This research explores the aims and practices of home-educating families throughout the UK. The methodology involved a questionnaire survey completed by one parent from each of 419 home-educating families, and 196 assessments to evaluate the psychosocial and academic development of home-educated children aged eleven years and under. The aim was to gain an understanding of children’s education outside school. This is the first UK study to be conducted with home-educated children and their families incorporating such diverse methodologies, broad aims and large sample.
Analysed questionnaire data revealed no clear ‘type’ of home-educator. They came from diverse socio-economic backgrounds and at least 25% of parents did not have a university degree. There was more or less an even division between children who had been withdrawn from school and those who had never attended. Families welcomed involvement within their communities and home-education tended to be a lifestyle choice rather than a statement about state education.
The quantitative results showed that 64% of the home-educated Reception aged children scored over 75% on their PIPS Baseline Assessments (achieved by 5.1% of children nationally). The National Literacy Project assessment results revealed that 80.4% of the home-educated children scored within the top 16% band (of a normal distribution bell curve), whilst 77.4% of the home-educated children assessed on PIPS Year 2 achieved placement within this band. Results from the psychosocial instruments confirmed that the home-educated children were socially adept and did not display behavioural problems beyond the norm.
The home-educated children demonstrated high levels of attainment and good social skills. Common to all families involved was their flexible approach. Children benefited from parental attention and the freedom to develop their skills at their own speed. Families enjoyed strong bonds and parents were committed to providing a nurturing environment for their children.