Sarah-Jane Critchley is the author of A Different Joy: the Parents' Guide to Living Better With Autism, Dyslexia, ADHD and more... Here, she shares her experience of home educating her autistic daughter and suggests what to consider before deciding to home educate.
- Can you afford to do it? Many parents have to give up work in order to home educate their child. This may well mean the loss of a salary for a number of years. Parents will need to supply all of the costs of education out of their own pocket, including internet access, teaching resources, learning materials and the cost of taking exams. There is rarely support from the local authority (LA).
- The age of your child and whether they will be able to re-enter school prepared to take public exams if this is what they want to do. It can be difficult to persuade a school to accept a pupil who has been home-schooled if they have not been following a traditional curriculum as they may not have covered the subjects or been taught the skills the school would expect, which might impact on the performance of the school.
- How to create opportunities for social activities and time with friends. Many families are part of home education networks, sports, arts or drama clubs or specialist groups like Potential Plus for children with ‘high learning potential’.
- What to teach. Although it is not compulsory to follow the National Curriculum, the law states the education you provide should ‘prepare your child for life in modern society and enable them to progress towards meeting their full potential’. It is recommended that you include study in core subjects such as English, Maths, Science and ICT provided that it meets their needs. Online schooling can offer access to traditional teaching subjects at home.
- Where your child has an identified Special Educational Need, the LA has a duty to make sure that those needs are met. This may include visiting you in the home to see how you are meeting those needs, but there is no legal requirement for you to allow a home visit. If your child attends a Special School, the LA has to give permission for them to be home educated.
- Safeguarding. The LA has a responsibility for safeguarding all children, wherever they are educated. Any tutors you employ should have completed a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check and be able to show it to you. If the LA has any concerns about the safety of your child, they have a duty to act to protect them, as they do with all children.