It’s a difficult and anxious time of year for parents wanting to secure school places for their children. One report says that the selection process has become increasingly complex as places in popular areas are over-subscribed.

Another article suggests that because of this, children from poorer areas can often be the ones who miss out as it is those families more likely to lose in a scramble for places at a school that’s rated Good or Outstanding.

It becomes a vicious circle as schools that have a high proportion of children from challenging backgrounds are statistically unable to meet the criteria for Good whatever their efforts, they therefore attract fewer outstanding teachers, achievement statistics fall even more, and the cycle is perpetuated.

One dedicated head of a small primary school told me that despite the hard work of her staff, whose primary interest was the education and welfare of their children and who went beyond the call of duty to give them a stimulating education even though their resources were stretched, they’d never make the criteria for ‘Outstanding’ as the school had a high proportion of children with special needs. And despite the gallant work of staff to support them statistics would never reflect their progress enough to alter their rating. It does show however that ratings are not always accurate and dedicated staff can make a difference even though the school ratings won’t reflect it.

Another aspect of this problem is that some socially selective schools are more likely to choose the pupils who would enhance their ratings, than those who appear less able to do so, although no one would publically admit to that happening, but this clearly exacerbates the problem.

So this is often the time of year when some parents would look again at the possibility of home educating. And although some may have come to home education unwillingly at first, they have gone on to find the experience so positive and successful that they continued to do so. I have heard of parents who said that they only meant to home school until a place became available at the school of their choice, but decided not to take it up because of the success of home schooling.

Home education is an option available to all parents, not just the well off as is sometimes assumed. Whatever their circumstances and background parents can provide a stimulating and engaging educational experience for their learners using the many free resources available, and by connecting with the home educating community where skills and expertise are swapped and shared as well as social opportunities. Although some who can afford it do use tutoring services others manage in other ways and the biggest cost is not so much to do with the learning as it is to do with managing the potential drop in income to one wage earner.

Information and resources are available online through learning, home education, or tutoring sites, as well as the opportunity to network with others through social media. And as numbers rise, as is constantly reported, so does the community and the opportunities, making home educating a valuable choice as schools become worryingly oversubscribed.


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