Homeschooling in the UK
After our family’s story of home education and full-time travel went viral in the news, it became apparent that myths abound about home education and homeschooling requirements, and that facts about UK homeschooling are somewhat hidden.
I recently wrote a post packed with 100+ brilliant homeschooling resources as well as a detailed post answering the top 10 most frequently asked questions about homeschooling, so if you are just starting out with research about home education (or want to know what people will ask you if you homeschool your kids), take a look! There’s also our complete collection of homeschooling blog posts here.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, instead of the nail-biting wait that parents have to endure to find out if they’ve got the much-wanted school place for their child or ‘might have to homeschool’, there would be a relaxed and happy time of exploring educational options, with parents confident in the knowledge that home education is a joyful and rich path to follow, and not a second-rate last resort?
I think it would be great if home education was openly discussed as an option with families with as much enthusiasm and information as applying for school places, so I thought I would write a post busting the most common myths about home education.
UK Homeschooling Facts & Requirements
No National Curriculum! We do not have to, legally or otherwise, stick to the schools’ National Curriculum or even follow a homeschooling UK curriculum. People are often horrified at this, but did you know that private schools and free schools don’t either?
Not having a set homeschooling UK curriculum means that we can tailor and personalise each child’s experiences according to them as individuals. It also means it is very doable to home educate children of multiple ages. Our method of home education is called unschooling, and I have a post explaining “What is unschooling?”
If you would like to discover more about different types of homeschooling and the best homeschooling programs (and how to pick one), check out The 6 Types of Homeschool Curriculum.
It’s 24/7: That doesn’t mean that we sit at desks day and night. It means that learning happens everywhere, all the time, so we don’t need to split our days into ‘learning time’ and ‘leisure time’. Learning and fun go hand in hand; kids learn best when they are enjoying themselves. Discover more about our educational philosophy in our post “What is Unschooling?” and this post about everything our children learned in one unschooling day.
No Fines: No, we don’t get fined for taking our kids away in term time. In fact, we took our kids backpacking around Asia for a year (see the travel section of this blog for stories about that!) We aren’t using the services of a council’s school system so we don’t fall under the terms and conditions as the parents of schoolchildren do.
No qualifications: No, this isn’t the fate of our children (although many qualifications are outdated and unnecessary, but that’s a post for another time). You do NOT need any qualifications or approval to home educate your children (unless they are enrolled in a social school for children with extra needs in which case you will need permission to deregister).
You don’t need teacher training, not even a GCSE necessarily. The Open University, interestingly, requires no qualifications in order to take a degree course- simply that you are able to- an indication that they recognise that qualifications are not an indication of ability. If you need more encouragement in this area, read my post about why you don’t need qualifications to home educate your child in the UK.
Plenty of other Universities, including some of the best in the world, have accept homeschooled children in with no prior qualifications. What you do need in order to homeschool is a deep love and commitment to your child’s wellbeing, and the determination to seek out community, help and resources when you and they need them. These 10 free things are all you need to homeschool your child.
To understand more how children can learn without a curriculum or qualified teacher I highly recommend John Holt’s book ‘How Children Learn’, which provides excellent insight into- surprisingly- how children learn and how homeschooling can be the best educational choice for many.
It saves YOU money, taxpayer!: The taxpayer cost of primary school for one child is now around £5000 per year. Assuming the usual seven years of primary education that is standard for most children we are saving ‘the taxpayer’ (anyone ever met this guy?) £35,000 per child, or £115,000 for all three of our children in total. I wonder if I can get that back in airmiles?
Home education is like private school in that the families fund it themselves. There is no homeschooling UK funding such as grants or scholarships for individual families (although I might start my own Making Great Cups of Tea for Mum Scholarship).
If you would like more information on homeschooling finances, check out my post on “How much homeschooling costs”, as well as “Can you homeschool while working full time?” and “Can you homeschool while on benefits‘?
6. It’s cheap! The homeschooling UK cost doesn’t have to be much at all. There is no homeschooling UK funding for families but the big expensive packs of curriculum books aren’t necessary at all.
If you’re creative and committed you can find the fun and educational opportunities in anything. We are home educating and we travelled for a year on a shoestring budget! There are plenty of websites, apps and libraries where you can find all kinds of cool resources for cheap or free to keep the cost of homeschooling low- I listed them in my UK homeschooling resources post.
There are also educational discounts available for places like the National Trust, so you can have budget-friendly days out to boot.