UK Home Education


Home education - a parent's guide

While you may come across a few unique perspectives among parents who choose home education, this is no different from any other community that defends strongly held views that distinguish them from the mainstream.

However, home education often suffers from a negative public perception. Many parents say that revealing their decision not to send their child to school invites unwarranted comments, not only from strangers but also from close friends and family members who should know better.

While it is true that some children who are withdrawn from school and labelled as home-educated end up in illegal or unregistered schools (which authorities like Ofsted are working to address), or even experience neglect or worse, the vast majority of home educators (at least based on our encounters) are rational, thoughtful individuals who simply want what’s best for their child and believe that educating them at home is the optimal way to support their development.

Furthermore, the number of home educators is on the rise. Research conducted in 2015 revealed that there were nearly 37,000 home-educated children in the UK, representing a 65 percent increase over a span of six years. It’s important to note that this figure only accounts for children who have officially de-registered from schools, while there are many others who have never attended school and thus are not officially documented.

Why home school your child?

The decision to become home educators varies among parents—some choose it willingly, while others have it imposed upon them. We understand the diverse motivations behind homeschooling. We often hear from families who opt for online schooling because they believe that the focus on targets and formal learning in traditional schools creates a negative and stressful learning environment, especially for young children.

Some parents choose online education while waiting for a spot at their preferred school. They would rather opt out of the system altogether than accept a place that doesn’t align with their educational values. Others prefer a low-tech or no-tech approach, distancing themselves from the digital revolution. Concerns about bullying and the belief that large class sizes in public schools limit individualized education are also common reasons for choosing online schooling. Additionally, families with children whose unique needs are not adequately supported in mainstream schools, including those who are too anxious to attend, find solace in homeschooling. Lastly, gifted children who find the traditional school setting overwhelmingly stressful or require more time for specific pursuits, such as music practice, often find online school to be a better fit.

For parents who have children with Education, Health, and Care Plans (EHCPs), homeschooling is still a viable option, although the rules may differ if the child currently attends a special school. We recommend referring to resources like and for more information on this specialized area.

At The Online School, we recognize the diverse reasons behind choosing homeschooling and aim to provide a supportive and inclusive learning environment that meets the unique needs of each student.

Home schooling: the pros and cons

The advantages

  1. Flexibility: The Online School offers a liberating educational experience. Free from the constraints of state-imposed curricula, parents have the freedom to educate their child according to their own preferences. The government leaves all decisions regarding how, when, where, and what to teach entirely in the hands of parents. Learning can be fully personalized, allowing subjects that don’t appeal to be omitted or revisited later.
  2. Individualized Approach: At The Online School, we understand that each student is unique. Some home educators follow the UK curriculum, while others embrace a more autonomous approach. Some adhere to a structured timetable, while others empower children to take charge of their own learning. This diversity fosters resourcefulness, hands-on skills, and a variety of learning strategies. Home education is not about being better or worse than traditional schooling; it’s about providing a different, tailored experience that nurtures children’s natural curiosity.
  3. Learning Anywhere: The beauty of The Online School is that learning can happen anywhere. Museums, libraries, supermarkets, and garden centers can all become impromptu classrooms. Children can explore geology at the seaside, conduct chemistry experiments in the kitchen, or study biology at a wildlife center. Opportunities for learning are abundant and extend far beyond the traditional classroom setting.
  4. Student Engagement: We recognize the importance of involving children in their own learning journey. The concept of “unschooling” formalizes this approach, allowing students to take the lead in their education with the support of their parents. Contrary to misconceptions, this approach does not result in constant time wasting. Research has shown that a significant majority of unschooled children successfully transition to higher education, and numerous examples of later-life success demonstrate the effectiveness of this student-driven approach.

The challenges

  1. Academic Gaps: If parents decide to transition their child back to a traditional school, it’s crucial to consider potential academic gaps that may hinder university admissions. External exams, assessments, or references from tutors can help bridge these gaps and meet admission criteria. Ensuring a well-rounded education that aligns with traditional school expectations becomes paramount in such cases.
  2. Socialization: Schools provide more than just education; they offer opportunities for collaboration and group work. While online resources are valuable, they cannot replicate the experience of interacting with peers in person. It’s essential for home educators to establish local friendships and join regular meet-up groups to provide a social network for their children.
  3. Time, Commitment, and Resources: Opting for online schooling, whether through The Online School or other platforms, requires ample time, commitment, and potentially financial resources. Parents take on additional responsibilities, from coordinating activities and tuition to ensuring their child’s education is fulfilling and surpasses what they would receive at a traditional school. Even if coordination and instruction are outsourced to a team of tutors, active parental involvement remains crucial.

At The Online School, we recognise and address these challenges while leveraging the advantages of flexible, personalised, and engaging education.

What's out there to help you?

Flexible Education

For those who wish to maintain some connection to formal, school-based education, flexible schooling, also known as flexi education, could be the ideal solution. Although still in its early stages, this approach offers a combination of homeschooling and part-time attendance at school.

In flexi education, schools need to provide their consent for this arrangement to take place. However, there is little incentive for schools to grant permission, as it can affect their attendance statistics. Consequently, the spread of flexi education remains limited for now. Currently, we are aware of only a few schools, both state and independent, in the UK that are open to flexi education. If there are others out there, we encourage you to inform us.

Online Schools

TheOnlineSchool offers a wide range of educational resources and support for home-educated students. Their platform provides access to comprehensive online courses, covering various subjects and grade levels. With experienced tutors and interactive learning materials, students can engage in self-paced learning, receive personalized attention, and track their progress. TheOnlineSchool strives to create a supportive and flexible learning environment that empowers students to thrive in their home education journey.

Correspondence Courses

Numerous companies specialize in distance learning through correspondence courses. These courses are typically linked to formal qualifications such as GCSEs and A levels. Students pay per subject/level and receive all the necessary study materials and coursework. Students must independently arrange to sit exams, but helpful local authorities can provide a list of exam centers that are open to external candidates.


Many tutoring firms have experience in supporting homeschooled children. At the higher end, they can provide full-time, live-in tutors.

Parent-Organized Resources

Most regions in the UK have home education groups, often found on platforms like Facebook and accessible by invitation only (with careful vetting of new members). These groups organize gatherings, educational trips, and share valuable insights on local classes and activities. They serve as an invaluable source of friendship and assistance. Additionally, reputable national online groups cater to parents of children with special needs or those preparing for exams.

At The Online School, we embrace the flexible nature of education, offering a dynamic and supportive learning environment that adapts to the needs and preferences of each student.

See Our Home Ed Services Comparison

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