The Tutor Website explores some of the reasons behind the rise in home education in the UK
An exam-focused culture and waiting for the best school places are among the reasons given for a rise in home education in the UK. Earlier this month, worldwide tutoring organisation Tutor’s International reported an increase in the number of students being home educated rather than taught in classrooms.
Adam Caller, founder and CEO of the organisation, said that more parents are using their tutoring services because homeschooling offers an alternative, better education than the best private schools.
According to Mr. Caller, one of the reasons for the rise in home education is the frustration felt by students and their parents at long school commutes. The organisation reports that it’s not only countryside-dwellers that are experiencing long journeys, but in some cases, cross-London school commutes are taking more than an hour on public transport.
In a recent interview published on The Tutor Website, Wesley Sanders, founder of Athena Tuition said that he has noticed an increase in demand for students to be homeschooled by private tutors. He said:
‘We’ve personally seen an increase in the demand for homeschooling as a viable choice for parents, which is a very interesting development. It appears that parents who have enough money to afford private schools are reacting against the exam focused culture in our education system. Rightly, I think they want the education system to be about the pursuit of knowledge and the individual growth of the student.
More broadly, the rise seems to be due to parents’ growing desires to properly cater for special education needs, or their child’s particular learning style.’
The Figures Behind the Rise in Home Education
In 2013, a Channel 4 News report revealed that the number of children being schooled at home had risen by more than 60% in the previous five years. More than 80% of education authorities reported hikes in the number of children being educated at home, according to the Freedom of Information probe.
In one area in England, the increase was as big as 800%; with campaigners citing bullying, special needs provision and too many school tests as reasons for the national hike.
More recently, a 2014 survey carried out by UK home education consultancy Ed Yourself; found that local authorities in England recorded 27,292 home educated children in July of that year. In July 2013, this figure was 23,243, meaning over the course of that year, home education seen a rise of 17%.
Although without statistical evidence, figures elsewhere suggest that as many as 50,000 – 80,000 school children are home educated in the UK and figures are rising by as much as 80% per year. Although the latter figures may be unsubstantiated, there’s no denying that UK education appears to be making a shift from classroom teaching to homeschooling.
Fiona Nicholson, founder of Ed Yourself, said: ‘Parents home educate while they are waiting for the school of their choice, or because children have been bullied. Families also find that they can't get a school place once their son or daughter reaches GCSE years; schools don't want to take new pupils who will not have started the same syllabus and might pull school exam scores down. For some families, home education is intended as a stop-gap but becomes a long term solution.’
The Legalities of Home Education
Under Section 7 of the 1996 education act, parents are responsible for ensuring that their children receive an education suitable to their age ability. According to the Law and Parents website, the following home education rules apply in England and Wales:
- You do not need the permission of an LEA to home educate a child (unless the child attends a special needs school)
- You do not have to hold any particular qualifications to home educate your child
- There are no predetermined hours or times that you must tutor your child at home
- You do not have to conform to the National Curriculum
- You can home educate a child with special needs
- Home educated children are not required to undertake examinations or SATs
Interestingly, in January of this year, Westminster local authority announced that they wanted to visit families who are educating their children at home once a year. The council said their intentions were ‘to look after the welfare of children for seeking to ensure that they receive the highest standard of education possible’. However, these plans were met with resistance from parents who say that the authority has no jurisdiction to undertake such visits.
According to the UK government website, local councils can make an ‘informal enquiry’ in homes where parents are home educating their children to ensure that they’re receiving an appropriate education. If the council thinks that children aren’t receiving the education they should be, they can serve a school attendance order.
Given the current private tuition boom and technology’s ever-increasing role in children’s learning, is this rise in home education a sign of things to come in the UK?
Image credit: Marco Nedermeijer - https://www.flickr.com/photos/mnedermeijer/3952569119/