Homeschooling in the UK: Everything You Need to Know

Everything you need to know about home education. The basics on how to homeschool in the UK, the pros & cons of homeschooling and homeschool resources.

Why homeschool?

Whilst home education seems to be a more American approach — and previously associated with religious fundamentalists or the hippie movement — many parents and students now consider homeschooling in the UK a legitimate alternative to “traditional” education. 

The UK education system had to quickly play catch-up with the rise of COVID-19. Online learning and homeschooling became more prevalent. 

In fact, the Association of Directors of Children's Services suggests the number of home-schooled children in England rose by 38% in 2020. As many as 75,668 children were home educated on 1 October, up from 54,656 a year earlier.

So with regards to this educational phenomenon: is homeschooling something you should consider? This guide to homeschooling in the UK will help you 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 setting, like a school or university. Parents take full responsibility of educating their child(ren), or employ a homeschool tutor.

What is flexi-schooling?Flexi-schooling is when students opt to be taught at home part-time, meaning they spend some time in school and some time learning at home. This option can be seen as the best of both worlds for both educational and social wellbeing.

What is a full-time education?The UK law states that all children should be in “full-time education” but it is unclear how many hours that should be. The average school day is usually 9am to 3pm with a 1 hour lunch break.

Thankfully you can work around your schedule and organise work/school that you think best suits “full-time” education. You don’t have to stick to formal school times, and could opt for afternoon/evening lessons i.e. 3pm to 9pm with breaks.

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What are the benefits of homeschooling?

The UK education system is notoriously underfunded and lacks a lot of resources. State schools, for example, only have one teacher for a class of 30 pupils — making it harder for teachers 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, from primary through to A-Levels. This can have serious implications on their grades, academic progression and their personal development.

Many students need extra academic and emotional support in their studies, particularly SEN pupils or those from disadvantaged communities, to help them achieve top grades and excel.

Previously, many would ask “why is homeschooling so bad”, when the real question we should be answering is: why homeschool is so good. Education is not a one-size-fits all approach, which is why homeschooling is arguably the best education system in the world.

  • Homeschooling gives you more flexibility
  • You get a personalised home education that suits your child’s needs
  • Children and students’ wellbeing is positive as a result of homeschool
  • Higher quality homeschool resources
  • Ability to teach with the homeschool curriculum with more passion
  • Homeschooling less unnecessary stress for students with social anxiety and removes child from environment where bullying is possible

⭐Top Tip: For more information on why homeschooling is a suitable option for your child, read our blog:Top 10 Benefits of Homeschooling

How does homeschooling work?

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. It is not intended to isolate children, as many form close friendships outside school. Homeschooling in the UK is quite simple, there are a few stages you should follow.

Seek approval from the school If your child is currently studying full-time at school, the first thing you must do is write to their headteacher. You can request flexi-time learning, but the school can reject this proposal. You do not have to request permission from your local council, although they might arrange an informal visit to check that your child is receiving a suitable education. 

When should I start homeschooling? Your child must start school when they are 5 years old. You do not have to adopt the regimented routine of traditional schools, as long as you fit the school day into your schedule.

How to homeschool (UK)
Firstly, you need to work out your approach. Parents can decide how they want to teach their children and 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 learning approach, similar to a traditional education.

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 child?
Parents do not need any formal qualifications to teach their child. As long as you do the research, stick to the homeschool curriculum and find the appropriate resources to use, this will suffice. If in doubt, you can hire a homeschool tutor.

Should I get a homeschool tutor?
Homeschool tutors 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.

How much does homeschooling cost?

Believe it or not, homeschooling in the UK is a cost-effective option. Even though state schools are free, sending children to school is quite expensive: consider the costs of school uniforms, transport, school trips, paying for school meals, etc. The fact that you are in control makes it much easier to homeschool on a friendly budget.

The actual cost of homeschooling varies; it depends on lifestyle choices and budget. Obviously you will need to invest in a computer, broadband connection, stationary materials, subject textbooks or sources, a membership to national homeschool organisations (optional) and admission fees for museums or castles. 

American homeschool families spend an average of $300 to $3000 per year (£210 to £2130). Typically it costs around £1500 to send your child to school in the UK. Therefore, you can expect to save a considerable amount of money by switching to homeschooling.

You will also have to consider extra-curricular activities, like the cost of swimming lessons, performing arts lessons or whatever your child is interested in. It is particularly important to invest in your child’s social wellbeing to help them socialise and develop interpersonal skills.

If you opt for a homeschooling programme or homeschool tutor, we have affordable packages to suit your budget and requirements starting from £30/hr. 

What is the homeschool curriculum?

This national curriculum will vary according to where you live in the UK. To find out the specifics from your local council, visit: gov.co.uk.

The homeschool curriculum is very flexible, giving children the opportunity to choose 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 or learning a modern foreign language.

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. With homeschooling, students can work at a pace that suits them to meet the requirements of the syllabus.

What do homeschool students need to know for exams?

The topics covered on exams will depend on the exam board you choose to go with (AQA, Edexcel or OCR). This will give you a good guide on what you need to teach your child and what they should learn in order to prepare for the exams.

How do homeschool students sit their exams?

It’s fairly easy for homeschool students to sit their exams, you just need to be organised. You will have to book the exams yourself and register your child(ren). Your children will sit the exams in an “exam centre” in controlled conditions, the same as the rest of the school population. 

For UK homeschooling, parents will have to pay for your child to sit iGCSE/GCSE exams and A-Level exams. Each GCSE exam costs £140 per subject and approximately £84 to £196 per A-Level subject. Exam boards provide information about registering for exams as a private candidate (any students who are taught remotely, including homeschooled students).

Want to find out more about Homeschool tuition?

Speak to one of our educational experts and get FREE educational advice on how to find the perfect Homeschooling tutor for you!

Contact us
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