It is not obligatory to send children between the ages of 5 and 16 to a formal school. Any parent may elect to educate their child at home, providing they follow the guidelines listed in the following article. Read on for details.
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Although UK law states that it is compulsory for all children between the ages of 5 and 16 to receive education, it is not obligatory to send them to a formal school. Any parent may elect to educate their child at home, providing they follow the guidelines listed below:
- Parents are not legally required to inform their local authority when they decide to educate their children at home. However, if their child is already enrolled in a school, they must notify the school concerned in writing that they intend to homeschool their child.
- Parents should inform their local authority of any significant changes in their circumstance, such as a change of address. However, this is not compulsory.
- There are no funds directly available for parents who elect to home-educate their children and there is no legal duty for local authorities to provide financial support. However, some local authorities may provide guidance and other support to parents, such as free National Curriculum materials. The level and extent of this support is decided locally, based on the authority's own policies and the needs of the child.
- Parents may decide how they deliver home education; they do not have to keep school hours or follow the National Curriculum. However, they must ensure that their child receives an efficient full-time education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs the child may have.
- The local authority must be satisfied that a home-schooled child is receiving suitable education and may ask to visit the family home to talk to the parent and child, and to look at examples of work. However, the local authority has no automatic right of access to parents' homes and parents may choose to offer an alternative way of proving that they are providing suitable education, such as meeting at another venue to show examples of work.
- If it appears that a child of compulsory school age is not receiving efficient or suitable full-time education, the local authority is obliged to serve notice on the parent requiring them to satisfy the authority that their child is receiving suitable education "otherwise than at school". If the parents' reply is unsatisfactory, or if they fail to reply, the local authority may issue a school attendance order (SAO).
Advantages and Disadvantages of Homeschooling
- Can allow a longer play-oriented childhood, encouraging the development of imagination and pre-academic skills which can foster later academic success.
- Can effectively tailor a curriculum to suit an individual student's academic strengths and weaknesses, especially for children who are gifted or have learning disabilities.
- Can avoid the negative social pressures of schools, such as bullying, drugs, school violence and other school-related problems.
- Can allow each student to work at their own pace, enjoy family holidays and integrate outside activities or current events into subjects they are studying.
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