Home Schooling in the UK

If you are considering a move to home schooling from mainstream education, or if you need support with your child’s home schooling during coronavirus, we can help. Our Education Consultants would be delighted to discuss your child’s particular circumstances with you and suggest the best course of action. Contact us here.

At Simply Learning Tuition, we have over 10 years of experience in home schooling students from age 4 to 18, for 1 month to 5 years, in person, online and overseas, depending on their particular needs. When families home school with Simply Learning Tuition, they receive expert guidance and support, including timetabling, reporting and exam registrations. Typically, approximately 0.6% of children are home educated. This means that up to 80, 000 children in the UK do not attend school and are taught either by their parents or private tutors. Reasons for homeschooling children vary, from a short term necessity, to the school or classroom environment not being suitable for a child’s individual needs and circumstances.

If you’re considering home schooling your child, we hope the below guidance helps.

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What is Home Schooling?

Modern home schooling began in the 1970s as reformers began championing more progressive forms of education. Religious parents were dissatisfied with secularist teaching adopted by most public schools and wanted to create an eclectic curriculum that incorporated their own beliefs, more creativity and life skills.

Since then, a number of studies have tried to find a correlation between test scores, teaching standards, and home and public education. Studies have produced very interesting results but have yet to prove that either is more beneficial. Of course, all children learn differently and can potentially benefit from any form of education.

In 1998 Dr. Lawrence Rudner conducted a study, The Achievement and Demographics of Home School Students, which produced some of the most convincing arguments for home teaching. Dr. Rudner does not advocate either form of education, yet his research did seem to suggest that privileged children from home schools generally perform better than students of an equivalent background at public and private schools. He did also say that one should not draw conclusions based on his research alone as he was only studying a limited number of variables.

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How does Home Schooling work?

Proponents of home schooling often quote research that suggests that home schooled children tend to become more successful in life (if one considers income as representative of success). One study also showed that adults who were home schooled are more content with their lives and see the world in a more positively. Doctors in the USA – where home schooling is a lot more common than in the UK – recommend that parents make special arrangements to involve their children in social activities outside of the home. A lack of socialisation can inhibit the development of certain emotional and social skills, so we always advise parents to include even small group activities in their child’s timetable when possible, for example a sport or art club.

 

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Do I need any qualifications to Home School my child?

Parents who educate their children at home are not required to hold any formal qualifications; however, parents with a lack of qualifications will inevitably struggle to teach subjects they are not familiar with. Whether you need to engage private tutors to help home school your child depends on your time and your child’s age. By engaging an experienced home schooling tutor who is represented by a reputable agency, you can ensure that your child’s attainment, meets or even excels what is expected within a school setting.

 

What qualifications should I look for in a Home School tutor?

Section 7 of the Education Act states clearly that home school teachers are not required to hold any particular qualifications (or any at all), but that a child’s education must be relevant to their “age, ability and aptitude.” If parents do not have the necessary qualifications or time to teach a subject themselves then they should consider hiring a private tutor. It is a good idea to first check what experience and qualifications a private tutor has before hiring them. You can read about what to look for in a private tutor here. Tutors with no experience or relevant qualifications may not have the ability to develop a well-rounded syllabus and confidently teach a subject. Below is a list of a few qualifications and a small explanation of what they are.

Read Section 7 of the Education Act

PGCEPostgraduate Certificate in Higher Education degrees are internationally recognised teaching qualifications that develops highly capable teachers. PGCE students are required to spend a number of months in a school to give them unrivalled experience. All PGCE graduates hold FQTS (Fully Qualified Teacher Status).
MAMaster of Arts qualifications are postgraduate degrees. They allow students to focus on a more specific topic of interest. Ma teaching degrees do exist but do not necessarily make someone a fantastic teacher. Many with Ma teaching degrees research teaching methods and do not actively teach themselves. A tutor with an Ma in a specific subject and a significant amount of teaching experience will be a good choice for a tutor.
BABachelor of Arts degrees are undergraduate degrees and are the most common type awarded in the UK. Ba teaching qualifications differ from the BEd (Bachelor of Education) in that that it features a single subject bias. The BEd is a more general teaching qualification. The Ba is often compared to the PGCE and is generally geared towards secondary school teaching. Both PGCE and Ba courses usually focus on a particular level of education. This resource on the government website explains the different levels of education the National Curriculum.
TEFL*Teaching English as a Foreign Language. A lot of tutors will list a TEFL as one of their qualifications. Many teachers gain experience by completing TEFL courses, which are largely conducted overseas. Tutors with TEFL qualifications, whatever level they may be, will have been required to complete a certain amount of teaching. Quite often this includes teaching in third world countries and in dangerous situations.

*It is worth enquiring about the tutors experience with the TEFL before employing them as it will provide an insight into their whole attitude towards teaching. TEFL is internationally recognised and highly regarded, but anyone can apply to the TEFL course – even those without a significant amount of academic qualifications.

How much does Home Schooling cost?

The Department of Education makes it clear that parents who choose to educate their children at home are financially responsible for their education. The first thing that needs to be considered is the cost of things like stationery, books and tutoring. Textbooks are relatively expensive compared to other non-fiction books as they are produced by university presses that usually charge a premium to private buyers.

Buying a good computer and investing in a stable internet connection will benefit students significantly.  This opens up access to a host of excellent teaching resources on the internet, online tutors if required and helps teach independent learning skills. Independent learning is an essential skill for students who plan to study at A-level and higher. Below is a list of things that need to be accounted for when considering the full costs of home schooling.

Textbook costsIncome lost from unemployment
Stationery costs (pens, pencils, paper, exercise books, mathematics equipment)Supplementary classroom equipment (projector, television, smartboard, whiteboard)
Tutoring prices per hour (and supplementary tutor services, such as marking)Extra-curricular activities (sports, visits to museums) and travel costs
ComputersSoftware costs (word processors, spreadsheet software)
Exam entry feesExam centre fees
Exam board registration fees The Home School Curriculum

How much does it cost to hire a Home School tutor?

Whether a tutor is an expensive option or not depends largely on a parent’s financial situation. Creating a spreadsheet with projected costs and predicted lost income will help create a picture of the net loss/gain from educating a child at home.

Tutors prices generally range from £40 per hour to £100 per hour, but this figure differs depending on the location and the tutor. You can view the costs of home schooling with Simply Learning Tuition here.

Home Schooling statistics

It has been commonly reported that home schooling is on the rise in the UK, with latest number estimating that roughly 80,000 were home schooled at some point in 2018, with many of these not registered with their local authorities. This means the number of children who are known by councils to be home educated was 27% higher in 2018 than in 2017.

Interestingly, a recent report published in July 2019, claims that the most consistent number for home schooling in the UK hovers between 50,000 to 60,000, and represents over 0.5% of the relevant age group. The majority of home schooling takes place in the South West, with 0.4% taking place in Inner London and 0.4% in Outer London.

The Benefits of Home Schooling

There are many different reasons to consider home schooling. Home schooling allows the focus to entirely be on your child and their education, meaning that you can concentrate on what they find harder and where they need more support. It also allows the teaching methods to be adapted to the way they learn best, which is especially important if your child has a special educational need.

The benefits of home schooling are particularly clear for children who aren’t flourishing in a school environment. This may be due to a range of reasons, such as social or emotional difficulties that aren’t being supported. For children who are particularly talented at sports or music, home schooling also allows them the ability to focus on these competitively, while still completing their education, whether this is at home or whilst travelling.

The Disadvantages of Home Schooling

While there are many benefits of home schooling, there are also disadvantages that need to be considered. The first is the lack of socialisation with other children their age, which needs to be accounted for through other activities. Children can also miss out on the benefits of being in mainstream education, such as school trips with peers and the wide range of resources schools have access to such as science labs and sports equipment.

Home schooling is a huge investment, in time and money. Along with this, you have to consider who will be home schooling your child. While there are no laws that state that children who are home schooled have to be taught by qualified teachers, it is important that whoever teaches your child, be that yourself or a tutor, is qualified in the subject they’re teaching.

Home Schooling GCSE’s

It’s entirely possible to home school your child through their GCSE’s, although there some things you need to check first. One of the most important is that there is an exam centre where your child can take their final exams. Many private exam centres cater for private candidates and most exam boards carry lists of private centres which cater for the board on their website.

Something you also have to consider is the exam board your child is sitting for. Many UK exam boards require coursework, which isn’t possible through home schooling as it can’t be moderated. A great alternative is the IGCSE qualification, which don’t tend to have a coursework aspect. If your child is moving to home schooling after Year 10, and finishing in Year 11 this is something that has to be seriously considered, as they may have been working on a board, that they now can’t continue with.

Home Schooling A-Levels

As with GCSE’s, two of the most important considerations are the exam centre and the exam board. There are international A-levels which don’t require coursework for usually coursework heavy subjects such as English Literature, but exam centres that offer these exams are few and far between. They are also harder to move to, if the student is being home schooled from Year 13, as there is less of an overlap with other exam boards. Practical subjects are also challenging when it comes to home schooling, and A-levels such as Drama or Design may not be possible.

A-Levels are also more difficult to home school as they require a higher level of expertise from the teacher, which makes it harder to home school your child personally. This is where a private tutor can be essential because they are experts in their fields. They can also help with UCAS university applications, supporting with personal statements and references. UCAS is able to facilitate individual applications to University, and so being home schooled won’t affect whether your child can go onto higher education.

Home Schooling Resources

There are many home schooling websites that have various resources to support your child. There are also exam past papers for GCSE’s and A-Levels on exam board websites, but do be aware that they only publish them for current specifications, so for any of the new syllabuses, there will not be a significant back catalogue to use.

Private tutors also have a huge amount of resources that they have collated through experience and past students. Many tutors also create their own resources, similar to teachers in schools, that are based around your child and their way of learning. The national curriculum is available on the government website for guidance of where your child should be if they were in school, and so can be used for further guidance.

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The Home School Curriculum

Many parents decide to use the National Curriculum as a framework for developing their own, however it is important to bear in mind that independent schools and associated entrance examinations expect students to work well beyond this. The National Curriculum, details of which can be found below, features levels in which certain subjects are mandatory. The more a child progresses through the school levels, the more focused their learning becomes.  Developing a curriculum around this is recommended because there is an abundance of resources available influenced directly by the National Curriculum. BBC Bitesize is one such website that features an array of resources designed by universities to follow the syllabuses set by the exam boards and is completely free to use.

View The National Curriculum Visit BBC Bitesize

Developing a Tailor Made Curriculum for your Child

Designing a unique curriculum is possible, and many parents decide to completely ignore the national curriculum in favour of a more, academic, vocational or practical education. Mathematics and English should be taught as part of every curriculum and at every age level. All Universities and employers expect a certain level of mathematics and English (typically to GCSE). There is a reason why young children are taught a wide range of subjects: peoples interests change as they grow older. A well-rounded curriculum that is designed to teach the basics of every subject and allows students to decide their future is therefore the most effective. To force a GCSE student to study art and design when they want to become a science teacher is probably a waste of time and resources. Allowing children to pursue their interests will also help them develop a thirst for education. This is possibly one reason why home schooled children are often more accomplished in academic tests: they are given greater freedom to study subjects they enjoy.

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Science and Mathematics

While some see science as a subject with no practical value in the real world, science actually helps develop awareness, critical thinking skills and enhances mathematical skills. Subjects like biology help children gauge their place in the world and help them to develop healthy interests in nature. These interests can then be developed even further in English classes.

Science is a compulsory subject up to GCSE, although home schooled students should ideally mimic their schooled peers, and study a science qualification at GCSE. This might be needed for University entrance, or incase the decision is made to study a Science at A-Level Almost every industry recognises the importance of holding science qualifications, and the practical application of science knowledge is often overlooked. However, science teaching should become more focused as students get older. By focusing on one science subject, or a group of core topics (which may overlap the sciences), a syllabus can be developed that focuses on topics of interest and relevance.

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Other Subjects

Not all subjects are deemed necessary for all levels. Design technology and physical education are subjects that can be taught as an extra-curricular activity, and priority should be place on core subjects that demand the greatest resources. This does not mean that you should neglect these subjects, but there are more imaginative ways to teach these subjects without draining resources from other areas. History and Geography are subjects that can open the doors to a wide variety of future qualifications. Both have significant importance to certain fields, such as politics and environmental science. These are academic subjects and can be taught in conjunction with other subjects, such as English and Science respectively. The main lesson to learn when developing a curriculum is to keep it well-rounded and adaptable. Developing a foundation in all subjects allows children to decide their own pathway and makes it easier for them to find their interests that might one day develop into further study or a career.

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Entering Exams as a Private Candidate

Every year, Simply Learning Tuition support home schooled students with their GCSE and A-Level examination registrations, and preparation for these examinations with expert home schooling private tutors. Home schooled children need to be entered as private candidates for their national examinations, and these always take place in an accredited examination centre. Fees vary, but all exams centres charge something for invigilation and administration costs, plus exam board fees. Please note that not all schools accept private candidates.