With an increasing number of enquires coming to AFF about admissions and appeals, is home education something to be considered for your child? AFF Education & Childcare Specialist, Lucy Scott, investigates…

Stephanie is married to a serving soldier and has two children. She decided to home educate her eight-year-old daughter, Sydney, and shared her experiences with me. Her son is happily settled in school but she felt her daughter was not receiving the right level of help. My daughter had skipped a year at our previous posting. Her new school assured me they would be able to match her levels due to class sizes being so small. I provided them with a suitcase load of work from her previous school, a personal letter from her former teacher and her SATs results.’

However, despite Stephanie taking time in preparing and speaking to the school, home education was becoming her best option so she contacted the Local Authority (LA). It was a very straightforward process, as she explains, ‘We had an advisor on hand from the start, and I looked into what we had to do legally.’

Most LAs would prefer to be told if you move into their area, but permission is not needed if your child has not been to school before, and you only need to inform the LA and school if:

  • you are taking the child out of school – deregistering
  • they attend a special school
  • they have a school attendance order.

Rewarding experience
Stephanie admits home educating was a terrifying prospect at first, ‘I know nothing about teaching, I didn’t know what to cover. I was so scared Sydney would get bored or would not learn anything.’ Home Education Consultants provided by the LA, websites, blogs, books and local groups can all help. ‘Our advisor has been great. We had an initial chat, he gave us some direction and we set off! He came back four weeks later to see our progress.’

Top tips
Seeing how much Sydney enjoys being home educated is the most rewarding part of Stephanie’s role, she says, ‘We have a great relationship and a good laugh doing some of our activities! My top tip would be to keep it fun, get a good printer, and don’t flap! Because we live in a great technological age there are millions of free resources. We are doing a project this term so I contacted parliament. A secretary to a famous politician sent us a parcel full of education resources and gave us a trip around!’

Not all plain sailing
Parents who opt for home education take on the sole financial responsibility for it, and of course you will most likely have to forsake having paid employment. You don’t have to keep to the same hours as schools or follow the national curriculum, but think about the future, and also about the time that is involved. Be mindful of the level of work that’s expected if you choose to home educate an older child.

Stephanie has come across opposition from other families who have children in school, but she’s glad she has stuck with it, ‘Some people I’ve met have just delayed their child going to school because they’re so young; others worry about how their child will develop socially if they aren’t at school. Just because we are Army families we don’t have to put up with poor education.’

‘Ultimately I’d love to get Sydney into a great school and hopefully on our next posting we will get this opportunity.’

If you’re thinking of home educating your child and would like some more information, contact Lucy at ec@aff.org.uk

Useful links

UK – www.educationotherwise.net; www.home-education.org.uk

Scotland – www.scotland.gov.uk; www.schoolhouse.org.uk

Wales – www.wales.gov.uk

Northern Ireland – www.deni.gov.uk

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