Home Education in the UK – A Useful Guide For Other Countries

Education is no longer considered a privilege. In most jurisdictions, ‘education’ is considered as an indispensable part of a child’s rights.

In the UK, education has always commanded a high priority in the society. The government, in turn, has always adopted a liberal education policy, as highlighted from the laws of the land. That’s why the concept of Home Education (HE) has always been an integral part of society in the UK.

Why Home Education?

Due to a multicultural and plural society as prevalent in the UK, the reasons for parents to opt for Home Education may vary. Some of the common factors influencing parents’ decisions regarding the educational needs of their children include:

– Religious, philosophical, or spiritual compulsions
– Unsatisfactory school system
– Lack of suitable schools in the locality
– To meet the specific and/or special needs of some children, like those suffering from diseases such as Cerebral Palsy, autism etc.
– Failure of child and school management to effectively tackle certain conditions in school, like bullying, corporal punishment etc.
– Financial reasons etc.

Recently, the Parental Responsibility has emerged as one of the major reasons for Home-Educating children in the UK. More and more parents are trying to learn the art of true parenthood and are relishing the additional responsibility of being (actually) responsible for the growth of the thought process in the child.

Whatever may be the compelling circumstances, Home Education is here to stay, and is being increasingly preferred in the UK. An estimated 100,000 children between the ages of 5 and 16 are being given Home Education by their parents in the United Kingdom, and the figure is likely to increase in the coming years.

Benefits of Home Education

Home Education (tutorial-based teaching) has several advantages over classroom education (instructions-based teaching). Some of these include:

1. The child tends to receive individualistic and far more attention at home than at school.
2. Comfortable home environment in the company of parents gives the child an ideal environment to learn.
3. The absence of awe-inspiring teachers means quick feedback from the child to assess his/her learning capabilities.
4. The Child can learn at their own pace, and follow their own curriculum and interests.
5. Enhanced self-motivation and self-discipline in the child.
6. Instilment of parental values instead of peer values in the child.
7. Cultivation of courage to arrive at independent decisions.
8. Avoid destructive competition in search of better grades from the peers and fellow students.
9. Special children need special attention that can only be provided under home conditions.
10. Above all, as a parental responsibility of teaching your child, nothing is more beneficial and satisfactory than to take complete responsibility of your child’s education.

Shortcomings of Home Education

One must also consider some disadvantages of Home Education before deciding the academic future of the child. Some of these include:

1. Non-development of social skills due to the absence of interaction with peers and teachers.
2. Special expertise and skills required to teach may be lacking in the parents. Moreover, they might not be abreast of the latest technologies and teaching aids that might help the child learn better.
3. Even both the parents combined may not know all the subjects required for the proper education of the child.
4. Parents may ultimately spend a considerable amount of time equipping themselves with the skills to teach their child; thus, losing out on the chance to supplement the family income.
5. Laboratories, gyms, and other facilities provided by school authorities may not be accessible from home.
6. A child’s progress will not be adequately monitored, especially as they do not have to follow the National Curriculum or take SATs.

Home Education in UK – Legal Aspect

The UK is divided into different legal jurisdictions. For instance, there are different sets of laws applicable in England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. However, substantially, all these jurisdictions follow similar legal principles and postulates, with minor variations.

Home Education has legal sanction in all three regions in the UK. Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 (England and Wales), Sections 30 of Education (Scotland) Act 1980, and Article 45 of Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 1986, are the relevant legal provisions that provide the requisite teeth to the concept of Home Education in the UK.

Here is the summary of these legalities as applicable in the UK:

Only ‘education’ is compulsory under UK laws and not ‘schooling.’

No qualification is prescribed for the parents desirous of giving Home Education to their child.

Parents are at absolute liberty to decide how they want their child to be educated at home.

No compulsion of following the National Curriculum or observing school hours.

Parents must ensure that their child receives an efficient full time education, suitable to his/her age, ability and aptitude, and to any special educational needs the child may have.

Parents are not legally obligated to inform the Local Education Authority (LEA) when they decide to educate their children at home. If the child has never been registered at a State school, or if you move to an area served by another LEA, you are not obliged to notify the LEA, although you may do so if you wish. If you are taking your child out of a state school in England or Wales, the head teacher must remove the child’s name from the register and inform the LEA. If your child has special needs and attends a special school, you need permission to deregister.

However, if you are withdrawing your child from a State school in Scotland, the LEA must be informed.

No special Government grants are available for Home Education in UK.

No formal tests are required to pass by the child. However, the LEA may ask for information informally at intervals to monitor your child’s progress.

There is no prohibition on the Home Education of a statemented child provided he/she is not attending a special school, in which case you need the consent of the LEA.

Home-Educated children can take GCSEs as private candidates or as students of correspondence courses. However, it is not compulsory to take GCSEs.

To address the concern for social deprivation of Home-Educated children, in many areas, home educators meet regularly for social, educational, and other activities. Children also attend clubs, classes, sporting and leisure activities in the community. Children get to interact with people of all ages as well as their peers.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Getting Started Writing Continuing Education Courses

Online continuing education courses have gained in popularity among licensed professionals in recent years mostly because of their affordability and convenience. There are literally hundreds of thousands of state licensed professionals across the country who are required to complete continuing professional education in order to renew their licenses. This creates an equally huge market for authors of continuing education course material.

In an earlier article, Become a Continuing Education Author and Earn Mailbox Money!, I described the benefits to licensed professionals, such as architects, engineers, land surveyors, interior designers and landscape architects, in sharing their expertise and experience with others by becoming an author of continuing education courses. In this article I will explain in more detail just how to go about doing it.

First, select a topic in which you are both interested and experienced. It is much easier to write about something that interests you and you have experience with than something outside your interest and experience. Be careful to choose a topic that is neither too broad nor too specific. Your course must be broad enough to appeal to a wide audience, but specific enough to provide useful information.

For instance, if you are an architect who specializes in retail interiors in shopping malls you probably have a lot of experience dealing with the property management’s Tennant Coordinator who reviews and approves your designs. A course that covers the general process of complying with the landlord’s technical and submittal requirements, sprinkled with real-world examples of common pitfalls and solutions could be of great interest to other architects and interior designers who also work on projects in shopping malls.

Once you have a topic in mind prepare a brief outline of the issues you want to talk about. This doesn’t have to be a formal outline, just enough to get your basic ideas on paper. You can then begin to expand upon each item.

At this point you should consider writing what are known as “Learning Objectives.” Learning Objectives are basically what the student can expect to learn by taking the course. Nearly every state licensing board requires that Learning Objectives be clearly and concisely spelled out at the beginning of a continuing education course. There should be at least three Learning Objectives for each credit hour of the course. So a one-hour course should have at least three, and a three-hour course should have at least nine. Learning Objectives should be no more than one or two sentences in length.

With your basic outline and Learning Objectives in hand you can now begin to break up major headings into subheadings and further expand upon those. Your outline and course should flow naturally and logically from the broader topic to the more detailed specifics and examples.

You should consider including pictures, drawings, diagrams or charts as visual aids to help explain your points. Asking a student to read one paragraph of text after another, page after page, without graphic aids to reinforce and break up the text is not a good idea. Use only non-copyrighted graphics and never plagiarize someone else’s work. You should also use major and minor headings in your text and pleasing combinations of bold and italicized text to further break up and reinforce the concepts you are explaining. And be sure to proof read your course for spelling and syntax errors before submission.

The last step in creating your course is to prepare a test. Tests should be in the form of True/False and multiple-choice questions. Both types may be used, however, True/False questions should not make up more than 50% of the questions. Multiple-choice questions should contain no fewer than three and no more than six choices. The test questions can be either part of the course document or a separate document. You will also be required to provide the course provider company you are submitting to with a copy of the test with the correct answers highlighted in some fashion.

The number of test questions required will depend upon the credit hour length of the course. A one-hour course should contain no fewer than ten test questions. Each additional hour should contain at least five additional questions. So a two-hour course should contain no fewer than 15 test questions.

Continuing education courses are generally assigned credit according to the length of time an average student can read and understand the material and take the accompanying test. The universally accepted units are the “PDH”, or Professional Development Hour, and the “CEU”, or Continuing Education Unit. One PDH equals one hour of professional development. One CEU is equivalent to ten professional development hours. So if your course takes an average student two hours to read and comprehend and take the test it should be rated as worth two PDH or 0.2 CEU.

You are free to include at the end of your course a list of references for further study and a bibliography. Be sure to give appropriate citations to any quotations used from other sources. You should also be prepared to submit a short biography of yourself along with your first course.

Each course provider company has their own submission requirements and pay scales. Generally speaking, you can expect to either be paid outright for the copyright to your course, or to receive a commission of around 20% of the sales of your course for some period of time. Again generally speaking, the shelf life of a continuing education course is three years. After that period of time many providers will require that you update the course and possibly sign a new contract to extend your commission for another period.

There are a variety of online continuing education course providers easily found through an Internet search. Each serves certain target professions, such as architects and engineers, or mechanical and electrical contractors. Find the ones who serve your profession and contact them. You will want to be familiar with their writing guidelines, commission rates, contracts and submission requirements before you attempt to prepare a course for them. They may also have course topic suggestions and even restrictions. Most providers will not accept a course on a specific topic for which they already have a course. So check it out before you invest your time and energy.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Charter Schools For The Spread of Education

In the United States of America, a very common feature is the charter schools. It is to be noted that while charter schools are a variant of public schools, there are certain essential differences. The charter schools are those which do not have to resort to the necessary rules and regulations that are essential for the public schools to follow in exchange of some form of liability by producing certain results which are codified in the school’s charter. Charter schools are usually funded as well as founded by those who feel that the medium of education and imparting of knowledge within the stipulated boundaries of traditional public schools are not enough to determine the development of the child. In most cases, it is the activists, teachers, even parents and non profit organizations who usually join hands to lead the foundation of these charter schools.

It is interesting to note that since these charter schools are excluded from any form of allegiance to the norms that guide the public schools, these usually function as autonomous organizations that set down their own codes of rule. Therefore, they can exercise a certain amount of flexibility in terms of their running of the charter schools. In terms of the syllabi and the teaching techniques incorporated by the charter schools, there is no form of restriction and they are free to experiment using newer and innovative techniques. However, all this relaxations have a single purpose which is laid down in the school’s charter. The charter schools are required to prove their mettle and perform better than the traditional public schools.

The most important component with reference to the functioning of charter schools is the charter itself. The charter of the school consists of the programs, aims and rues and regulations that are considered to be of prime necessity by the school authorities. The charter schools are primarily answerable to a single authority which may be the state education authority, local school boards etc. The charter is issued by a chartering authority and this authority usually varies from state to state in the United States of America. While in some states it is the state education department which issues the charter, in some it may be local school district while non profit organizations may also be the chartering authorities. There are also certain for-profit organizations which act as the chartering authority. But evidences have proved that such fro-profit schools have in most cases failed to outshine the performance of the traditional public schools, despite receiving greater funds.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Researching Teacher Education and Training in England (Key Ethical and Methodological Concerns)

The present teacher education and training environment in England is characterised by schools and university partnerships and school-based only frameworks. There are however an increasing body of ‘independent’ teacher education providers. Out of this ‘new’ thinking has emerged labels and entities such as School Direct, Teach First, Troops to Teachers and School-Centred Initial Teacher Training.

This occurrence suggests that increasingly, research in teacher education and training is being carried out in a variety of schools’ contexts. This also provides researchers with a larger ‘ground’ in which to work and a diverse array of potential respondents and participants.

While there is always a ‘downside’ some may argue that the positives (such as the potential for ‘rich data’ and increased understanding of teacher education and training issue based on a wider pool of participants) out-weight the potential negatives–some are highlighted later in this article. Additionally, the highlighted negatives are also preventable with proper understanding and application of research knowledge and procedures. However, given this ‘new’ environment here are a few ethical and methodological concerns that I see as key.

Key Ethical Concerns

Increase in the pool of research participants and places means potentially, there is an increase in the number of people who can be negatively affected. This therefore lends importance to the need to promise and maintain both confidentiality and anonymity and for researchers to be vigilant in these matters.

A lapse in confidentiality and anonymity can have adverse effects on participants, bring the researcher and her or his affiliate University into disrepute and impact negatively relations between University, partnering schools and sometimes Local Educational Authority. On the extreme end of the spectrum of negative effects, a lapse in confidentiality and anonymity could lead to Job loss, or participants being ostracized especially when the research involves sensitive issues such as race, diversity, social Justice or culture.

It is my practice – where possible- to omit names and places in my research reports. However, if these are integral to your study they should only be included after obtaining appropriate consent from potential participants. The use of pseudonyms to conceal identities is a long-standing practice among researchers and continue to aid in achieving anonymity. Additionally, confidential information about children or staff should never be disclosed at any cost.

Other ethical issues which are akin to confidentiality and anonymity is openness, honesty and autonomy. As a researcher I always inform key people in the school and assure participants of their rights to withdraw from the researcher at any time, should they wish to do so, without fear of being penalised.

It is my opinion that if these ethical issues are not carefully attended to, they may lead to less than complete and honest responses from research participants which brings into question the research findings and conclusions.

Key Methodological/Procedural Concerns

The ‘new’ environment with its wide and diverse array of potential respondents and participants provides researchers with an enlarged participant pool from which to draw. This fact suggests the need for caution and care in selecting participants for your research. Participants must be ‘information rich’. Guba and Lincoln (1998) define ‘information rich’ participants as those who are able to provide insight into the issues being researched. It is worth stating here that inappropriate participants will affect the accuracy of the conclusions you draw and the potential impact your study could have.

The other key methodological or procedural concern is the need for a clearly defined research problem. In fact, getting this right, not only helps in selecting ‘information rich’ participants, but aid university based researchers to explain to potential respondents or participants in partnering schools the research focus and guides researchers’ actions and thoughts. Additionally, a clearly defined research problem also helps to determine an appropriate research framework or procedure (e.g. Biographical, Ethnographic, Phenomenological, or Applied Research) that could be used to solve a problem, data collection methods (Interview, survey, experimental) and data analysis approach (qualitative and/or quantitative)

So what have I said?

I said, key ethical concerns for researching teacher education in the ‘new’ teacher education environment in England are confidentiality and anonymity, openness, honesty and autonomy. Key methodological or procedural concerns are participants’ selection and clearly defined research problems. These are critical in light of the enlarged field of potential participant which emerges from the new environment.

Reference

Guba, E., G & Lincoln, Y., S. (1998). Competing paradigms in qualitative research. In Denzin, N., K., & Lincoln, Y., S. The Landscape of qualitative research theories and Issues. Sage USA.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off