2015 update: I would be delighted to receive Not For Profit suggestions of links that would be beneficial to this page.
Education online in the UK – A Guide
There is a mass of information and support for home educators in the UK now available on the Internet. Some of it is good, some bad and some down right ugly! This article is intended to help you cut through to the information you need to deal with your particular situation. Educational resources are not specifically covered here but many of the sites mentioned have huge sections of ideas and resources. Some of the information is repeated on several sites linked to. Several links are given in case one cannot be accessed for any reason and for those with a healthy need to confirm information with many different sources. Each link will take you directly to the document relevant to that section, not to the site’s home page.
First – Answers to those niggling worries – can it really be true??
Free Range Education
Whether deregistering a child from school, starting from scratch or anything in between, here’s the low-down on what to do and when to do it, including sample letters. These sites also include information on The Legal Situation and how it affects YOUR family in plain English.
If you live in England or Wales
NB; Nursery or Reception class; It is unnecessary to deregister if your child is not yet school aged. Compulsory school age begins on the first day of the term AFTER their fifth birthday.
If you live in Scotland
If you live in Northern Ireland
Deregistering a child with special educational needs
Up to date information on legal aspects can be found on government websites including compulsory school (education) leaving ages and your rights with regards to truancy sweeps are explained on the Education Otherwise site. You can find information on School Refusal here.
Dealing with your LEA
Firstly and most importantly – DON’T PANIC!!! It really is OK, you really are acting within the law and there is loads of help and information available, free of charge within the home educating community. Your LEA may contact you immediately, or they may never contact you at all. You are NEVER obliged to contact them to tell them you are home educating. You have all the legal information you need in the previous section and know your rights and responsibilities. What you receive from the LEA can range from a short letter to a long complicated form. No matter, what you send them is always your decision and should be what feels comfortable and appropriate for your individual family. The worst thing an LEA can do is to take your mind off your family by causing you worry – Don’t let them!!
You are never obliged to have an LEA officer visit you at home. They may, as a matter of their policy, inform you that a visit has been/will be arranged. You are not bound by their policy, and can simply and politely refuse, several times if need be. If you choose to have a home visit it should be because you feel it is beneficial to your children – never because you feel intimidated or brow beaten into it.
Preparing Written Evidence
The following links will take you to letters, educational philosophies, reports and statements of education written by home educating families. They are shared as examples to inspire you to think about your own unique statement. Whatever you send need not be perfect, technical or very formal. It must be truthful and in your own style. Members of the many home education e-mail lists are only too pleased to look over a draft of anything you write and will give you feedback. Whether to make the changes suggested should be your decision and it’s wise to be wary if anyone tries to completely rewrite it for you. It is never necessary to pay anyone to help you write a letter. As home educators, we have all been helped by more experienced people along the way and are pleased to pass on what we have learned.
2015: I urgently require examples of written reports for inclusion in this site and would be grateful to receive ones I can publish or links to ones online.
What about exams?
Check out the HE Exams Wiki for more information.
When LEA’s go BAD!
Still don’t panic, help is at hand. Fortunately, cases where an LEA has managed to force a legitimately home educated child into school are so rare most home educators cannot remember hearing of one. Nevertheless, occasionally an LEA will cause a family a lot of worry by threatening court action. If, after using all the resources available, you find yourself out of your depth and in legal difficulties, you will find expert help within the home educating community – as well as lots of support. The links here will help you contact the people to talk to for urgent, serious help.
You can access initial legal help from Education Otherwise even if you are not yet a member. Phone their helpline on 0870 7300074 for details of a local contact who can put you in touch with the legal team.
Contact Mike Fortune-Wood Owner of Home Education UK Website and experienced Home Education Advocate.
The following organisations may also be helpful.
What is an SAO anyway?
In Scotland, Schoolhouse can offer information and support and can put you in touch with a specialist solicitor. Contact Schoolhouse here
Whoever you contact, it is vital to be totally straight with them about your case and to inform them of who else is involved in helping you. That way you can get the maximum benefit of the expertise available.
Finding Contacts and Support
There is no substitute for talking and listening to those with experience, and seeing the evidence for yourself. There are many ways of meeting other home educating families and our networks keep growing year after year. These links can help you get started on your own personal network of H.E. friends.
If you have regular Internet access and quickly find all the support and contacts you need, it may not be worth your while joining a national organisation. On the other hand, joining can offer a contact list and a monthly magazine, which you may find useful. Many home educators join at first and get a feel for the organisation. That way you can decide for yourself whether you wish to continue to support the work of the organisation and whether membership has benefits for your family.
Camps and Festivals
Many home education camps run throughout the summer starting with the mighty HESFES in May. This presents an ideal opportunity to meet face to face as many home educators as you could wish for. Once you’ve been to HESFES it’s hard to imagine you are home educating alone ever again. For full enjoyment, join one of the mailing lists above and take part in the pre-HESFES banter.
There is so much to read about theories and methods of home educating, it’s hard to know where to start and easy to feel paralysed by it all. It can also be tempting to stick with what you know and avoid opening up to new thinking. Having your children around all day can be enough of a shock for some people! The links in this section are intended as a starting block for an investigation of all the research, theory, method and controversy of the H.E. world. It is by reading and thinking widely that we all continue to grow and learn alongside our children.
Books and Book Lists
You are likely to find more similar articles on other sites linked throughout this article.