The purpose of school is to provide education and learning opportunities to all people from a young age so they can acquire knowledge, develop skills, and form positive character traits that will prepare them for future success in life. Individually this gives each person a high standard of literacy and promotes critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills. From an economical point of view, it aids in the development of a skilled workforce and increased economic competitiveness.
Therefore, in the UK, it is compulsory for every child to receive an education.
- What UK law states
- Is school education compulsory?
- When does compulsory school age start?
- When does compulsory school age end?
- School structure in the UK
- Home Education
- Facts about Home Education
- Advantages of Homeschooling
- How to I start home schooling or home educating
- Do I have to teach school hours?
- Do I have to provide all the education?
- Can I educate my child part-time at home and in school?
- Do the children need to sit exams
- Will the LA give me any support?
- Is there funding available for home educators?
- Can I change my mind?
- How to get started
- Make decision and plan out what you want to achieve
- Start thinking about style and method of home-schooling
- Set up a makeshift classroom
- Join a local (or online) home school group
- Choosing the Right Resources
- Sample Home School time table 1
- Sample Home School time table 2
- Buying Materials
- Islamic Home schooling
What UK law states
The law states that: “The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable: (a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and (b) to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.”
The compulsory school age in the UK is between 5 and 16 years old. To ensure each child receives an efficient education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude, the UK has a national curriculum. The national curriculum in the UK is a set of subjects and standards that pupils are expected to learn in schools in England. It sets out what subjects are taught, what knowledge and skills are required at each stage, and how pupils’ progress is assessed. The subjects covered in the national curriculum are: English, Maths, Science, Design and Technology, Computing, History, Geography, Art and Design, Music, Physical Education, Citizenship and Modern Foreign Languages. Religious education is also part of the national curriculum.
After the age of 14, the arts (comprising art and design, music, dance, drama and media arts), design and technology, humanities (comprising geography and history) and modern foreign languages no longer are compulsory but all pupils must study at least one subject in each of the four areas till they are 16.
Is school education compulsory?
No. Although the state provides an avenue to meet the legal obligation i.e., state schools, parents can choose to educate children at home or make their own private arrangements like private schooling.
Home Education is the same as Home Schooling but since the learning experience is more than the traditional school setting, many parents prefer to use the term Home Education.
When does compulsory school age start?
Children reach compulsory school age on 31 December, 31 March or 31 August after turning 5 (whichever comes first). The child would need to start full time from the first day of the next term after this date. To comply with the law, most children will start school full-time in the September after their fourth birthday. This means they’ll turn 5 during their first school year.
When does compulsory school age end?
The compulsory school age ends on the last Friday of June in the year in which the person becomes 16, provided that their 16th birthday falls before the start of the next school year. If they were born after the summer holidays, then they will continue to study till the following last Friday of June.
They must then do one of the following until they turn 18:
- stay in full-time education, for example for a-levels in sixth form or college
- start an apprenticeship or traineeship
- spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training
If you turn 16 between 1 March and 30 September you can leave school after 31 May of that year.
If you turn 16 between 1 October and the end of February you can leave at the start of the Christmas holidays in that school year.
You can leave school on the last Friday in June, as long as you’ll be 16 by the end of that school year’s summer holidays.
If you turn 16 during the school year (between 1 September and 1 July) you can leave school after 30 June.
If you turn 16 between 2 July and 31 August you can’t leave school until 30 June the following year.
School structure in the UK
Across the UK there are three stages of education: early years, primary, secondary.
Early Years Education
Although it is not compulsory to place children under five in school education, parents are encouraged to begin the learning journey early on. The early years foundation stage (EYFS) sets standards for the learning, development and care of the child from birth to 5 years old. All schools, including childminders, preschools, nurseries and school reception classes must follow the EYFS.
The EYFS only applies to schools and early years providers in England. There are different early years standards in Scotland and Wales.
The primary stage covers two age ranges: 5-7 (Key Stage 1) and 7-11 (Key Stage 2). The major goal of primary education is achieving basic literacy and numeracy amongst all pupils, as well as establishing foundations in science, mathematics and other subjects.
The secondary stage also covers two age ranges: Key Stage 3 (11-14) and Key Stage 2 (14-16).
There is a comprehensive national curriculum framework document that breaks down each key stage and subject in detail: The national curriculum in England – Framework document. Other breakdowns of the curriculum by key stage or subject can be found here: National curriculum by Subject.
Does everyone need to follow the national curriculum?
In England, all state-funded schools, including academies and free schools, are required to follow the national curriculum. Private schools have more flexibility but many still choose to follow it. Home schooled children are not required to follow the national curriculum.
The national curriculum is, however, very comprehensive, so a great starting point and bench mark for home educators. It will also help keep the child on track if they will be home schooled for only a few years.
As part of the National Curriculum, there are assessments to measure the progress of students. They are completed at the end of key stage one and key stage two. But after 2022/23, key stage one assessments will stop becoming mandatory. SATs cover core academic subjects – English, maths, and science. In secondary school, GCSEs are held at the end of Key Stage 4, with some option to take GCSE’s early on in year 9.
Regardless of assessments, teachers must write an end of year report to summarise progress and attainment every year.
|Child’s age||Year||Key stage||Assessment|
|3 to 4||Early years|
|4 to 5||Reception||Early years||Assessment of pupils’ starting points in language, communication, literacy and maths and teacher assessments|
|5 to 6||Year 1||KS1||Phonics screening check|
|6 to 7||Year 2||KS1||National tests in English reading and maths. Teacher assessments in maths, science, and English reading and writing|
|7 to 8||Year 3||KS2|
|8 to 9||Year 4||KS2||Multiplication tables check|
|9 to 10||Year 5||KS2|
|10 to 11||Year 6||KS2||National tests in English reading, maths, and grammar, punctuation and spelling. Teacher assessments in English writing and science|
|11 to 12||Year 7||KS3|
|12 to 13||Year 8||KS3|
|13 to 14||Year 9||KS3|
|14 to 15||Year 10||KS4||Some children take GCSEs|
|15 to 16||Year 11||KS4||Most children take GCSEs or other national|
The purpose of Ofsted (The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) is to inspect and regulate services that care for children and young people, and those providing education and skills for learners of all ages. It aims to provide assurance that the services and education provided are of high quality and to help drive improvement where needed.
Ofsted does not get involved or inspect home education.
Facts about Home Education
- You do not need to be a qualified teacher to educate your child at home
- Your child is not obliged to follow the National Curriculum
- You do not need to have a fixed timetable, nor give formal lessons
- Your children do not need to take the formal assessments and exams
Advantages of Homeschooling
- Flexibility – there’s no school run or fixed schedule to stick to, so you can tailor your homeschooling routine to what works best for the family. That could mean shorter days, more outdoor activities or even devising a bespoke timetable that makes sense for you and your children.
- Academic Freedom – while most state (and many private) schools teach the National Curriculum, you’re under no legal obligation to stick to this with homeschooling. That means you can do less of the subjects your children hate and more of those they love, or add a completely new subject. This is especially useful when introducing life skills and transferable skills.
- Child-led Learning – with only your child (or children) to cater for, you can go at a pace which doesn’t outstrip their abilities or slow them down. You can also use the specific learning methods your children prefer, and spend extra time on topics they’re struggling with, as you’re not on a strict timetable.
- Confidence – not only does homeschooling diminish the risk of bullying, but one-on-one teaching is also likely to boost confidence and independence. You might find that in a home environment, without a classroom of peers watching, it’s far less daunting for your child to ask a question or share an opinion.
How to I start home schooling or home educating
If you intend to home school from the beginning, then you will need to start home education from the age of 5. If you have considered all aspects carefully and decided to go ahead with education other than at school, then confirm this in writing to your local authority and the school (if they were enrolled to one).
The Local Authority (LA) has a responsibility to make sure that your child’s education meets the requirements of the Education Act. An officer from the LA will contact you in the future to discuss the education you are providing for your child. If the provision is ‘suitable’ you will be able to continue to educate your child other than at school. You can provide evidence your child is receiving an efficient and suitable education by:
- writing a report
- providing samples of your child’s work
- inviting a local authority representative to your home, with or without your child being present
- meeting a local authority representative outside the home, with or without your child being present (representatives have no automatic right of access to your home)
If the education provision is not suitable you will be given suggestions as to how to improve the provision. If your child is not receiving suitable full-time education then the Local Authority may instruct you to send your child back to school.
Do I have to teach school hours?
No. Full time does not mean necessarily working school hours or working for 25 hours a week. Enough time should be scheduled to be able to teach all the required subjects.
Do I have to provide all the education?
No. But it is your responsibility to ensure that an efficient programme of work is provided. This can be done by the parent or parents. You can also use suitable friends or pay for specialist teaching; however, it is your responsibility to ensure that any tutors/teachers are suitably qualified and experienced to teach your child/children. You are also advised to remain at home when a tutor is teaching your child. Remember your child needs may change at different ages. The level of education you provide should not restrict opportunities for your child in their future.
Can I educate my child part-time at home and in school?
Yes. It is called flexi schooling but this is only if the headteacher is in agreement. Some colleges of further education will support education otherwise by allowing access to courses but the financial responsibility for these courses remain with the parents.
Do the children need to sit exams
Exams are not compulsory for home educators but in order to progress on to university and get most jobs, Universities and employers will require, GCSE’s, A-Levels and/or a degree, so most parents will work towards formal exams.
Will the LA give me any support?
It is the LA’s responsibility to act only if it appears a suitable education is not taking place. The LA may make informal enquiries about your provision and may be able to offer advice. If you decide to return your child to school, the LA will be happy to advise you.
Is there funding available for home educators?
There are no funds directly available from central government for parents who decide to educate their children at home nor from local authorities. Some local authorities provide guidance for parents, including free National Curriculum materials.
Can I change my mind?
Yes. You can seek a place in a school at any time. If the school of your choice is full in your child’s year group you do have right of admission appeal. Sometimes a decision to educate a child at home is short term. Ideally the home educator will regularly re-assess the decision to home educate as the child grows and circumstances change. The LA and school will help with a plan for re-introduction to school.
How to get started
Children in schools typically attend for five hours each day, 190 days per year, spread out over approximately 38 weeks. This does not have to be mirrored in home education. A school day includes registration, breaks, lunch, set-up and tear-down times, assemblies, and a variety of ‘extra’ activities. Home-schooling frequently involves almost constant one-on-one interaction or small groups of children learning together, allowing children to learn more, be more confidence in asking questions if they don’t understand, and receive instruction that is more tailored to their unique requirements.
Make decision and plan out what you want to achieve
Have a think about how many years you want to home educate for? How many children? so you can really spend time focussing on relevant aspects.
Start thinking about style and method of home-schooling
We have a guide here of a number of home education learning styles here: Approaches to home schooling
Set up a makeshift classroom
If you’re lucky enough to have a spare bedroom or reception room, this could be the ideal place to set up a classroom – but the kitchen table or a desk in the lounge can do just as well. Having a dedicated space to work in will encourage your children to focus during study time, especially if you set up learning materials around it, like displays of their work so far, or educational posters.
Join a local (or online) home school group
Many parents believe that by homeschooling their children will be isolated from society because they will no longer attend school. Nowadays, you may home-school your children while also allowing them to engage with others and form friendships. If you are against your child making virtual acquaintances, they can still go to the park every day and establish friends with the children of their neighbours. You can also encourage your child to interact with others while visiting museums or other educational facilities, allowing you to expand your network of other homeschooling families.
Homeschooling does not require you to stay at home 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Homeschooling can be done anywhere other than at home, including parks, field trips, mosques, historical buildings, and so on.
Find a home-schooling group is a great resource, not only for you but for your children too. You can meet other parents who are teaching home-school, get advice and share ideas, while your children can benefit from the company of other children their own age, and build a social circle.
Choosing the Right Resources
There is a wealth of resources available on the net, have a look of this list we have compiled for you. Eventually you will be able to craft your own curriculum or pick up a standard home-education pack.
You don’t necessarily need to plan the school year but it is good to get familiar of the expectations. You can then break this down to terms and weeks. If you plan well, then you can focus on the educating part and less so on the planning, resources and activities and you will always have a fall back.
In terms of daily and weekly timetables, plan out a loose time table. Here are a few samples, but remember you do not have to follow a strict routine!
Sample Home School time table 1
Sample Home School time table 2
Books and Textbooks
The books you need for homeschooling will vary in line with the curriculum you choose, but it’s likely your children will require text books, for subjects like maths, science and geography, as well as fiction books for English. If your child is looking to take SATs, GCSEs or A Levels, there’s a wide range of textbooks designed to cater to these exams, as well as all-inclusive courses.
Homeschooling without technology can certainly be done, but it’s far less challenging if you have access to online resources via a computer, laptop or tablet. You might also want to consider investing in a printer, headphones, USB, calculator and a digital camera for documenting progress, or using in creative projects.
- Exercise books (lined, plain and graph paper)
- A3 coloured paper
- Writing pens and pencils
- Coloured pens and pencils
- Rulers and erasers
- Scissors and glue sticks
- Sticky notes
- Subject folders
- Coloured biros for marking
- Whiteboard pens and eraser
- Flipchart and marker pens
- Stickers in different colours to reward good work
- Lesson planner
- Teaching diary or journal, to record progress
- Box files for teaching materials
For the wall. Decorating your makeshift classroom might help your children to get in the zone, and it’s also a great way of incorporating visual aids into your teaching. You could put a map of the world up, or a wall calendar for marking dates and deadlines; you could also display helpful infographics for grammar techniques, or timelines for history.
Finding a space big enough for your teaching materials is a good idea, and separating these out by subject – whether in box files, caddies or drawers – is bound to save time in the long run. If you can, you could also allocate a personal space to your child, where they can store books, subject folders, stationery and any other bits and pieces.
Colourful organisational supplies can motivate your children to stay on top of their work, and keep their home school space neat and tidy. It’s worth investing in dividers, as well as ring binders for different subjects, a stapler and a holepunch, and plastic boxes for storing equipment too.
Islamic Home schooling
Islamic home schooling refers to the practice of educating children at home based on Islamic beliefs and values. This method of education allows for a more personalized and faith-based education. Islamic home schooling is a choice for parents who believe that it aligns with their religious and educational values and provides more control over their children’s education.
Parents can include Arabic, Islamic studies and teach the Islamic view relating to personal, social and health education. Parents can also include aspects of the Sunnah to the child’s upbringing.