Have you thought about home schooling your children? It can be a positive choice but it can also be a huge adjustment for the whole family. Jilly Carrell, AFF education & childcare specialist, has been looking at the options…

ELECTIVE Home Education (EHE) is legal throughout the UK. It can be a good short-term solution if you’re moving between areas, for example, or when your child is on a waiting list.

You may decide to look at home education if your child has a period of ill-health, is unhappy in their current school, being bullied or for other social reasons. Sometimes poor academic achievement in the face of high mobility and parental deployment, a lack of support or the stress of testing and targets can prompt parents to opt into the EHE approach. 

Do your research

Taking the leap to home schooling can be stressful and you’ll need to be certain you feel you can teach and support your child. The longer your child has spent in traditional schooling, the harder it can be as it can take time to adjust. You may have to make difficult financial decisions, moving from two incomes to one or exploring working from home options. 

Regional differences

In England and Wales, you can choose EHE at any stage of compulsory education and are not required to register or seek approval from the local authority.

You must inform your current school, accept full financial responsibility and ensure suitable full-time education is provided. Search home education at gov.uk or visit educationotherwise.org

In Scotland and Northern Ireland, visit schoolhouse.org.uk and hedni.org


EHE can present risks for service children overseas, particularly if your child has Special Educational Needs and/or Disability (SEND) and/or where you may be unable to access appropriate or sufficient support.

As part of the MOD’s assessment of supportability, you need to state any intentions to home educate prior to an overseas posting – this helps the local overseas command to decide whether EHE can be supported for your child.

If you do decide to home educate whilst overseas, you won’t be able access MOD school resources. Where SEND support is required but not accessible, EHE isn’t recommended. Following the release of a new Directorate of Children & Young People’s directive on home educating overseas, you’ll need to:

  • Tell your child’s school so that they’re removed from the admissions register
  • Inform overseas command of your intent to home educate
  • Pay all costs incurred as a result of electing to home educate
  • Ensure that the education you provide your child is effective and sufficient
  • Ensure appropriate safeguarding
  • Where it’s assessed that your child’s needs can’t be met, you will have to cover all costs – including the cost of returning to the UK if it’s necessary – if you still choose home education. 

For further info, email the Children’s Education Advisory Service on dcyp-ceas-enquiries@mod.gov.uk, or contact me at ec@aff.org.uk

CASE STUDY: The Forrest family

Willem (15) has been home educated in the UK, Germany and Turkey. Mum Natalia commented: “In some overseas locations it can be difficult as there’s often no home education community to be part of.”

Whilst Paderborn and Istanbul presented challenges, now that the Forrests are based in London, Willem is enjoying a wealth of opportunities: “There’s so much for Willem to see and do as part of his learning experience,” said Natalia. “He has joined several local sports and hobby clubs and is a member of a home education philosophy group at King’s College.”

In some areas Natalia feels it can be hard to find home education groups for older children: “Think about where your child can take exams and the costs; look into any legislation and security implications of taking part in local groups and activities, in addition to any language or cultural barriers.” 

Willem, who is now studying four A Levels and an AS level over three years instead of two, said: “Home schooling is pretty fun. It allows me to have more freedom in my learning. I’m aiming to go to university to study mechanical engineering or war studies.” 

CASE STUDY: The Morris family

Olivia (10), Charlotte (7) and Alexander (5) have experienced six military moves in the last eight years. The family’s home education journey started in Germany, but on posting to Canada they’ve now decided to home educate full-time. 

It took time for the family to prove to the chain of command their ability to home educate and demonstrate how they could integrate into the Canadian system. “We registered with a home school board and we have a facilitator who checks in on our plans, progress and issues,” said mum Hannah.

The family follows the Canadian curriculum supported by accredited books and weekly online classes where the children meet with an experienced tutor. “When a family home schools in Canada, the funds that a school would otherwise receive for resources go to the family, so we have used this for educational visits, tutors and music lessons,” explained Hannah. “Our strong base of family and home education provides a good sense of security for the children.”

The children agree: “I love being home schooled because I get to choose what I want to learn,” said Olivia. Charlotte added: “I like being home schooled because I get the freedom to explore.” 

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