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Homeschooling & EOTAS Packages

A number of adults who work in offices came to appreciate the benefits of working from home during the Covid lockdowns and for many people, this has remained the ‘norm’ ever since. In a similar way, some children discovered that they preferred learning at home rather than in a classroom.

However, regardless of any pandemics, parents have always had the right to educate their children at home. Many children – especially those with special needs – find the mainstream school environment overwhelming and stressful and the same can be true even if they attend a special school. Homeschooling – also known as ‘elective home education’ – can provide a workable solution to these challenges.

Numbers of Children Being Homeschooled is Growing

 

According to figures released by the Department for Education this year, more than 86,000 children are currently home-educated in the UK. There are a number of advantages to this kind of set-up. Firstly, homeschooling gives families greater control over what the children learn and how they do so. Parents don’t need to have any experience of teaching and are free to follow the curriculum or not if they choose – though there is an expectation that students keep up with the literacy and numeracy levels of their age group.

Families can take their children out and about to parks, museums and libraries, for example, to facilitate learning, following the child’s interests and aptitudes. They can share lessons and activities with other homeschooling families or employ tutors for specialist subjects without the pressure to pass endless tests and meet the school’s targets.

Home Education Takes Time and Energy

Despite the benefits of taking children out of the school system, it still needs careful planning. There is a worry that young people will miss out on the socialisation that school provides so parents may need to ensure that there are other opportunities for their kids to meet other youngsters – maybe through clubs and sports. Some families connect with each other through local homeschooling Facebook groups.

And if, for example, there is a plan for the child to one day transition back to the school environment or go on to college or university, families may need to check that there are no ‘gaps’ in the young person’s knowledge that might get in the way of being accepted back into the mainstream system. Because home education takes time, commitment and often money, the whole family needs to be on board with the plan.

How to Set Up Homeschooling

If a child hasn’t started school and the parents intend to home-educate from the start, there is no need to inform anyone of this decision. However, if the child is being removed from school to begin home education, the parents must inform the school in writing. Local authorities have no legal duty to monitor what kind of education a child is receiving at home though some may check up from time to time.

If a child attends a special school, the local authority will need to give consent for the child to be removed from the register and parents will need to provide details of how they intend to meet the young person’s needs.

Home Education for a Child with an EHCP & EOTAS Packages

 

Students with an EHCP in a mainstream school may also be homeschooled if a parent makes this request in writing to the head teacher. Parents may also apply for an EHCP if their child is already homeschooled.

Home education is different from an EOTAS agreement or packages (education other than at school) as parents are completely responsible for the content of the child’s learning and how it takes place. With EOTAS packages, the local authority is responsible for and pays for the services specified in the EHCP. Although there isn’t usually any funding provided for homeschooling, families can apply for a personal budget to meet the young person’s needs.

If a home-educated student needs access to health services, this is usually arranged through a GP.

Useful Contacts

The following websites provide useful information of home education. You may also approach the education department of your local authority for guidance.

Charity Education Otherwise – www.educationotherwise.org

Home Education Advisory Service – www.heas.org.uk

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