When it comes to the education of their children, parents want what is best for them. For some, this means sending them to a traditional school. For others, it means homeschooling. Elective home education (EHE) is growing in popularity- in fact, according to the House of Commons Home Education Report, the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) found that even prior to the pandemic, the number of children registered as home educated in England increased by 15% to 60,544 from 2018 to 2019. Despite rising figures, there's much discussion around the difficulties and potential disadvantages of homeschooling. So what is elective home education? What are the pitfalls? Can you homeschool in the UK? And why are parents increasingly choosing to homeschool their children?
Let's take a closer look and dispel the myths.
Can you homeschool in the UK?
In elective home education (EHE), ‘elective’ means that home educators choose to educate their children at home rather than send them to a state or independent school. So why is it that parents are choosing to take their children's education into their own hands?
There are various reasons why parents may choose to home educate and guidance details that parents may choose home education for several reasons, including but not limited to:
- Ideological or philosophical views
- Religious or cultural beliefs
- Dissatisfaction with the school system, or the school which the child attends
- Bullying of the child at school
- Health reasons, particularly mental health of the child
- A child’s unwillingness or inability to go to school
- Special educational needs, or a perceived lack of suitable provision in the school system for those needs
- As a stop-gap, while waiting for a place at a school
The impact of Covid-19
Naturally, the pandemic has led many to reconsider the way they work and educate (check out our 4 day school week blogpost) and since the temporary closure of mainstream schools inevitably UK homeschooling has spiked.
As of October 2021, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) estimated that there were around 81,200 registered home educated children in England. However, these snapshot estimates fail to capture the high level of variation in the number of registered home educated children within a year. For example, research from the home education charity 'Education Otherwise' found that the number of home educated children known to local authorities was around 78,200 in October 2021.
Setting the pandemic related fluctuation in figures aside, the Home Education Report demonstrates a marked increase in the number of children being home educated in recent years and with this rise comes several related concerns.
Of most significance is the sentiment that the growth in UK homeschooling is partly due to the alternative it provides when children leave school due to dissatisfaction with the schooling system and students needs being unmet.
Myths about homeschooling
Parents aren't qualified to teach
The reality is teaching qualification doesn't make a great teacher. Rather, it's a combination of curiosity, desire to learn and grit/ consistency. In truth, homeschool parents don't need to be expert educators. Scoodle has a wealth of digital resources, lessons and tutors available to search by location, subject and level. Arguably, homeschooled students develop into more independent thinkers as there isn't as much handholding throughout their learning.
Home educated students are not prepared for further education
Homeschooling in many cases is student-led and instils a sense of self-discipline. This is fundamental when it comes to further study and in cases where a teachers explanation fails to hit the mark, homeschoolers are already equipped to grasp the material by themselves. Having said this, where there are gaps in your knowledge Scoodle's tutors are on hand to help you manage the difference between different exam levels.
Homeschoolers are isolated from diversity
Extracurricular activities offer to provide a solution here. Given that the primary purpose of traditional schooling is education, it seems that socialising, making friends and developing soft skills could be done outside of the school environment. The likes of volunteering, debating, music lessons and sports clubs go a long way towards ensuring that students are rarely isolated at home. Additionally, proponents of the traditional approach to education highlight the benefit of diversity and exposure to different world views. This assumption is somewhat flawed because school students who often socialise in cliques and who are grouped based on locality to the school likely wouldn't have particularly diverse in-school experiences.
To conclude, with a growing trend towards working from home, arguably it makes sense that the education sector follows suit. Elective home education is a valid choice for parents who believe that school is not the best environment for their child to thrive. It's no easy feat but what unites those who do choose to homeschool is their desire to provide the opportunity to learn in the way that suits the student best.