Home Education in the UK – A Useful Guide For Other Countries
Education is no longer considered a privilege. In most jurisdictions, ‘education’ is considered as an indispensable part of a child’s rights.
In the UK, education has always commanded a high priority in the society. The government, in turn, has always adopted a liberal education policy, as highlighted from the laws of the land. That’s why the concept of Home Education (HE) has always been an integral part of society in the UK.
Why Home Education?
Due to a multicultural and plural society as prevalent in the UK, the reasons for parents to opt for Home Education may vary. Some of the common factors influencing parents’ decisions regarding the educational needs of their children include:
– Religious, philosophical, or spiritual compulsions
– Unsatisfactory school system
– Lack of suitable schools in the locality
– To meet the specific and/or special needs of some children, like those suffering from diseases such as Cerebral Palsy, autism etc.
– Failure of child and school management to effectively tackle certain conditions in school, like bullying, corporal punishment etc.
– Financial reasons etc.
Recently, the Parental Responsibility has emerged as one of the major reasons for Home-Educating children in the UK. More and more parents are trying to learn the art of true parenthood and are relishing the additional responsibility of being (actually) responsible for the growth of the thought process in the child.
Whatever may be the compelling circumstances, Home Education is here to stay, and is being increasingly preferred in the UK. An estimated 100,000 children between the ages of 5 and 16 are being given Home Education by their parents in the United Kingdom, and the figure is likely to increase in the coming years.
Benefits of Home Education
Home Education (tutorial-based teaching) has several advantages over classroom education (instructions-based teaching). Some of these include:
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1. The child tends to receive individualistic and far more attention at home than at school.
2. Comfortable home environment in the company of parents gives the child an ideal environment to learn.
3. The absence of awe-inspiring teachers means quick feedback from the child to assess his/her learning capabilities.
4. The Child can learn at their own pace, and follow their own curriculum and interests.
5. Enhanced self-motivation and self-discipline in the child.
6. Instilment of parental values instead of peer values in the child.
7. Cultivation of courage to arrive at independent decisions.
8. Avoid destructive competition in search of better grades from the peers and fellow students.
9. Special children need special attention that can only be provided under home conditions.
10. Above all, as a parental responsibility of teaching your child, nothing is more beneficial and satisfactory than to take complete responsibility of your child’s education.
Shortcomings of Home Education
One must also consider some disadvantages of Home Education before deciding the academic future of the child. Some of these include:
1. Non-development of social skills due to the absence of interaction with peers and teachers.
2. Special expertise and skills required to teach may be lacking in the parents. Moreover, they might not be abreast of the latest technologies and teaching aids that might help the child learn better.
3. Even both the parents combined may not know all the subjects required for the proper education of the child.
4. Parents may ultimately spend a considerable amount of time equipping themselves with the skills to teach their child; thus, losing out on the chance to supplement the family income.
5. Laboratories, gyms, and other facilities provided by school authorities may not be accessible from home.
6. A child’s progress will not be adequately monitored, especially as they do not have to follow the National Curriculum or take SATs.
Home Education in UK – Legal Aspect
The UK is divided into different legal jurisdictions. For instance, there are different sets of laws applicable in England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. However, substantially, all these jurisdictions follow similar legal principles and postulates, with minor variations.
Home Education has legal sanction in all three regions in the UK. Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 (England and Wales), Sections 30 of Education (Scotland) Act 1980, and Article 45 of Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 1986, are the relevant legal provisions that provide the requisite teeth to the concept of Home Education in the UK.
Here is the summary of these legalities as applicable in the UK:
Only ‘education’ is compulsory under UK laws and not ‘schooling.’
No qualification is prescribed for the parents desirous of giving Home Education to their child.
Parents are at absolute liberty to decide how they want their child to be educated at home.
No compulsion of following the National Curriculum or observing school hours.
Parents must ensure that their child receives an efficient full time education, suitable to his/her age, ability and aptitude, and to any special educational needs the child may have.
Parents are not legally obligated to inform the Local Education Authority (LEA) when they decide to educate their children at home. If the child has never been registered at a State school, or if you move to an area served by another LEA, you are not obliged to notify the LEA, although you may do so if you wish. If you are taking your child out of a state school in England or Wales, the head teacher must remove the child’s name from the register and inform the LEA. If your child has special needs and attends a special school, you need permission to deregister.
However, if you are withdrawing your child from a State school in Scotland, the LEA must be informed.
No special Government grants are available for Home Education in UK.
No formal tests are required to pass by the child. However, the LEA may ask for information informally at intervals to monitor your child’s progress.
There is no prohibition on the Home Education of a statemented child provided he/she is not attending a special school, in which case you need the consent of the LEA.
Home-Educated children can take GCSEs as private candidates or as students of correspondence courses. However, it is not compulsory to take GCSEs.
To address the concern for social deprivation of Home-Educated children, in many areas, home educators meet regularly for social, educational, and other activities. Children also attend clubs, classes, sporting and leisure activities in the community. Children get to interact with people of all ages as well as their peers.