Education is so important. The provision of an efficient and effective full-time education is actually a statutory duty to British parents. Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 states that this must be, “either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.” There are many good reasons to choose school; this article covers a few of them.
School is an opt-in system, in the UK. Never assume you will automatically be assigned a place at your nearest school; you must always apply for a school place if you want one. You can apply at the usual entry dates for the school type. If you need to change schools midway through the school year, or at any other time, you must make an in-year application.
To help parents decide whether to apply for a school place or to continue with the default option of home education, I usually suggest writing a list of pros and cons. To help you get started, here’s a list of good reasons to choose school as your education provider. Pick the pros that apply to you and write down any cons. Are any of your reasons more important than the others? Any non-negotiable points will be the deciding factor; otherwise, the winning side is simply the one with the most reasons.
Some Good Reasons to Choose School
- Regular, fixed hours so you can more effectively plan your calendar. Term dates are published at the start of the school year, so you know the precise schedule well in advance.
- Save time and laundry with school uniforms. Even if you aren’t organised enough to lay out clothes the night before, knowing what is supposed to be worn helps speed up getting dressed. School uniform is typically hard wearing and of smart appearance. Children who wear uniforms all week need fewer home clothes, which are often more expensive than school clothes.
- Access to specialist teachers, such as SENCOs and subject teachers. If your children do not attend a school, any specialists you require need to be hired at your own cost.
- Flexischooling is a legal option until compulsory school age. Thereafter, ongoing part-time school attendance depends on the discretion of each school’s headteacher. Flexischooling is a good way to have the best of both worlds – school and homeschool.
- Social opportunities built into every school day. Primary school students get at least one daily playtime session. Secondary school students may have no official recess but lunchtime is usually up to an hour long. Children can use these social opportunities to bond with their classmates and potentially make friends.
- While home educated students are free to participate in the same extracurricular activities as school students, sometimes it’s easier to go via school. Most schools have a gym hall and a sports field. Some schools may have even better sports facilities such as their own swimming pool and both hard courts and grass fields.
More Good Reasons to Choose School
- Science can be easier to study at school, particularly if your interest lies in Chemistry. It’s possible to set up a home lab, and you can buy all the usual equipment yourself, but it’s easier to simply enjoy a school laboratory.
- Resources, in general, are easier to access via schools. At home, you have to source and buy everything. Sometimes, you can only get good deals if you’re willing to buy in bulk, which only suits large families or homeschool co-operatives.
- Fundamentally, one of the key advantages to school is cost. In the UK, state schools are free and require zero compulsory contributions. Of course, there are always requests for school trip contributions, fundraisers, and school supplies. However, these are optional and low-income families are entitled to special support. Even private schools have a cost advantage; fees are confirmed in advance of the school year so you know how to plan your budget. Low-income families can apply for bursaries or scholarships.
- Most students plan on sitting exams during their teenage years. If you don’t attend school then you need to source an exam centre as an independent candidate and bear all costs yourself. High schools are registered exam centres and the cost of exams is included in any applicable school fees.
Making Your Education Decision
Deciding which education path to walk is a difficult decision – and so it should be. This is one of the most important choices you will make for your children. There are lots of good reasons to choose school, and there are lots of good reasons to home educate. It’s not about making the choice that society suggests or your family dictates; it’s about making the choice that suits your child best because you know them better than anyone else knows them.
Finally, if you have more than one child, remember that every child is different. Siblings are different too. Maybe both of your children are better suited to school. Perhaps, you have 5 children and 2 of them are better suited to homeschool. It doesn’t matter what another family has chosen to do or if most of your friends have firm preferences for state school, homeschool or private school. It’s your children, your life and, very much, your choice. Have confidence; you’ve got this!