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A guide to homeschooling

Posted by:
Bianca
on:
February 5, 2022
in: 
Reading time:
3
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In the past few years, the pandemic forced millions of parents to work from home and put their teacher hats on to support their kids as they adapted to remote learning. And even when schools reopened, infections in the classroom and mandatory quarantines had parents ready to help their children follow the curriculum from home again at any time.

Stressful? Most definitely. However, as the growing number of families who make the switch to permanent homeschooling show, the experience was also often a success.

If you’re considering taking your child’s education into your own hands and enjoying the flexibility and quality family time that homeschooling offers, you may feel overwhelmed by the transition. This guide will help you understand how to switch to homeschooling in the UK, the costs you can expect to face, and the best tips to make sure homeschooling works for your child and helps them succeed in life.  

How to start homeschooling in the UK

Many don’t know that in the UK, you can opt for full or part-time home education, and that homeschooling is a right.

Part-time homeschooling can be especially beneficial to help students adapt gradually to their new education and allow parents to have more time to dedicate to work. However, not all schools will accept part-time home education as they’re not required to do so by law.

On the other hand, if you want to homeschool full-time, the school must accept your choice. Either way, if your child has already been enrolled in school, you must inform the school and the local council of your plans.

Homeschooling and the UK national curriculum

One of the most common questions among first-time homeschooling parents is: “Do I have to follow the national curriculum if I educate my child at home?” and the answer is No.

If your child is being schooled at home full-time, you have no obligation to follow the curriculum. This gives you great flexibility to tailor your education plans around your child’s needs and aspirations, ‘field trips’ available to you, and your weekly schedule. 

However, you do have an obligation to ensure your child is ‘properly educated’ from the age of 5. There are no strict requirements or definitions for a proper education, but local authorities may ask to come visit and check the amount and quality of the education your child is receiving.

What do I need for home education?

Each child and family is different so what works for some, won’t necessarily work for others. These are some things you may want to consider before and while you educate your kids at home:

  • Environment. Light, space, and reducing distracting noises help provide a productive environment.
  • Visuals. Maps, boards, flashcards, pictures and other visual elements will help stimulate your child’s interest and creativity. Many students enjoy helping decorate the classroom.
  • Curriculum. You don’t have to follow a specific curriculum but the beauty of homeschooling is its flexibility — you get to pick and choose as many elements as you wish from as many school curricula as you like! It can be really helpful to read about different education styles (i.e. Montessori, Unschooling, Charlotte Mason, and more) as your plan your child’s education.
  • Field trips. From local museums and parks to the kitchen, homeschooled children have the opportunity to learn virtually all subjects in the field and adopt a hands-on, interactive learning approach. Research your local area to make the best of it!
  • Costs. Homeschooling can be quite expensive. Consider textbooks and school supplies (from chair to stationery), private exams, tutors, sports clubs and camps, technology, a potential loss of income as you dedicate more time to family, etc. On the other hand, you’ll save on uniforms, school lunches, and transport, and there are plenty of free homeschool resources online.

Where to find support for homeschooling in the UK

One of the most controversial sides to homeschooling is its social aspect. Without a whole school full of children, home educating parents must find other ways to ensure their kids spend plenty of time with their peers. 

Fortunately, the homeschooling community is wide and extraordinarily active in the UK and you’ll find plenty of support, whether you’re looking for a playgroup or someone to help out with language classes. Here are some resources for home education:

  • Local council and authorities. Make sure to check the government website to find information and resources specific to your area.
  • Tutors are some of the greatest home education experts out there. Contact our team of passionate educators today to find out how they can help.
  • Libraries, museums and other local cultural institutions that often offer social activities for free.
  • Parents groups — find them online or through cultural and sports institutions.

FAQs

Do you need qualifications to homeschool your child in the UK?

The short answer is No. In most cases, you don’t need to be a trained teacher nor have specific qualifications. There are some exceptions applying to children who attend special institutions, make sure to check with the school. Of course, you may want to hire professional tutors or enroll your child in class groups for certain subjects — like Spanish classes.

Will my homeschooled child get into university?

Homeschooled students have the right to apply to go to university in the UK and will be accepted just like anyone else if they meet the relevant admission requirements. It’s advisable to start working on these requirements well in advance as it may be harder for homeschooled students to gather the relevant supporting documentation. This may include:

  • UCAS academic reference
  • Exam results (homeschooled students can sit relevant exams as private candidates)
  • Sample of marked written work

How many hours should you homeschool every day in the UK?

Even though the government says that homeschooled children should receive a ‘full-time’ education, it does not specify what this means. Instead, it clearly states that home-educating parents are not required to:

  • Have a timetable
  • Set hours during which education will take place
  • Observe school hours, days or terms

What this means is that you need to dedicate enough time to your child’s education to meet their education needs, but that you don’t have to follow any rigid requirement or schedule.