Many believe that in order to homeschool you must be from an extremely well-off, middle-class, two-parent household which allows one parent to go out and work and the other to stay at home and homeschool the children.
While this would be ideal for most, this is certainly not the case across the board, and in fact, the growing number of homeschoolers and the information on demographics being obtained in 2020 now show that home educators come from all different walks of life.
According to the National Center for Education Statics, since 1991, the most common homeschool family structure and set up is a working father and stay-at-home mother.
However, today there are homeschoolers who are single parents, stay-at-home fathers as well as homeschoolers where both parents work and alternate with the children.
What we now know is that the concept of home education and homeschooling in general, is not monolithic. And what it looks like varies from family to family.
Having said that, next to the question ‘can I homeschool as a single parent?’, to which the short answer is, yes, the other questions are usually, ‘can I claim benefits and homeschool?’ or ‘will I get any government support to homeschool?”—well, let’s get into that.
Can I claim universal credit and homeschool my child?
Sadly, although homeschooling saves the government millions of pounds each year there is no help given to single parents or families who choose to homeschool. The good news is, there is an abundance of free resources all over the internet to help you homeschool and homeschooling does not need to cost you a penny.
However, if you are unemployed and would typically rely on Universal Credit to cover your day-to-day, homeschooling will not be a factor in stopping you from having to queue up at the Job Centre. They would still expect you to take the first suitable job that arises.
Keep in mind, suitable for you, can mean working 16 hours over the evenings and weekends and despite what one advisor might try to tell you, you will not need to give up homeschooling to take on a job that is inflexible.
It has been done, and you do have options, despite how they might make you feel about your choices.
Additionally, there is nothing about being on universal credit itself that would mean you cannot legally withdraw your child from school.
Your financial circumstances have little to do with your ability to provide your child with a good education. In the same way, your desire to home educate is not recognised by Universal Credit, so they will not provide you with any extra benefits to assist you.
Can I still claim child benefit if I homeschool my child?
In the UK, as long as your child is within the qualifying age range for child benefit (under 16 years old or under 20 if still in education), and you work less than 24 paid hours per week, then you are eligible for child benefit. Your eligibility can be clarified here (link to gov.uk eligibility checker)
If you are eligible for child benefit, the only thing that will stop that is if your child is no longer in approved education or training or you begin working more than 24 paid hours.
Are there any homeschool grants or tax benefits I can claim?
There are no official government grants or tax benefits you can claim to help you with homeschooling, generally.
Although there are no official grants or packages being handed out to every homeschool parent, individuals can apply for grants for education to support their child’s learning and to obtain additional education resources. The catch is, you have to find them yourself.
Many child-oriented organisations also offer homeschoolers subsidiaries for certain things, but these are on an individual or group basis, and you must also go out and look for these yourself.
It helps to be a part of some local homeschool communities as they often share deals they have been contacted about or requested.
A common subsidiary is with homeschool group bookings, courses, trips, excursions, and programs; companies may offer homeschoolers group discounts based on the size of the group.
Can I homeschool if I live in *insert city or borough here*?
Yes, you can. Homeschooling is not illegal in the UK. Wales, Nothern Island, and Scotland will have different requirements, but you can find a more detailed answer specific to your borough here (link takes you to gov.uk homeschool information by postcode input).
– Elective home education laws and guidance for Wales (gov.wales)
– Elective home education laws and guidance for Northern Island
– Elective Home education laws and guidance for Scotland
With regards to them giving you any sort of funding for it… They will usually let you know straight up, something like this:
Parents must accept full responsibility for educating a child at home. We do not provide financial assistance, a curriculum, or tutors for children who are taken out of school by their parents.A London Borough Council
In other words, “I support your choices and everything… but don’t ask me for nothin’!”
How much does homeschooling cost?
Homeschooling doesn’t need to cost you very much at all, but if you wish for your child to sit their GCSE’s and other exams which would have been provided by the school, you will need to pay for these yourself. GCSE’s can cost between £30 – £50 per subject.
But, the short answer is anything from £0 – £3,000 or more depending on how you are with money! It is VERY easy to get carried away on Amazon or sign your child up to more programs and extracurricular activities than they can manage. But if you just don’t have it, or simply set yourself a budget, you will be just fine.
Plus there are PLENTY of free resources from online classes, documentaries, youtube channels, courses, programs, educational gaming websites, activity sheets, curriculums, lesson plans, etc. available all over the internet.
I have put together posts with links and information on just that. It should save you hours of Google skimming (and lots of money!)