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FAQs | Research | Why Home Educate | Educational Philosophies | Learning Styles
Education Otherwise was formed by a small group of parents at the beginning of 1977 (one of these families was Iris Harrison's, whose diary for this critical time in the history of home education in England is now available on this site). Education Otherwise is a membership organisation, with over four thousand families, groups and individual members distributed throughout the UK and abroad, and has evolved into a self-help organisation which can offer support, advice and information to families who are practising or contemplating home-based education as an alternative to schooling.
We have a network of over 100 voluntary local contacts spread over the country who are usually willing to give personal help to members in their area. They are backed up by people who have specialised experience in various aspects of education "otherwise."
We take our name from the Education Act, which states that parents are responsible for their children's education, "either by regular attendance at school or otherwise."
An increasing number of parents and children want an alternative to school. Our reasons are many, and we often differ widely in our views, but as parents we share the desire to take back direct responsibility for the education of our children rather than to delegate it to schools. We aim to offer an immediate service for our members and also to establish the freedom of all families to make responsible choices about the sort of education best suited to them.
We do not have any source of funding other than members' subscriptions and donations, and everything we do is dependent upon the work and commitment of volunteer members. The practice of education "otherwise" is steadily spreading and our membership is increasing: membership is open to anyone - as well as those practising education "otherwise," we have many members who simply want to support us.
Answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about Home Education
Q. Is it legal in England?
A. The law in England states that education is compulsory but school is not. The relevant extract from the law can be found in our Legal pages.
Q. Does a parent have to be a qualified teacher?
A.A parent does not have to have any formal qualifications in order to be able to educate their child at home. A parent would have been educating their child from day one - and no-one teaches you how to be a parent! How a parent and their child choose to learn will be the first - and perhaps the most exciting - thing that they discover when they start home educating. Finding out how your child learns, how they view the world and their place in it, can be a real eye-opening experience. The process of education will be one that the parent cannot help but share, and you will grow together.
Q. Do Local Authorities monitor home educators?
A. It is likely they will want to know what educational provision is being made for a child. However, they have no legal right to monitor a family and can only make informal enquiries of parents (see relevant section of the legal pages). If parents chose to repond, they may chose to do so in any way eg in writing, via a home visit or by meeting in person at a neutral location such as a library.
Q. What about exams?
A. Formal testing is not required - a child does not have to sit Key Stage tests if they are educated at home. Some children may chose to enter for formal qualifications (such as GCSEs) as private candidates or arrange for part-time attendance at Further Education College. Others use correspondence courses. Again, it is for the parent and child to decide what is right for them.
Q. What about socialization?
A. The word socialization, contrary to the opinion of some, does not mean spending the weekdays competing with 25 human beings one's own age. In a natural community children spend their daily lives with old people, babies, and everyone in between. They do not compete, but learn to search out the needs of others and to help them live and learn. This mixed age group and habit of teaching and helping others, and being helped and taught by people younger or older than oneself, is a natural part of home education.
Research Papers Relating to Home Education
More and more papers are being published concerning home education and its benefits to children who have been home educated. Education Otherwise keeps a record of such published research, which can be found on their site here.
Why We Home Educate
A number of personal stories have been kindly offered for publication by home educating families, in trying to explain to a wider audience why they have chosen to educate their children "otherwise" than in school:
A series of pieces written by Dads for Dads.
Ross Mountney - Ross and family have been home educating since 1999. Having deregistered their children from school for a variety of reasons, the children now choose to continue home education.
EO Member - This member has asked that her story be shared, but that she remains anonymous to protect the privacy of her family.
Barbara Rainford - Written September 2005 - Barbara has a son who is school phobic/has school anxiety.
Educational Philosophies/Statements of Educational Provision
As a result of informal enquiries by their local authority, many people chose to offer an Educational Philosophy or a Statement of Educational Provision. Frequently this document will be a combination of philosophy and a Statement. It is a unique document relevant to the parent(s) and their child(ren) and lays out how they offer educational provision in their family. Several examples can be viewed on the Education Otherwise site.
As every child, and every family is unique, the way in which learning occurs within each family is unique. In addition to the more formally written Education Philosophies, it is also enlightening to read about the personal experiences of families with very different Learning Styles.