If you’ve decided that homeschooling is the best fit for you and your child, it is surprisingly easy to develop a plan of action and follow through.
Homeschooling is a legal right in the UK and in fact, it is implicitly recognised in England and Wales under Section 7 of the Education Act of 1996, which requires parents to provide full-time education for their children, which does not need to take place at a traditional school. To begin homeschooling your child, you may wish to follow these important steps:
1. Formally deregister your child if they are in school or if they have been allocated a place at school. Simply write a letter to the Head Teacher expressing your intention to educate your child at home; the school will then have the duty to deregister your child. In England and Wales; no permission is required to home-school your child. The case is the same in Northern Ireland.
* If you are in Scotland: You will need the local authority’s consent, though the latter cannot be unreasonably withheld.
* When is permission necessary in England, Wales and Northern Ireland? You will need permission from the local authorities if your child is in a special school, or if a Supervision Attendance Order or Education Supervision Order is in effect.
2. Be prepared for a possible meeting with the Local Education Authority (LEA): The LEA has no duty to supervise your child’s education and indeed, the Education Act of 1996 requires an LEA in England or Wales to act only if something comes to its attention that leads them to suspect that parents have violated section 7. Nor do LEAs have a right to visit you and your child at home; if they ask you to demonstrate that you are providing a suitable education, you can organise to meet them at another venue. In Northern Ireland, no laws exist regarding an LEA’s right to make enquiries though it can be assumed that similar guidelines apply since the relevant statutes are so similar. It should be noted that hardly any cases have been recorded where LEAs have resorted to legal action to force a home-schooled child to attend school. If an over-zealous LEA is causing concern, you will find support from the homeschooling community as well as handy legal advice from experts in the field.
3. Be confident and start teaching!: If your children have attended schools all their lives, you may find it difficult at first to determine what they should be learning and for how long. No set number of hours of daily study has been determined by the law for homeschooling, but most home education parents will tell you that learning takes place non-stop, all day! You are not required to follow predetermined course work either; the idea is to provide a tailored education for your child. If necessary, you can always opt to supplement home teaching with one to one online tutoring from professional tutors, or follow a correspondence course offered by organisations such as the National Extension College. There are various useful online kids resources as well. Finally, networking with other home education parents is key to discovering helpful learning material and online resources; attendance of the HESFES (Home Educators’ Summer Festival) is a must for all keen home educators; the knowledge and sense of community that abounds is electric!
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