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Home ed in Scotland - how much trouble is it to get permission if they start regular school?

(10 Posts)
murmuration Wed 11-Nov-15 10:44:39

I've been fascinated by the idea of home education, and we have friends in two separate countries (US and NZ) who home ed. I suspect we would be capable of doing it, but not sure it is the best for our family (much better if I was the SAHP, but I have FT job and DH is chronically ill, so he is SAHD thus most of the home ed would fall to him and he is not as confident that he could do it).

So our plan had been to send DD to the local school and see how it goes. It may be all fine, but I'm worried that it might not work out. But I've now learned that in Scotland (where we live) you have the right to home educate and can make that decision before they start school. But if you decide to send them to regular school, you then need permission to withdraw them.

This worries me - how difficult is this permission to get? (And what if the reason we want to withdraw is some sort of conflict - either between DD and the school or us and the school? Will that make it harder?)

Oh, DD is 3.5, so we're talking starting school in a bit less than 2 years, as she'll start at a little past 5 due to her birthdate.

Saracen Thu 12-Nov-15 23:24:14

Sorry you haven't had an answer yet from someone who knows what they are talking about! I'll have a stab.

I don't know many people who have taken children out of school in Sctoland. I do know that the LA consent for withdrawal is meant to be a formality and there are few grounds on which consent could be denied.

Do you know the main Scottish home ed charity SchoolHouse? There is plenty of useful info on there. I followed a link from there to this page from the government:

which says "Parents do not have to give a reason for choosing home education when requesting to withdraw their child from school. Any reason given should have no bearing on whether or not consent is given, as the authority's interest lies in how the parents intend to educate their children not their reason for doing so." I don't know whether that reassures you.

As for your dh's concerns about his ability to HE, here is how it strikes me. For one thing, most parents report that home education is easier than they expected and that they get to grips with it as they go along. So he is probably more competent than he realises! For another thing, even if the two of you choose to do formal education with your children, it takes very little time because the individual attention is so much more efficient than group teaching. You could sit down and work with them for a few hours a week when you aren't at your job, leaving your dh to take on the role of childcare and provision of fun during weekday daytimes.

It seems to me that the main potential problem is whether your dh feels well enough to cope with looking after a young child full time... but by the sounds of it, he is already managing that now. If he is not overwhelmed by having a three year old around all the time, then assuming his illness doesn't get worse, he'll be fine with a five year old, who is likely to have become a bit easier.

So even though obtaining LA consent to deregister doesn't appear to be a nightmare, I still wouldn't discount the option of HE from the start just yet. Look into it some more, and see if your dh wants to meet some other HE families in the area and/or come on here for a chat with us about what home ed may be like on a daily basis.

murmuration Fri 13-Nov-15 08:52:41

Thanks saracen! I'd found SchoolHouse, which is nice to know it's there. The pages about what if permission is denied and mediation made me a bit worried...

I suppose if all else fails DH and DD could move elsewhere temporarily until we got things sorted (maybe even back to US, although I'd not like that sad ) Know someone who did something that recently, though, and it didn't work out so well -- his daughter was having trouble in school, so his wife took his kids back to their home country elsewhere in Europe, but then wife had a breakdown and he had to go to her and ended up quitting his brand-new job at which he'd only worked a few days. No idea what he's going to do next.

DH's main worry is his energy levels, and the ability to get DD enough social interaction. Currently he takes her swimming and dancing, and she goes to nursery 2x a week, when he gets some rest. They go to playgrounds maybe 1-2 times a week, although that can sometimes be hard on him. Social gatherings would be even harder. And DH and I are both introverts, but initial indications suggests DD may be an extrovert, so she'll likely need more interaction than either DH or I can handle!

I have read things from US about double-job families who still home ed, so it appears it can be done in the times around FT work. But I'm also ill, not so much as DH, but so not sure how much outside of work time I can manage (FT job is a bit more than I can manage, but have to keep going as we need the income!). I also don't want DD's only time with me to be formal schooling! Although if we can do a more un-schooling type of thing, that could work.

DH's friend in NZ doing the homeschooling I think has made him more positive towards the idea. We have a bit of time to decide. I suspect it would be better for the family if DD could go to regular school, but only if DD is happy there! Her, um, native enthusiasm makes me worried that she may find a traditional environment less than pleasant (although when at home and parented gently she is a very compliant and pleasant child; the only times we've had trouble is when trying to apply more traditional techniques). Thus my worry about regular schooling.

Saracen Fri 13-Nov-15 22:13:32

Hmm, sounds like it may be hard to predict what will be best until later on! As long as you know what the options are, I am sure you will find the right way forward.

I know what you mean about having a sociable child. I had one of those, and it can be draining for an introverted parent! I remember an occasion when my 6yo had been interacting with me intensively for several hours and I told her, "I need some time alone. I am going to set the timer for half an hour and go in the bedroom. I don't want you to disturb me unless it's an emergency. You know what it's like when you've been with other people a lot and you just need to be by yourself?" and she looked at me blankly and said "No..." grin

I am lucky in having loads of HE families in my area who are happy to do playdates and childcare swaps, which makes it all much easier. It was actually easier for me to have a child or two come visit than to look after dd on her own. And then there was the bliss of having the invitation returned. Total silence! Ahhh.

If you are not so fortunate, you might look into after-school clubs. I don't know whether they have them where you live. This is after-school childcare intended for working parents, usually based at a school but often run by an external provider who will accept any children, not just those who attend that school. So, for example, your dh could drop your daughter off at 3pm and pick her up at 5:30 after she's had a few hours of singing and crafts and group games. Some of my friends have done that. I looked into it when I needed childcare but ended up going with childminders instead.

Guess it will all start to be clearer closer to the time.

Lessstressedhemum Sat 14-Nov-15 21:53:37

We had a hellish time with our local authority. It took months to get permission to withdraw. Our LA wanted to do things like inspect our house for first aid provision and gym equipment. They even harassed my dh at work.
Best advice I can give you is to contact Schoolhouse, the Scottish HE charity. They can help with everything.

murmuration Sun 15-Nov-15 07:57:33

Oh, that's worrying, lessstressed. Are they allowed to inspect your home? That sounds ridiculous, too -- surely first aid is not only an issue during school hours, so why care about it suddenly for home ed? And where you supposed to have or not have gym equipment?

Do you think Schoolhouse would share information about track record for particular LAs? I imagine, not actually, but maybe local groups would help. Hmm, found a Facebook group, where some members have mutual friends with me. Bit wary about joining though - what if we decide not to home ed?

Lessstressedhemum Sun 15-Nov-15 08:27:05

No, LA 's are not allowed to the inspect your home or even come in if yyopu don't want them to. As long as you provide them with an education philosophy outline giving them info about how you intend to provide an efficient and appropriate education and providing there are no outstanding safeguarding concerns, there should be no reason to drag the process out. Doesn't work like that in real life, sadly.

Schoolhouse used to have info on how LAs handled HE, I don't know if they still do, though. I have been home edding for a long time and don't really need support now.

As far as groups go, just join, it won't matter if eventually you choose not to HE, no one will judge you or bother too !much.

Where about are you? You might find that you are on an area like mine, where home Ed is unheard of. The last Iooked, our LA ha 11 kids registered and 4 of those were mine!

onlyoneboot Mon 16-Nov-15 12:05:40

I think it will depend on where you are. In my region home ed didn't even feature on the council website, against Scottish Government good practice, but once I contacted the council they provide forms and were very helpful. I got the impression it was a very rare event. Due to our circumstances, we've ended up registered to the authority but not in school so not fully home ed but deregistering completely would not have been a problem.

Lessstressedhemum Mon 16-Nov-15 13:31:33

Our council doesn't have anything on its website or anything either nor a named person with responsibility for home Ed. In fact everything they do contravened the Scottish Government's code of good practice!

I think if you live in an area where home Ed is more common, you are likely to get a better response but NAC are awful. The whole thing made my husband I'll. They were doing things like randomly turning up at his workplace to question him, phoning our home about 10 times a day (no exaggeration)and getting the head teachers of both primary and secondary schools involved even though one of my kids was transitioning from primary to secondary and one hadn't started school yet, both circumstances under which no permission is needed to withdraw.

I hope that you have an easié time of it than we did. Again, I recommend contacting Schoolhouse for advice and support.

murmuration Mon 16-Nov-15 13:45:57

Ooh, our council does have something on its website! Is that a good sign, then? I hope so. No idea how many home educate around here. I suppose if I joined that Facebook group I'd know more...

I'm quite worried if they are pushy, as that is likely to create even more problems. DH I imagine would not take it nicely, and I worry he'd respond aggressively and it might make for all sorts of problems. He's very territorial and protective, and wouldn't take well to someone wanting to come in the house.

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