Ask the Home Educator (Scotland)

Membership of our forum has grown rapidly over the past few years, which has made its management more challenging, not least of all because a new cohort of families has discovered and embarked on home education due to the pandemic and lockdown learning, often facilitated by a shift to parental home-based working.

We have previously written in detail about some of the ‘new normal’ challenges for our community here

An unwelcome aspect of becoming more widely known has been the sheer volume of tutors and other education providers seeking to join our peer support network purely to advertise their services, despite our rules precluding their membership unless they are also actively home educating their own children.

Although some families adopt a more structured approach through choice (and we can signpost to groups that offer advice on curricula, exams and qualifications) home education is not about replicating schooling or needlessly worrying about ‘falling behind’ peers.

Many home educated children and young people have already been let down by the system and a significant number have additional support needs and disabilities. They are more likely to thrive in a less pressurised learning environment that does not necessarily involve formal instruction. Permitting the promotion of for-profit, school-centric offerings on our home education forum would run contrary to our ethos.

We are also unapologetic about insisting that members adopt correct terminology that is rooted within legislation and guidance, and it is tiresome to have to repeatedly critique communications from some LAs that refer to ‘home schooling’ and use unacceptable power-over language.

Free-range, learner-led education and one-size–fits-all, attendance-mandated mass schooling are quite different beasts.    

We have also seen an influx of professionals (including teachers, LA officers, social workers, health workers, childcare workers, psychologists and researchers) seeking admission to our support network, who are keen to learn more about home education to inform their practice but are similarly precluded from joining in order for us to preserve the privacy of our members.

Our admin team has therefore decided to create a new space where professionals can ask questions and participate in discussions in confidence. We hosted a small professionals’ group some years ago, which served a useful purpose at that time, but changing personnel meant it was difficult to maintain momentum.

As part of our ongoing commitment to improve relationships, we will be inviting professionals who express an interest in our forum to join our new Facebook group, Ask the Home Educator (Scotland).

Anonymous posting will be optionally enabled to preserve confidentiality, and four of our most experienced home educators have made themselves available to answer questions and clarify aspects of law and guidance in which they have all developed considerable expertise. If you are a professional reading this and wish to join, or know a colleague who might be interested, please contact us and we will send you a link. 

From the group introduction:
This group has been set up in response to the growing number of professionals seeking to expand their knowledge and understanding of the law and guidance on, and the practice of, home education in Scotland.
Professionals who are not also home educators are precluded from joining our peer support network, but we are still keen to offer information and support to those with an interest, with a view to building positive relationships with our community. Please invite colleagues who may find this a useful resource. 
The group is private and all discussions will be confidential. Our admin team, who also manage the Scottish Home Education Forum, are all experienced home educators based in Scotland who have dealt with a range of issues facing families (and professionals!) when it comes to education outside school. We also engage in regular discussions with LAs and the Scottish Government on a variety of policy matters that affect our community.
Meanwhile, for those who are still finding it difficult to navigate the sometimes choppy waters of home education, here is a quick aide-memoire on the importance of ‘minding your language’.
Please use:
  • home education (not home schooling);
  • consent to withdraw, where applicable (not deregistration).
Also, bear in mind that:
  • home education has equal status in law to schooling;
  • parents do not need permission or approval to home educate (only consent to withdraw from a council school, where applicable);
  • there is no ‘application’ for consent, rather a parental instruction for the LA to process consent according to the law;
  • schools have no role in the withdrawal process and may not veto an equal, legitimate parental choice;
  • parents submit an outline of provision (not a plan) and an update of provision (not a progress report) where requested on an annual (or longer) basis by the LA;
  • it is the provision of education that is relevant in Scotland (unlike in England), not the receipt of education (i.e. ‘progress’ or ‘expected outcomes’).
  • the only valid grounds for withholding or delaying consent are (a) known ‘live’ child protection concerns (already recorded on council systems); and (b) lack of a cogent parental outline of proposed home education provision. 


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