What’s in a name?

Thank you to Serendipitous Home for reminding us of the importance of getting the terminology right when it comes to elective home education in the UK, and for questioning the motives of the media (and others) in portraying it relentlessly as ‘homeschooling’.

What is in a name? Why I don’t home school

I have been contemplating the slow burn shift that has been happening in the UK. There has been a move away from calling what we do, Home Educating. And a move towards it being called Home Schooling. Obviously not everyone does it, but more and more (and I am sorry to say, it is mostly new people to the HE community) are doing it.

I have a bit of a problem with it and here is why.

Home education, although not the most perfect name for what we do, is very different to home schooling.

Home schooling conjures up in people’s mind, kids sitting around a table (or a classroom at home), doing school at home. And perhaps that is what you do, and so, in that case it is probably an accurate term for you.

However, everyone else may not be like you- which is why I think we (who don’t home school) jump on the media when they use such a generic term.

I haven’t quite worked out if the media are using the term deliberately or not. I can swing both ways, depending on how shiny my tin foil hat is that day. On one hand it could just be ignorance. On the other, it could be a clever ploy, to make an association between what we do at home, and what schools do.

Home education, provides scope, to encapsulate many different philosophies of education. It is of course our right, under the current education act, to ‘educate otherwise’. That means you can sit at home doing bookwork, or you can be off at the park learning naturally, or unschool (again not a fabulous title), you can come under a Charlotte Mason approach, an autonomous method, use classical schedules, or any other approach or combination you choose, that best works for your family.

Probably the biggest beef I have with referring to it as home schooling is that, when you put us in the same box as a school, then you open up the door for people to expect us to be treated like schools.

Schools have Ofsted- therefore homes should have a similar thing.

Schools have monitoring and registration- so therefore homes should have a similar thing.

Schools have funding- so therefore homes should have a similar thing.
And on it goes.

This is why, I am not quite willing to give the media the benefit of doubt. I do wonder, if referring to it constantly as home schooling, plants the seed in people, that we should be monitored the same way as schools.

I have never claimed to be a school, I don’t come close to looking like a school, and I certainly do not want to be lumped together with schools.

I am not a school. We are a family, in a home, learning, as is our right, as the current law gives us freedom to do.

It worries me, that the more we refer to ourselves as ‘home schoolers’ the more we wear down the divide between us, and traditional educational settings. People come to expect the same things from us, that society expects from their schools.

We are very different. And that is ok. It is ok to be different. We have our own identity, our own purpose, our own philosophies and our own ways of educating our children.


We, too, have lost count of the journalists and editors we have berated for getting the terminology wrong. Elective home education, or just home education, covers the spectrum of approaches and is referred to in statutory guidance.

Let’s call it what it is: home education, not homeschooling.

Forum thread here.


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