More and more black parents across the UK are deciding to take their children out of school and take their education into their own hands. When parents decide to remove their child from school, it is usually due to negative experiences within the public school system.
However, some black parents had already decided to never admit their child to school once they came of compulsory schooling age. The reason one family may decide to homeschool could well be different to that of another nine families. And with the growth of online tuition programs and more parents working online, the numbers will only continue to rise.
- Black Parents Share Why They Decided To Homeschool
- Structured learning and other options
- For Parents Who Are Strongly Considering Homeschooling
- Homeschooling: What are the Costs?
- Will I Get Any Government Support If I Homeschool My Child?
- Don’t fear the LEA – they are not your enemy
- Final thoughts
- Some of my favourite books on educating black children:
Statistics show that the main reasoning behind a families decision to homeschool is:
- Academic reasons
- Religious reasons
- Behavioural issues
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However, these records are often very vague and lack depth. Homeschooling is not an easy option; often one or both parents make multiple huge sacrifices to be able to accommodate this new lifestyle shift.
In some cases, one parent will take on the education and the other will continue to work outside of the home.
Even bigger sacrifices are made when a single parent decides to homeschool their child(ren). Despite homeschoolers saving the government and taxpayers billions each year, homeschoolers are not compensated in any way so any educational materials they need to buy or field trips they need to plan, comes entirely out of their own pockets.
This only shows that there is a lot more that goes into the decision to homeschool than any statistics table can show us.
Being part of a large, black homeschool collective, purposed to share resources and provide a support network for each other, I have been able to get a bit more insight into why black parents are choosing the homeschool option.
I have asked them for their raw and honest truth and their experiences thus far on their journey:
Black Parents Share Why They Decided To Homeschool
3 children: 7 years, 3 years, and 7 months
“Well before having children, I planned to be self-employed and imagined having my children with me. The school would have made that impossible but when my older sister started homeschooling I realised it was actually possible.
When I had my first child my friend’s children had had negative experiences at school. I felt that teachers weren’t as passionate and those were, were restricted by bureaucracy.
Academisation took many schools in a business direction and there were changes in the curriculum I did not want my children exposed to.
Also, my daughter was a summer baby so I felt she was too young to be going off 5 days a week with her sensitive soul navigating public toilets and our unique diet.
I felt confident that I could facilitate her education and build a network of support and friends and create opportunities for learning. My second child was due weeks after my eldest would have started school and that was the final deciding factor to continue educating her myself.”
Amanda Patrick and Dwayne Patrick, London
4 children: 8 years, 5 years, 3 years and 11 months
“We are a family of 6. Myself, husband, and 4 children. Children’s ages are 8, 5, 3, and 11 months. We decided to homeschool because from birth to around 9 is a very important stage of a child’s life and we would like to instill the foundation of morals that the children can use to navigate them through life.
We wanted to reverse the amount of time they are with us. From 80/20 that ratio being: with us 20% and 80% at school. We wanted, in this stage of their lives, for them to be with us most of the time to teach them about life and Biblical principles.”
Roschelle and Jason Daniels, Manchester
2 children: 8 years and 3 years
“We have been ‘unschooling’ for almost 2 years now. Homeschooling was not something either of us considered before having children. We both expected to get back to our careers and, you know, keep on going on the hamster wheel.
Holidays once a year, short breaks in half-term. But once we had our first and had a feel for the system we both knew something didn’t feel right. Time seemed to be going so fast. The bright little girl we once knew in the years before she started in reception, was fading.
She didn’t particularly like school, although she was a smart girl and loved learning. Then, to hear about her being bullied and consistently speaking to the teachers about it, speaking at meetings with parents and nothing happening.
That’s heartbreaking, as a parent, to drop your child off every day, to this place where she isn’t even protected. To know she is being made to feel less than and we can’t even comfort her and reassure her.
It just didn’t make sense to us and none of us was happy. I was at home with the baby so we said ‘it is now or never’ and deregistered her.
The school didn’t seem to like the idea but we had been reading a lot and talking to other unschoolers we had met on Facebook so we knew we were legally within our rights to do so. Once we got over that first hurdle it has been fairly smooth sailing from there.
The biggest challenge we have faced is the age gap. Now we know we will most certainly be home educating our youngest officially when he reaches compulsory schooling age.
But juggling the two who are just under 5 years apart can be difficult. In the same breath I know of warrior mamas jugging 4 and 5 all different ages so as long as I have my support network as a reminder of what is possible, I’m good!
If you enjoyed reading these black parents’ homeschool success stores you might like these, too…
Structured learning and other options
Structured learning for children has been challenged by other communities for years. But of recent, black parents are concluding that maybe classrooms are not the best learning environment for their children after all.
According to official government school admissions figures, more than 60,000 school-age children were home educated during the 2018/19 school year, this is an increase of 13% from around 52,000 from the previous school year.
The Education Act,1996 states that parents of every school-age child must provide an education ‘suitable’ for his/her age, ability, and aptitude. However, interpretation of what is considered a ‘suitable’ education is subjective as the law also allows parents to decide how their children receive an education.
While the majority of parents elect to enroll their children in a public school, this is not the only option.
There are many different options for alternative education and a family’s needs will determine which route they take. You can choose to take a more hands-on approach to your child’s education by home educating them.
Some Homeschooling Fun Facts
According to Forbes, ‘the demographics of the approximately two million U.S. homeschoolers have changed dramatically over the past two decades, with a population that is now much more reflective of our larger society.
Urban, secular families are among the fastest-growing group of homeschoolers, as parents seek alternatives to an increasingly standardized, one-size-fits-all mass schooling model.
Most peer-reviewed studies on homeschooling outcomes find that homeschoolers generally outperform their schooled peers academically, and have positive life experiences.
A survey of grown unschoolers, or those young people who are able to pursue their interests and learn in a more self-directed way, revealed that more than half of them worked as entrepreneurs in adulthood.’ – Kerry McDonald, Education Contributor, Mar 11, 2020
For Parents Who Are Strongly Considering Homeschooling
Removing your child from school, to begin home educating them requires a lot of reflection and preparation. You have to be certain that homeschooling is in your child’s best interests. Furthermore, you need to understand that homeschooling will likely require forfeiting significant amounts of your time and money.
Planning is everything. You must specify the type and structure of the education you plan to teach, the costs, access to support groups, and how to deal with the Local Education Authorities. (LEA)
Once you have all the necessary information, you can take your first steps. Don’t be surprised if you discover that giving your child a home education requires a lot more effort than just helping with their regular homework.
In the same breath, don’t panic, there are guidelines available to help you get it right and ensure that your children get a good and quality education. When properly done, homeschooling can be a fun and enjoyable experience for both parents and children.
Requirements for Removing your Child from School
No legal requirements are preventing you from removing your child from school. All you need to do is state that you are withdrawing your child. This can be done via a simple email to your child’s school: Check this post out to learn more about the withdrawal process and download the free deregistration letter template and optional follow-up letter template.
The school may ask how you intend to provide a suitable education for the child. This part is not required by law – but there is also no need to ignore or decline their request for information.
A short and simple explanation that you are making alternative arrangements is enough. You do not need to break down what you intend to do, how you intend to do it, or provide them with any sort of action plan or schedule.
What is NOT Required
Please understand that before giving your child a home education, you are not required to present any teaching guidelines, neither are you required to do any of the following:
- Buy special educational materials or equipment.
- Obtain specialised skills or qualifications.
- Provide comprehensive lesson plans.
- Have a fixed teaching shedule
- Teach in a formal manner/mimic school
- Follow the formal school calendar.
- Educate according to the National Curriculum
- Assign marks or tests
- Provide school type extracurricular activities (though it is a good idea to)
Children with Special Education Needs
Sometimes, parents of children with severe learning disabilities and other impairments may decide to go for the homeschooling option – to give their child the nurturing touch and one-to-one support they need. In the UK, you need permission to deregister if your child is in a special school.
To remove a registered child in a special school, you’ll need to inform the Local Education Authorities, and under the current government’s Pupil Registration Regulations, your child’s name may not be removed from the school register without the LEA’s consent.
Also, you should provide a statement of special education needs, otherwise known as education health and care (EHC) plan, which the LEA should evaluate on an annual basis to ensure that the requirements are within are met.
Homeschooling: What are the Costs?
Since home education is viewed as private schooling, the government will not bear the costs of your child’s education. You must be prepared to pay for books, pens, arts, science and IT equipment, costs of public examinations, field trips, and other external activities. Home education costs range from £0 to £3,000 per annum.
£0 because it does not need to cost you a penny! And up to £3000 because realistically most parents tend to buy equipment, stationery, educational toys and books as well as pay for extra-curricular classes and clubs such as chess classes, martial arts, football etc. In addition to those costs, many parents opt to join an online curriculum/program or two to aid their child’s education alongside their other day to day activities. For this reason, homeschooling can certainly add up. The average homeschooler spends £500 a year on homeschooling in total (so don’t let that £3k part throw you off – they don’t need all that stuff…)
Will I Get Any Government Support If I Homeschool My Child?
The best thing to do is to make the most of the many free local resources – that includes the great outdoors!
Local parks (there is so much to do learn outside in nature), libraries, and museums are great.
In some cases, the LEA may offer to pay for extra home education costs incurred on special education needs.
Don’t fear the LEA – they are not your enemy
Once you’ve removed your child, the school will inform the Local Education Authorities and they will contact you for details on the type of education you are providing.
You can decide to respond in person, or send in a report through email. However, it is vital to keep the information brief, and the relationship cordial.
You should provide information proving you are giving your child a ‘suitable’ education. If satisfied, LEA officials will keep their visits to a minimum.
If you fail to prove that your child is receiving a suitable education, LEA officials can serve you with a School Attendance Order demanding that your child attend a specific school. Non-compliance could result in prosecution or fines.
What is a ‘suitable education’?
So what is meant when they state that you need to be able to provide a suitable education? This simply means that you must be able to show that you are providing an education appropriate to your child’s needs. Your resources and action plan will take into account your child’s interests, needs, and abilities, etc. That’s it.
Over the years I have been to several black community events where we talk about our issues and the solutions. We know something is wrong but rather than just complain or wait for an outsider of the community to fix it, we take that upon ourselves as the mothers and fathers of the next generation.
We are aware that our black youth are suffering at the hands of the British school system. This is not a BAME issue, this is a black issue – it is less about separation and more about getting our own house in order first and foremost.
And there are many ways in which home education, community-led cultural programs, and mentorship can solve our issues. This is why many black parents now see home education as a way to take back our youth. To change the narrative. To construct a better future for us all.
More and more Rites of Passage type organisations are popping up (such as 100 Black Men of London and Manhood Academy) with aims of steering our youth in the right direction, character building, and creating opportunities.
We are focussing more and more on entrepreneurship, economic empowerment, mental wellness, health, and nation-building. The most important factors in our children’s upliftment and ours as a people, and coincidentally these are not and cannot be taught in public schools.
Of course, home education is not the only option and often is not feasible for many families due to needing to work. However, homeschooling does not need to be confined to the structured 9 am – 3 pm hours, and some parents work evenings or alternate.
Single parents have also found ways to accommodate homeschooling into their schedule – check out this post to learn about how you can go about homeschooling as a single parent and what routes you can take. Another option is to have an Afrocentric-based curriculum alongside the national curriculum your child follows at school.
This can be introduced on the weekends either at home or via a pan-Afrikan Saturday school, though I am unsure how many of those still run today.