What is Home Educating?
Home educating, elective home education, home schooling, as well as unschooling, autonomous home education and de-schooling to name a few is deciding to take your child’s education in to your own hands, not sending them to state school. People who home school are ‘ordinary’ everyday people. Just like most other families they want their children to succeed and do well, and most of all be happy. There are many reasons why parents decide to home ed, such as:
- an ‘instinct’ to do so from the start
- disagreeing with the school system
- dissatisfaction with teaching methods / the curriculum
- children are unhappy at school
- children may not be ready for school yet
- children / parents may be unhappy with the amount of time children have to spend away from them / siblings
- children may have had negative experiences at school
- children may have special needs that can’t be met at school
- may fit in better with a family’s way of life, such as if parent(s) have to do a lot of traveling within their job
- religious reasons
Laws vary from country to country, in the USA state to state. Home schooling is illegal in Germany (except under very rare circumstances) and Switzerland. In England and Wales the law is clear that while education is compulsory, school attendance is not. The fundamental piece of legislation regarding education in England and Wales is the Education Act 1996 (a consolidating act which incorporates the 1944 Education Act and later legislation). The only relevant sections are:
“The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable ;
a) to his age, ability, and aptitude, and
b) to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.”
Within this definition parents have generous latitude and much freedom. Provided the child is not a registered pupil at a school, (though if they are you have every right to have them de-registered in no more than 3 days) the parent is bound by no other constraints. In particular, there is NO obligation to:
- seek permission to educate ‘otherwise’;
- take the initiative in informing the LEA (again, unless they’ve been in the system, in which case the LEA will be aware of them);
- have regular contact with the LEA (as above);
- have premises equipped to any particular standard;
- have any specific qualifications;
- cover the same syllabus as any school;
- adopt the National Curriculum;
- make detailed plans in advance;
- observe school hours, days or terms;
- have a fixed timetable;
- give formal lessons;
- reproduce school type peer group socialisation;
- match school, age-specific standards.
The LEA’s duties and powers in relation to home-educated children are contained in the Education Acts, 1944 to 1996. These are fully set out in sections 437 to 443 of the 1996 Act and (except in relation to special educational needs) are limited to the provisions of those sections.
“437. – (1) If it appears to a local education authority that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, they shall serve a notice in writing on the parent requiring him to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is receiving such education.”
Flexi schooling is also an otpion, where children are allowed (at the schools discretion) to attend a set amount of days per week and be home schooled for the rest.
So…Home Schooling is legal, you DO NOT have to be a ‘qualified’ teacher, you are not the only ones doing it and there is support available. Back in the 19th century there were actually more children home schooled than in a school. There are different motivations and methods of home schooling and results of a Home Education (both social and academic) vary. This is a source of vibrant debate. Browse my articles to find out MUCH more!
Some famous home schooled people: John Stuart Mill, Patrick Moore, William Blake, Yehudi Menuhin, Bertrand Russell, Her Majesty the Queen.