The Rise of Homeschooling as an Accessible Educational Direction

By Helena Roots, Senior Consultant at Athena Tuition

The tide slowly seems to be changing in terms of how homeschooling is perceived.
Homeschooling has had a reputation in the past for being an old-fashioned option, that fought against the education system as opposed to working with it, or as something that isolated children and damaged their social skills. Yet a 2017 Telegraph article reported a 97% increase in the number of UK based homeschooled students between 2011 and 2017, and the numbers continue to rise.

Families’ reasons for seeking homeschooling are diverse: with the strain placed on the education system, some students who are in need of extra support - such as students with special educational needs - are not being provided with the specialist guidance that they need; with funding for creative subjects being cut in nearly 40% of schools across the UK, some students’ true passions are left to fall by the wayside; as the push for greater school results increases, and competition becomes increasingly fierce for top school places, many students risk falling through the cracks of the education system, and with the increase in class sizes, the one-on-one attention that every student requires is often reduced.
Home education can also be attractive to students who have suffered from bullying, low confidence, and mental or physical illnesses. Small wonder, perhaps, that for some families, homeschooling has never looked so appealing.

Homeschooling can also offer children the chance to work with a team of tutors who can be hand-selected based on their experience, personality, and approach to learning and who can provide those children with the tools they need to get back on track and to develop a new passion for learning - or simply provide motivated students with greater agency in their own education.

At Athena, we work closely with parents to produce the best plan; establish effective communication channels, and set both short and long-term schooling objectives – as well, of course, as providing the student with all the support they need.

One recent student we worked with required short-term homeschooling, as their ADHD was becoming too large a barrier for them at school and their progress was stalling as a result. Their confidence had suffered, and they needed tutors to help them get back on track, ready to re-engage with education, and well equipped to start their first year of GCSE education when they returned to school.

External factors can also play a major part in the decision to pursue home education. For example, the daughter of one of our clients has received homeschooling with our tutors for several years now, seeing her through her GCSEs, her A Levels, and most recently her University applications. After becoming disillusioned with the education systems, and feeling as though their daughter’s own interests were being flattened, her family reached out to us for advice. Since homeschooling, she has found it incredibly rewarding to be trusted with a say in the direction of her education. We, and the whole team supporting her tuition, have seen her confidence and her grades soar since working with specialist tutors in the comfort of her own home, and she has also received offers from some of the top Universities in the UK.

Whilst the cost of homeschooling can be a cause for concern for some, the rewards can be unparalleled. Examinations can be prepared for at a pace that works with the student, rather than against them. Sometimes it can mean taking some subject examinations earlier than the normal schedule and so release the pressure of taking all of them in one go. Tutors themselves get the opportunity to build a deeper understanding with their homeschooling students, and have the freedom and flexibility to tailor their lesson timetables and structure the syllabus to match the students’ interests/abilities.

Homeschooling - like any kind of education - is not for everyone. It is a major lifestyle change, for the whole family, and so for those considering this route for their child, there are big questions to mull over before taking the plunge:
- How does my child feel about this change?
- What is my budget?
- Do we have everything we need ready, in order to transfer to homeschooling?
- Where can I find specialists who have experience dealing with homeschooling tuition?
We always talk through each of these issues in depth with parents, to make sure that all questions are answered and everyone is on the same page prior to anything becoming final.

Homeschooling can allow students flexibility with their timetables, increased educational agency, and the chance to build meaningful relationships with specialist tutors who take their interests, lives, and passions seriously every single lesson. For families, homeschooling can provide priceless peace of mind that their child is fully supported, and where they too are kept involved on all rungs of the educational ladder. For us, watching how homeschooling can transform the lives of students makes our work more rewarding than ever, and we hope the tide continues to change so that homeschooling is a viable option for any student who requires it.

Helena is senior consultant and placements specialist at Athena Tuition- helping match tutors and students across London and beyond.

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