The UK homeschool situation, often referred to as home education, is a bit different than it is in the United States. Keep reading to find out more about how the UK homeschool and the US homeschool situations compare.
How the Law Differs
One of the fundamental differences in the US and UK homeschool situations has to do with the law concerning schooling. According to Infoplease.com, 49 of the 50 United States have compulsory school attendance laws. Colorado, the standout state, according to this information has revised its school attendance law to reflect that a child being “instructed at home” is not held to the public school attendance requirement.
In the UK, on the other hand, according to the Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities, “The responsibility for a child’s education rests with their parents. In England, Education is compulsory, but school is not.” This difference in where education rests - with the state or with the parents - gives the UK homeschool situation a very different feel than the US homeschool movement.
How the Statistics Differ
In the United States, the National Center for Education Statistics at the Institute of Education Sciences of the U.S. Department of Education keeps track of the numbers and location of home-schooled students in the United States. In the report, “Homeschooling in the United States: 2003,” the statistical analysis report shows that the percentage of K-12 homeschooled students stood at 2.2%, up from 1.7% in 1999, and amounting to 1,096,000 students.
In England, by way of contrast, a 2004 study called “Prevalence of Home Education in England - A Feasibility Study” concluded that: “This study concludes that it is not feasible to reliably ascertain the prevalence of home educated children through a national survey of LAs [Local Authorities] and home education organisations (as a route through which to access parents/carers). This is because despite improvements in LA records, there could be significant numbers of home educated children who are not known to an LA.”
Additionally, the study found that, “The numbers of home educated children known to LAs varied but on the whole were very small. The total number of home educated children known to the nine LAs sampled was 1,245. This ranged from 0.09% to 0.42% of the total school population in the areas concerned.” In other words, UK homeschool statistics are simply not ascertainable. This is likely due to the UK view of responsibility for a child’s education.
In the UK, unlike in the US, there is no such thing as a minimum course of study, state standards, or curriculum frameworks that a parent must follow. The responsibility is broadly stated: “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.” This quotation comes from the European Convention on Human Rights, quoted in the “Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities.”
In addition, parents need never make contact with the state-run public education system. The Guidelines document states: “Parents are not required to register or seek approval from the local authority to educate their children at home.” In other words, the UK homeschool is an autonomous education unit that both has full responsibility and full authority to implement any type of educative curriculum with any type of approach or method that meets the qualifications of efficient (that is, “achieves that which it sets out to achieve”) and suitable (that is, one that “primarily equips a child for life within the community of which he is a member . . . as long as it does not foreclose the child’s options in later years to adopt some other form of life if he wishes to do so.” These explications come from the decision in a court case quoted in the Guidelines document.
On account of these differences, UK homeschool education may have a very different face than US homeschool education, but it is not likely a face that we will ever fully see.
National Center for Education Statistics, “Homeschooling in the United States: 2003,” Table 2 - nces.ed.gov
Department for children, schools and families “2006041 - Prevalence of Home Education in England - A Feasibility Study” - dcsf.gov.uk
Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities, - dcsf.gov.uk
Infoplease.com “State Compulsory School Attendance Laws” - infoplease.com
The Colorado Department of Education “Home Schooling in Colorado: Title 22, Colorado Revised Statutes: Education Article 33: School Attendance Law of 1963” - cde.state.co.us