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While there are no exact figures, it is estimated that there are around 75,000 home-schooled children in the UK and this figure is increasing every year. One of the reasons why the figures are estimated is because children who never start school are not likely to be reflected in the statistics.
Even more surprising, is that although taking children out of school for holidays is illegal, despite having an otherwise good attendance, and despite the possible educational content that travel allows, it is perfectly legal to remove your child from school and teach them at home, without any teaching qualifications and without any requirement to follow the National Curriculum. Bizarre.
Parents who home-school have given a variety of surprising reasons which include lifestyle (no stressful routine), parents who chose to travel with their children, bully-free territory, special needs, overall dissatisfaction with the local education authority, disagreement with a local school, being fed up with tests and target setting, cultural or religious reasons, medical justifications, a difference of philosophy and lifestyle or a conflict at the school. Finally, a small number of parents home-school because they could not get their child into a preferred school. In areas with grammar schools, the figures are slightly higher.
As it turns out, the law here in the UK actually makes it much easier for parents to opt for homeschooling than in many other countries around the globe. Since homeschooling in Germany is illegal, families who want to home-school have to leave the country. Many have no option but to cross the border from Germany into France or Switzerland if they want to educate their children at home.
In the UK the government says it will continue to "respect the rights of parents to home educate their children." There is no legal responsibility for parents to send their children to school, however, they do have to provide and maintain a "suitable education" at home. By the way, It's interesting to note that parents do not have to give a reason for removing a child from school.
Before any decision is taken to home-school it is imperative to weigh up the considerations for and against.Positives of home-schooling
The child can work at their own pace.
More time for relaxation.
Home-schooling can be tailored to the child's needs.
More time to follow specific interests e.g science, reading, art, biology.
The flexibility (and less expense!) of annual holidays.
Lack of peer pressure and bullying which might otherwise be experienced at school.
Negatives of home-schooling
The expense. One parent will need to leave their full-time employment.
It might be necessary to employ a tutor to 'top-up' other work and ensure some parity with the National Curriculum.
Friends and relatives might voice their disapproval.
Lack of friends. The child may feel isolated unless they belong to clubs or sporting classes.
No time to yourself. Homeschooling is a full-time job and once the school day at home has ended, you are not likely to be off duty.
Applying for further education may be a problem if the child has not taken A-levels and don't have head teachers or careers officers to provide references.
You can educate your child at home but you must notify the school in writing if you're taking your child out of school. For further information please see the government website.
Daniel and Isa left Germany to home-school in France. Read on...
Dr Helen Lees, of Newman University Birmingham, has written extensively about alternative education. She believes some parents do not like the structured assessment and testing in schools. Dr Lees says parents find online accounts of the success of home education and are saying: "If they can do it why can't we do it. They're hearing from groups on facebook that it's working well, the children are happy." Find out more here...
BBC Bitesize is a great recourse for parents and children studying for GCSEs.