Are you considering home schooling your child in the UK? Charlotte Gater, Head of Curriculum at Explore Learning, shares her advice and feedback from parents who have already taken this step…

The popularity of choosing to homeschool children has increased significantly in recent years with an estimated 80,000 homeschooled students in the UK each year. The growing number of children known by councils to be educated at home was 27% higher in 2018 than in 2017 – and has risen by 20 per cent in the last five years.

At Explore Learning, we support many families who have opted to home educate their children. I increasingly find myself talking to parents who are thinking about this option and are wanting advice on this huge decision.

Why is homeschooling on the rise in the UK?

According to BBC research, UK homeschooling rose by a further 75% in 2021. This was partly due to a desire to shield and reduce social contacts during the 2020 pandemic.

Reasons for homeschooling

Other reasons for the rise include:

  • Concerns that state or public schools can not provide enough support or attention

  • Health concerns

  • Issues with bullying or behaviour when attending school

  • Creating a more comfortable environment for SEN students to learn

Home schooling UK primary children

What does it really take to home educate your primary aged child?

What are the requirements for homeschooling in the UK?

Both full time education at home and part time homeschooling is allowed in the UK. Parents must inform their child’s school that they are planning to home school.

Parents also need to ensure that they give their child full time, suitable education from the age of five. However, you don’t need to follow the National Curriculum.

Your local council may check that your child is receiving adequate education by visiting your home.

How to homeschool in the UK

To get started, you first need to contact your child’s school. If you are taking them out of school completely, they have to agree to the change. However, they can object if you intend to keep your child in school part time.

Homeschooling pros and cons

Following feedback from parents, here are some of the advantages of home education.

Advantages of homeschooling UK

There are plenty of advantages of homeschooling and learning at home so long as you’re fully prepared to take on the responsibility and are aware of what your child needs to know!

  • Children can work at their own pace. Whether they are super keen on a topic and want to do more or are finding things tough and need more time, you can cater for all scenarios.

  • Low ratios. Fewer children to teach per adult offers the opportunity to get through more work more quickly, giving you more free time to do other things.

  • More tailored. You are an expert when it comes to your child so you can tailor how, where, when and what they are learning.

  • Flexibility. You can fit your timetable around your family’s lifestyle and schedules. You can also look at flexi-schooling where a child goes to school part time and is home educated the rest of the week.

  • Increased family time. Home schooling means lots of family time at home!

  • A close knit community. The homeschooling community in the UK is welcoming and a great resource for support and advice.

  • No compulsory exams. A positive for children who find tests and exams very stressful. Learning can take place anywhere. At the zoo, on holiday, in the park – lessons can be held wherever makes sense for you!

Disadvantages of homeschooling UK

Of course, with all things, there are some disadvantages which you must consider before making the commitment to remove your children from the school system.

  • Home schooling cost. You’re responsible for paying for all resources, trips, exams, tutors etc. You need to factor this into your considerations.

  • Isolation. Homeschooling can be isolating for both yourself and your child. Think about how you will provide a social network for your child and how you will seek support for yourself. You could send your child to extracurricular activities out of ‘normal’ school hours so that they can make friends and build their social skills.

  • Dependence. Your child can become dependent on having someone with them all the time to help with work. Make sure you put in place steps to help them become independent and give you some ‘me time’ too!

  • Skill gaps. It can be challenging to cover the breadth of skills and knowledge you would like your child to know by yourself. Parents have told me stories of staying up into the earlier hours learning content to teach their children the next day. To counter this, expert tutors can help support your family and you can work with other homeschooling parents to teach different subjects.

  • Homeschooling fatigue. It can be tiring coming up with new and exciting ways to engage your child in home schooling. Make sure you mix up your routine to keep things interesting for both you and your child.

Top home schooling tips

Find some more homeschooling help for parents with these tips from our Head of Curriculum…

  • Firstly, speak to parents who already home-educate. You will get a sense of what it’s like and how different families approach it. They will be able to give a real-life, down to earth opinion on the prospect of homeschooling to help you decide if it’s right for you.

  • Do your online research before making any changes. Seek advice from charities like Education Otherwise who support families with learning outside of the education system. They have a helpline number where you can access advice and lots of information on their websites.

  • Make sure you speak to your local council to find out what your Local Authority offers families who are educating children at home.

  • Really consider how you are going to teach your child. You’re not required to follow the National Curriculum but if you want your child to take qualifications or return to school at a later date or new school year, you need to think about what they should know. Many families attend Explore Learning to top up the work they are covering at home. Tuition centres allow children to socialise with others and experience a structured learning environment in small chunks.

Whether you’re exploring educating from home options or are already homeschooling your child, we’re here to offer a helping hand. We’re now offering online tutoring to reinforce their learning. For more information on how we can support you get in touch.

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