What do I need to do to homeschool my children?
The number of children being homeschooled in the UK has doubled in the last four years. It is estimated that across the UK 48,000 children were being home-educated in 2016-17. If you are thinking of removing your child or children from formal education, either full-time or part-time, this handy guide will answer some of the most frequently-asked questions about homeschooling requirements.
Do I have to send my child to school?
From the age of 5, all children in the UK must receive a full-time education, but this education can be provided by parents or private tutors. The English and Welsh education departments’ guidance is that it must be a "suitable education". Look on the government website for up to date guidance.
The English government plans to release new "rights and responsibilities on home education" but currently there isn’t an expected publish date. It is worth noting that councils want more monitoring powers so that could well shape the new guidance.
What qualifications do I need to homeschool?
The simple answer is that you don’t need any. You do not need to be a trained teacher and, in most cases, you don’t need any formal qualifications. This gets more complicated if your child has a statement and attends a special school, so make sure you know exactly where you stand by contacting your Local Authority (LA).
Who do I need to tell that I plan to homeschool?
If your child is of statutory school age (between 5 and 16 years old) and currently enrolled in a school, you must write to the headteacher to tell them you plan to take your child out of the school. The headteacher will then remove them from the school roll. If you wish to homeschool part-time, it is up to the headteacher’s discretion so they might not agree to your request.
If you do decide to homeschool full-time, the school will not keep your child’s place reserved for them. This means should you decide to re-enroll them at a later date, your child may end up in a different class or a different school. This is probably not a deal breaker for most people but it is worth being aware of.
Will I be inspected?
The current guidance varies a little between so make sure you check with your local authority. Most LA’s state that initially you will have a meeting with them, either in person or by submitting a written report of the provision you will provide. This is then followed by an annual self-evaluation form. One of the aims of this is to show the LA that you are providing a suitable education for your child(ren). If you are unable to do this, the LA can get the Education Welfare Officer (EWO) involved. Initially, they will support you to improve your provision, but they do ultimately have the power to order you to re-enrol your child in school.
The new guidance is expected to suggest local authorities will have to annually assess each child receiving elective home education in their area. This will involve assessing the educational development of each child and may include a visit to the child’s home, an interview with the child, seeing the child’s work, and an interview with the child’s parent.
Is there anything in particular I have to teach?
From the age of 5, all children in the UK must receive a full-time education, but it does not have to follow the National Curriculum. One of the main benefits of homeschooling is that you can follow your children’s interests and be lead by them. However, it is expected that your child will develop their knowledge and skills in English, Maths and Science. If you do choose to follow the National Curriculum, or wish to use it as a guide, you can find full details here: https://www.gov.uk/national-curriculum
What do I do if my children are interested in a topic or subject I know nothing about?
Internet searches will give you loads of ideas, resources and information. However if you want something a bit more specialised, PlanBee have loads of prepared planning that is ready-to-use. All our lessons have been made by teachers with oodles of experience and, whilst they are designed for primary classrooms, they are also perfect for homeschooling families. Go through the slideshow for each lesson with your child on a laptop or iPad, then let them loose on whichever of the four given activities most suits their needs or interests. Getting help from outside sources is particularly helpful for those areas you, as parents, feel less confident in teaching but that you want your child to learn about nonetheless.
Get in touch if you’re a homeschooler and we will be happy to share our expert advice and ideas with you.
Where can I go for support?
Homeschool communities tend to be very active, so check out where your local one is or join some homeschooling groups on facebook.
The gov.uk website can give you homeschooling information specific to your local council.