, with many families having to pay for uniforms, travel, school trips and lots of other costs that can add up to a significant sum.
Parents who were previously educating their children privately will save a considerable amount of money by switching to homeschooling. Whilst the actual amount that it costs to homeschool children will vary depending on how parents choose to approach it, the fact that parents are in control makes it much easier to homeschool on a friendly budget.
Many families who homeschool their children choose to enlist the help of a private homeschool tutor, rather than teaching their children themselves. Private tutoring historically was only for families who were very wealthy, and many parents may worry that hiring a homeschool tutor may be outside of their budget.
However, at Tutor House we offer exceptional homeschooling tutors from as little as £30 an hour. All of our tutors set their own price, so, regardless of your budget, you’ll be sure to find a tutor that is ideal for you!
Follow our Ask An Expert link to talk to an educational expert about pursuing homeschooling.
What are the benefits of homeschooling?
I know we’ve mentioned this one before - but it really is super important. Students who are homeschooled receive a unique form of one-to-one education that is simply not feasible in a traditional classroom environment. Whether children are learning with their parents or with a homeschool tutor, they will be receiving the undivided attention of their teacher at all times.
This will not only ensure they are getting a better quality of education, but will also allow students to work at their own pace, establish their preferred learning style and really thrive in a comfortable and quiet environment.
One of the biggest benefits of homeschooling is that it allows for students to receive an education that is perfectly tailored to suit a child’s exact capabilities, personality, goals and weaknesses.
Many parents feel that in today’s education system, schools place too much focus on students achieving good grades and overlook the importance of the creative learning process itself.
This will ensure that students are gaining all the valuable skills that they’ll need to carry them through their education and will equip them with a great mindset to take into their day to day lives.
Alongside a personalised education, homeschooling also gives both students and their parents or tutors the ability to devise a learning schedule that works for them, rather than having to learn and teach during the ‘normal’ school hours.
For example, if a student works better in the morning, then they can create and work to a schedule that ensures they are addressing the subjects that they struggle with the most in the morning, and then focus on those they find easier or enjoy more later on in the day.
Moreover, if a child excels in a particular area, then the parent or homeschooling tutor have the flexibility to accelerate the learning process, and vice versa.
Homeschooling also allows the tutor or parent the flexibility to teach their student in the style that best suits them. For example, if a child is a visual learner, then their tutor or parent can incorporate more visual aids into their instruction. Homeschooling is unique in its flexibility and ensures that each child gets an education that is right for them.
Consistent and integrated education
Unlike in a school, where children are likely to have several different teachers throughout the course of their academic journey, generally, homeschooled students will learn with the same teacher for an extended period of time.
This means that students receive a consistent education and establish a real relationship with their teacher, allowing them to create a long term plan and work in a constant and comfortable learning environment.
This stability not only promotes learning, but also allows the teacher to cultivate an in-depth understanding of their student and their particular needs so that they can help them to achieve the best results possible.
More resources & teaching materials
With education cuts resulting in tight budgets, schools often don’t have the means to obtain or access the resources that they need to give children the top quality education that they deserve. However, homeschoolers have unprecedented access to the best teaching materials available.
The internet has an abundance of fantastic resources that make home tutoring fun, engaging as well as incredibly effective. Teachers can create an interactive environment that promotes creativity and imagination, and well as academic excellence.
Students and their homeschool teacher have the freedom to experiment with different resources and methods in order to identify what works best for them.
What are the cons of homeschooling?
As with anything, homeschooling is not for everyone. Making the decision to homeschool students should not be taken lightly; it’s a big responsibility and will be a considerable change for both parent and child. There are some less positive elements to homeschooling that must be considered in order to make a well-informed decision about whether homeschooling is right for you.
Socialising is different
It is commonly believed that students who are homeschooled can easily become isolated, spending most of their time on their own or with a tutor rather than in a busy school environment surrounded by other students.
It is often argued that whilst homeschooled students do avoid bullying, peer pressure and other negative elements of an institutional education, they also miss out on the other, more positive aspects of spending lots of time with other student’s their own age. There is a legitimate concern that homeschool students will struggle to keep up with trends in fashion, humour and lingo amongst their peers, along with other important social skills that can only be developed through immersion in youth culture.
However, whilst it is true that homeschooled students do live a slightly more isolated lifestyle in terms of their education, they do not have to become isolated socially and can still experience a fulfilling and beneficial social life.
Homeschooled students can easily mitigate feelings of isolation by joining clubs or sports team and they can also partake in study groups with their friends. They can also, of course, see their friends outside of school hours, ensuring that they are still fostering healthy and positive relationships with others their own age.
A homeschooling tutor can help children to strike the right balance between work and play, ensuring they have a positive homeschooling experience that is enriched, rather than negatively impacted, by their relationships.
Homeschooling can put a strain on the relationship between parents and children
Maintaining a balanced relationship with your children whilst also acting as their teacher can be tricky, and this is one of the things that parents who opt to homeschool their children struggle with most.
Parents who are just beginning their homeschooling journey will suddenly find that they are spending a lot of time planning school-time activities and handling the administrative work of being a teacher. They are also tasked with the challenge of creating a learning plan that is both enjoyable for their child and effective in terms of preparing them for the next step in their educational journey.
On top of these new responsibilities, they must also keep up the full-time job of parenting, managing the emotional, psychological and social welfare of their child in addition to practical things like laundry and cooking meals. Unsurprisingly, many parents feel overwhelmed by the workload and responsibility, which can cause issues for both the child and parents.
Whilst frustrating, this issue is easily mitigated through enlisting the help of a private homeschooling tutor.
With the assistance of a homeschooling tutor, parents are still able to have a say in what their child learns and how they learn it. Your homeschooling tutor will be able to provide a wealth of fantastic advice when it comes to the best way to approach homeschooling in order to maximise positive development. With a private tutor onboard, parents can rest assured that their child is receiving the highest quality of learning possible.
Employing a tutor also enables parents to avoid blurring the lines between parenthood and tutoring, preventing any possibility of their relationship with their child changing or deteriorating.
Why hire a homeschool tutor?
The significant surge in the number of home-schoolers within the UK is indicative of the increasing responsibility and importance of tutors and one-to-one private tuition.
Whilst some parents endeavour to teach their children themselves, this can be incredibly time consuming, and can put a significant strain on the relationship between students and their parents.
When children are homeschooled, the quality of tuition they receive is of incredibly high importance as students rely solely on the support and guidance of their tutors to help them to develop both academically and emotionally.
For this reason, there are a number of reasons why parents choose to enlist the help of a homeschool tutor. Not only does it remove the pressure of having to teach their children themselves, but it also means that parents can feel safe in the knowledge that their child is in qualified and expert hands when it comes to their education.
Tutor House’s homeschooling tutors are the very best in the business, providing top quality homeschooling tuition to students across the UK. They will work tirelessly to create a learning plan that is perfectly tailored to your child’s needs, taking into consideration their academic experience, personality, and learning style.
Our private tutors are qualified to teach across a wide range of subjects and levels, meaning that you’re guaranteed to find a homeschooling tutor that is ideal for your child’s learning requirements.
The one-to-one setting of a homeschooling tuition session means that students are guaranteed the undivided attention of their tutor, with no chance of distraction. You and your tutor will be able to work together to decide what your child studies, when they study and how long they study for.
A Tutor House Homeschooling tutor will make sure to teach children how to approach problems in a methodical yet creative way, ensuring that they understand the why's as well as the how's.
Your tutor will care about your child’s progression just as much as you do, encouraging them to think independently whilst gently guiding them in the right direction.
With a Tutor House homeschooling tutor, your child will experience a unique and personalised learning experience that is guaranteed to help them excel, both inside and outside the classroom. Unlock your child’s full creative potential by contacting us about homeschool tuition.
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Cover Image by Elise Pearce