By Paula Rothermel, University of Durham, 2002
This research explores the aims and practices of home-educating families from diverse socio-economic backgrounds. The methodology involves a questionnaire survey completed by 419 home-educating families and 196 assessments evaluating 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 involving home-educated children and their families, using diverse methodologies, broad aims and large sample.
The results show that 64% of the home-educated Reception aged children scored over 75% on their PIPS Baseline Assessments as opposed to 5.1% of children nationally. The National Literacy Project assessment results reveal 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 PIPS Year 2 home-educated cohort scored similarly. Results from the psychosocial instruments confirm the home-educated children were socially adept and without behavioural problems.
The home-educated children demonstrated high levels of attainment and good social skills. Common to all families involved was their flexible approach to education and the high level of parental attention received by the children. Children benefited from the freedom to develop their skills at their own speed. Home-educating parents fulfilled two separate ‘professional’ roles – as parents and educators. Further, in the light of these results, the concept of ‘taking responsibility’ and home-educating, rather than accepting state provision challenges us to consider how far we should go in accepting the ‘informed wisdom’ of the school norm.