Do You Need Qualifications To Homeschool in the UK?
One of the concerns that prospective homeschooling parents often have is that of their own ability to homeschool their child, and they wonder what qualifications you need to homeschool in the UK. If the subject of homeschooling arises in conversation with a new acquaintance (as it often does when they ask which school my kids attend) one of the first questions I get asked is, “Are you a qualified teacher?”
It is a common misconception that you need to be a qualified teacher in order to homeschool, or that you need special training or certification in order to do it. If nothing else, people think that they need to be someone who did well academically at school in order to provide an adequate homeschooling environment for their child. These are all false assumptions.
“What Qualifications Do You Need To Homeschool in the UK?”
In the UK there is absolutely no requirement for parents to have passed any kind of exam or to have obtained any kind of qualification in order to homeschool. It is also not necessary to be academic yourself if you want to homeschool your child, and although this may seem strange I will explain why this is a completely appropriate law.
“Why don’t you need to be a qualified teacher in order to homeschool?”
In short, you don’t need to be a teacher to homeschool because teaching in a classroom and homeschooling your own child or children are two completely different roles. Teaching in a classroom involves classroom and resources management; behaviour management of 30-plus children; lesson planning according to the National Curriculum; objectives setting; marking work; following correct safeguarding procedures; doing risk assessments; corresponding with parents and other teachers and headteachers; supervising tens of children in a playground; preparing reports and ensuring that the National Curriculum is being delivered to the 30-odd children in a way that enables them to pass the government-set exams.
Homeschooling parents do not need to do any of this. They need to facilitate an environment in which their child has every opportunity to be healthy, happy and can learn according to their own needs, abilities and interests. As a parent we do this from the moment our children our born and there is absolutely no reason why this changes when a child reaches four or five years old. Simply put, homeschooling parents do not (and should not) take on the role of a classroom teacher; it would be unnecessary and inappropriate as school education and home education are not the same thing.
Some parents I have met seem to think that school teachers have a vastly greater knowledge base than most adults- I don’t know where this assumption comes from but teachers do not memorise the curriculum, they only need to understand it enough to communicate it to their class. If a homeschooling parent wishes to cover a certain topic, the same process is undertaken- the parent learns about it enough to understand and explain it to their child, or finds an alternative resource through which the child can learn said topic.
“Surely only academic people can homeschool their children?”
Absolutely not. Firstly, not everyone is capable of what would generally be considered ‘academic success’, and even fewer are both capable and willing to put in the work to obtain it. We do not need a world full of academics; we need a world full of people who have been supported and encouraged to both practise self-care and to move towards their potential- whether their strength is in academia, or practical work, or problem solving, or emotional intelligence, or something else. It is a travesty that the current school system aims for academic ‘success’ (high grades) for every child at the expense of their actual strengths and passions and as a society we are surely missing out because of it.
Secondly, as I said above, parents only need to be able to help their child access learning resources- they do not have to be the primary learning resource. Clubs, classes, books, online tutorials, tutors, online lessons and courses and co-ops are all resources that homeschooling parents can utilise if they themselves cannot lead their child in a certain area of learning. Parents who are less confident in school are often brilliant outside of it, and this can be a huge advantage to the homeschooled child to see alternative educational paths.
Interestingly, of the highest earning people I know more than half did not ‘do well’ at school. This 60%-ish left school as soon as possible and started working, learning in the real world as they went (off the top of my head one is a multi-millionaire with his own maintenance company, one is a blogger, one is a fire fighter and has other trades, two work in insurance, one is a private jet broker). Obviously this works excellently for some professions and less well for others (the 40% of the highest earners I know are lawyers and medical doctors and are traditionally intelligent people). I don’t know if this indicates anything in particular but what it does do is highlight that grades are certainly not everything and that parents’ ability to home educate their children is not able to be judged on how well they did at school.
“But what if homeschooled children want to go to University?”
There is no reason why homeschooled children cannot take the same exams as anyone else who wishes to go to University. Either parents can provide the learning experience for the child to take, say, GCSEs and A-levels (to cite one route) or can utilise the resources I mentioned above: co-ops, tutors, online courses, college and so on. Homeschooled children may choose to take formal exams earlier than their schooled peers, or at the same time, or later, or not at all- it depends on each child and their circumstances, but home education is in no way a barrier to further education or an academic career. I have written more about homeschooling GCSEs and A Levels here.
I hope this clears up so queries as to what qualifications parents need to homeschool their child- it is often a point of confusion and I like to encourage parents who did not do well at school, that this in no way indicates what will happen with their child’s education- indeed, if they had been homeschooled, perhaps things would have been different. Check out the rest of our homeschooling blog posts for more info, tips, resources and advice on homeschooling in the UK!