Homeschooling

How To Get Into Grammar School While Homeschooling

Homeschooling in the UK offers a unique and flexible approach to education. It lets parents tailor their child’s learning experience to their academic interests and emotional needs – setting them up for future success.

Lots of parents choose to homeschool during primary years, but opt for mainstream education when it comes to the more specialised study of secondary school. When it comes to getting your child into grammar school, there are specific challenges and steps to be aware of. 

This blog guides you through the process of preparing your homeschooled child for grammar school entry. We’ll focus on the crucial 11 Plus exam as well as helping your child thrive during the transition from home to secondary schooling.

How do I get my child into a grammar school?

Getting your child into grammar school while homeschooling is a commitment, but it’s totally achievable. First, you need to understand the application process and entry requirements. Grammar schools require students to pass 11 Plus exams, which assess a child’s skills in areas such as English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. You’ll then need to help your child prepare.

As a homeschooling parent, you’ll need to register your child for the 11 Plus exam. This is usually done through your local education authority or directly with the grammar school. 

It’s crucial to check the specific deadlines and requirements for each grammar school, as these vary. You might also want to contact schools to ask about any special arrangements for homeschooled applicants.

What are the challenges of preparing for the 11 Plus when homeschooling?

There’s no doubt, getting ready for the 11 Plus presents a unique set of challenges for parents and students. This is the case whether you’re homeschooling or not!

While homeschooling offers the flexibility to tailor education to a child’s needs, the strict nature of 11 Plus exams requires specific preparation. With this in mind, here are six challenges for homeschoolers and tips for overcoming them.

How to prepare for 11 Plus exams at home: challenges and tips for success

1. Access to resources and materials

One of the main challenges facing homeschooling parents is ensuring access to the right resources, information and materials for effective preparation.

  • Understanding the 11 Plus: 11 Plus exams typically include sections on English (including SPaG and creative writing skills), Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. Familiarise yourself with the format and content of the exam by reviewing past papers from schools or exam providers.
  • Limited access to past papers: While many resources are available online, finding enough high-quality, up-to-date practice papers can be difficult. Reputable publishers and websites like CGP Books or Bond Online are good places to start.
  • Specialised knowledge: Unlike school students with access to a variety of knowledge and materials through their teachers (often with decades of 11 Plus experience), homeschooling parents will need to manage this process themselves. This will take time and dedication.

2. Structured learning environment

Success in the 11 Plus requires a structured approach to learning, which can be challenging to replicate in a homeschooling environment. Ensure you maintain:

  • Consistency: A consistent study schedule can be difficult when homeschooling, as the flexibility that’s often an advantage can lead to a lack of routine. Establish a regular timetable that mimics the structure of a traditional school day.
  • Focused study time: Ensuring study time is focused and uninterrupted is crucial. Designate a quiet, distraction-free area for study sessions and break down material into manageable sections. This ensures consistent progress and reduces the risk of last-minute panic.
  • Holistic development: It’s important to not get too focused on the 11 Plus. Encourage activities that promote overall well-being during the build-up to exams, with plenty of sports, reading for pleasure, arts and social activities.

3. Understanding the exam format

The 11 Plus exam has a specific format and types of questions that students must be familiar with. Focus on:

  • Understanding question types: Homeschooled students may not be as familiar with the types of questions in the 11 Plus, especially Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. Regularly incorporate practice questions, exercises and mock exams to build familiarity and confidence.
  • Time management: Learning to manage time effectively is critical. Regular timed practice sessions will develop the ability to complete questions calmly and quickly.
  • Develop exam techniques: Teach your child effective exam techniques, such as reading instructions carefully, writing legibly and keeping cool under pressure. Exam nerves can particularly impact homeschooled children, so maintaining a calm and positive attitude is key. 

4. Access to expert guidance

Homeschooled students won’t have immediate access to 11 Plus experts for guidance and support. Here’s what to consider.

  • Seek professional support: Enlist the help of an experienced academic coach or tutor who specialises in 11 Plus preparation (like us at Achieve Learning!). A tutor can provide personalised guidance, monitor your child’s progress and offer targeted support in areas where your child needs extra help.
  • Mock exams and courses: If possible, enrol in online courses, workshops and mock exams that focus on 11 Plus preparation. Regular practice is key to success in the 11 Plus, and these group settings will build your child’s confidence.

5. Social and emotional preparation

Preparing for the 11 Plus can be a stressful experience, and homeschooled students might miss out on the peer support available in schools. To prevent this:

  • Enable peer interaction: Encourage interaction with peers who are also preparing for the 11 Plus. This could be through study groups, online forums or local homeschooling networks.
  • Stress management: Talk about stress management techniques such as mindfulness, relaxation exercises and regular breaks to manage exam-related anxiety. When planning your teaching, it’s important to avoid a narrow focus on 11 Plus subjects alone.

6. Keeping up with changes

Schools might change the format and content of their 11 Plus exams each year, so staying updated with these changes is crucial.

  • Stay informed: Check the websites of your chosen grammar schools and local education authorities for updates on the exam format and content.
  • Adaptability: Be prepared to adjust your study plan and resources based on the latest information and changes. You should also regularly review your child’s progress and adapt accordingly.

By addressing these challenges head-on and creating a structured, supportive learning environment, you’ll help your child achieve their 11 Plus potential. Remember to stay positive and flexible, and seek professional help when needed to ensure your child is well-prepared and confident. 

With careful planning, access to the right resources and support, grammar school entry is entirely possible for homeschooled students! We wish you the best of luck.

What are common issues for homeschooled children starting grammar school?

Transitioning from homeschooling to a grammar school environment can be a significant change. While homeschooling can excellently prepare students for grammar school, there are common issues. This includes a period of social and emotional adjustment, changes to routine and structure, organisation and new approaches to academic study.

Here are the main issues to keep in mind, to help your child transition with confidence.

Social adjustment

One of the most common challenges for homeschooled children entering grammar school is social adjustment. Homeschooled students may be accustomed to a smaller, more intimate learning environment, often with one-on-one interaction. In contrast, grammar schools are much larger, with a different social dynamic. 

Homeschooled children may need to:

  • Adapt to larger class sizes: With 30 or more students often in a class, it’s harder for homeschooled students to get the individual attention they’re used to.
  • Form new friendships: Making new friends and fitting into established social groups can be challenging, especially if the child is more introverted or has limited experience with group socialisation.
  • Navigate peer pressure: Dealing with peer pressure and the social complexities of a larger school environment can be a new experience for many homeschooled students.

Emotional adjustment

Alongside social aspects, the emotional impact of transitioning to a school environment should not be underestimated. Homeschooled children might face:

  • Separation anxiety: Being away from the familiar home environment and family members for extended periods can cause anxiety.
  • Performance anxiety: The pressure to perform well academically and socially in a new environment can lead to stress.
  • Adjustment to authority figures: Adapting to new authority figures such as teachers and school administrators can be challenging for students used to an informal atmosphere.

Academic transition

The transition to a formal school environment can present challenges for some students. So it’s best to start talking about these changes early. Some issues might include:

  • Adapting to different teaching styles: Homeschooled children are used to their parents’ or tutors’ teaching methods, which may differ significantly from those in grammar schools.
  • Meeting new expectations: Grammar schools have a rigorous academic curriculum and high expectations for homework and exams. Homeschooled students may need time to adjust to these demands.

Routine and structure

The routine and structure of grammar school can be quite different from the flexibility that homeschooling offers. Homeschooled children may struggle with:

  • Fixed schedules: Sticking to a fixed school schedule, including start and end times, class periods and breaks, can be a big adjustment.
  • Organisational skills: Independently keeping track of class and homework assignments, deadlines and materials requires strong organisational skills. This might feel new to homeschooled students used to a more self-paced learning environment.
  • Extracurricular activities: Participating in after-school sports activities and other school events can add to the demands on your child’s time and energy. Getting the balance right is key.

Starting at secondary school presents several challenges – for all children. But understanding the potential issues will help you prepare and adapt effectively. By providing support, encouragement and practical strategies, you’ll help your homeschooled child thrive academically and socially.

Grammar School Quickfire FAQ

If you’re unfamiliar with the UK grammar school system, here are parents’ most frequently asked questions, along with extra resources.

What is a grammar school?

A grammar school is a state secondary school that selects pupils based on academic ability. This is typically through entrance exams known as the 11 Plus. These schools are known for their rigorous academic standards and high levels of student achievement.

For more information, read our in-depth introduction to grammar schools in the UK.

Are grammar schools free to attend?

Yes, grammar schools are state-funded and free to attend. However, some private schools call themselves grammar schools, and these charge fees. It’s important to distinguish between the two when applying.

What are 11 Plus exams?

11 Plus exams are entrance tests used by grammar schools to select students based on their academic abilities. Students usually sit these exams in their final year of primary school, around the age of 10 or 11. They generally cover English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning skills. 

Here’s our guide to 11 Plus exams to help your child prepare.

Why choose a grammar school?

Grammar schools offer several advantages, including high academic standards, a challenging curriculum, smaller class sizes and excellent opportunities for further education. These schools boast strong exam results, a wide range of extracurricular activities, and a stimulating environment that helps motivated students thrive.

Do grammar schools have catchment areas?

Most grammar schools have catchment areas, which are specific geographic zones determining eligibility. Living within a catchment area can increase your child’s chances of admission. But this isn’t always the case. 

Some grammar schools don’t have catchment areas and admit students purely based on 11 Plus performance. If you’re considering relocating, here’s a complete list of grammar schools in the UK without a catchment area.

Are grammar schools hard to get into?

Securing a spot at grammar school can be highly competitive due to the limited number of places and the level of academic ability required. While grammar schools offer many benefits, they may not suit every child. 

The rigorous academic environment can be challenging, and some children may thrive better in a different educational setting. To explore your options further, read our guide to the best private schools in the UK.

Are you considering grammar school for your child?

Homeschooling your child and preparing them for entry to grammar school is a challenging but rewarding process. At Achieve Learning, we specialise in personalised 11 Plus tuition. Whether you’re looking for academic consultancy, mock exams or an extra push with reading skills, get in touch with our expert team today. We’d be delighted to help.

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Homeschooling in Britain: A Parent’s Guide for 2025

Homeschooling in Britain is continuing to grow in popularity. And for good reason! With more pressures on schools and children than ever before, parents are increasingly seeking an alternative education that provides opportunities for flexibility, a personalised curriculum and a safe learning environment. 

If you’re thinking about homeschooling in the UK, you’ll find everything you need to know in this comprehensive guide. We explain what homeschooling involves, dive into the advantages and disadvantages, as well as the latest rules and regulations when removing your child from traditional schooling.

Homeschooling in Britain: An Introduction

What is homeschooling?

Homeschooling in Britain, also known as home education or “elective” home education, is an educational practice where children are taught at home, rather than a traditional state or private school. Parents or guardians take on the role of educators, planning and delivering lessons tailored to their child’s individual needs and learning pace. 

When homeschooling, teaching might be solely provided by the parent or guardian, or supplemented by subject-specific tutors and academic coaching

Homeschooling can encompass a massive variety of teaching styles, from structured, curriculum-based approaches to more flexible, child-led learning.

How does homeschooling work?

If your child is currently in mainstream education and you want to start homeschooling – your first step is telling the school. They must legally accept your request if you’re removing your child full-time.

Schools can refuse if you want your child to attend part-time, though. This is known as flexi-schooling.

We’ll cover legal requirements in more detail, but as a rough overview, homeschooling in Britain involves:

  • Initial decision-making: Parents decide to homeschool their child based on personal, educational or situational reasons.
  • Deregistration: If the child is already enrolled in a school (even if they haven’t attended), parents must inform the school in writing of their intention to deregister their child.
  • Curriculum planning: Parents design a curriculum that meets their child’s educational needs. This can be structured around the national curriculum or customised to focus on specific interests, needs and skills.
  • Daily teaching: Parents provide daily instruction and educational activities. This can include traditional lessons, hands-on experiments, field trips and other learning experiences. The amount of time your child spends on formal learning is up to you.
  • Assessment: Exams are optional when homeschooling in the UK, but regular assessments, both formal and informal, help track your child’s progress and ensure they’re meeting goals.
  • Support and resources: Many homeschooling families join local or online homeschooling groups for support, resources and social interaction with other homeschoolers.

Why choose homeschooling in the UK?

Homeschooling offers a unique educational experience tailored to the needs and preferences of your child. Many parents are drawn to homeschooling because it allows for a more individualised approach to learning, greater flexibility in scheduling, and the opportunity to create a nurturing learning environment at home. 

Here are some key advantages.

Pros of homeschooling in Britain

  • Customised learning: Tailor the curriculum to fit your child’s learning style, interests and pace. One-to-one teaching, whether from parents or tutors, is often more effective than large group settings.
  • Flexibility: Create a flexible lesson schedule that suits your family’s lifestyle and allows for more hands-on and experiential learning. No school runs. No prescribed holidays.
  • Safe learning environment: Provide a safe and supportive environment free from bullying, peer pressure and other social issues – especially for children with additional needs that may go unnoticed in  large classes.
  • Stronger family bonds: Spend more quality time with your children, fostering closer family relationships.
  • Enhanced focus: Spend more time on subjects that are challenging or of particular interest to the child. Particularly helpful for academically, artistically or athletically gifted children.
  • Life skills: Opportunity to teach practical life skills and values that may not be covered in a traditional school curriculum.

Although you need to formally notify and deregister your child from school, you don’t need to provide your reasons for homeschooling. They must accept your request, no matter the personal reasons.

What is the biggest disadvantage of homeschooling?

While homeschooling can be a highly rewarding experience, it’s important to understand the potential challenges and drawbacks. Homeschooling requires a significant time and financial commitment, and it can present unique educational hurdles. 

Before deciding to homeschool in the UK, it’s essential to weigh these potential disadvantages to ensure you can address and manage them effectively.

Cons of homeschooling in Britain

  • Time: There’s no way around it. Homeschooling requires a significant time commitment from parents, who must plan and deliver all lessons.
  • Financial burden: Homeschooling involves additional costs for educational materials, extracurricular activities, academic tutors and loss of income if a parent must stay home.
  • Lack of socialisation: If not managed appropriately, limited interaction with peers can affect social development and lead to feelings of isolation.
  • Limited resources: Access to specialised resources, facilities and extracurricular activities may be restricted compared to traditional schools.
  • Educational gaps: Parents may lack the expertise to teach certain subjects (especially as children get older), potentially leading to gaps in the child’s education.

Can I take my child out of school and homeschool?

Yes, you can absolutely take your child out of school and homeschool.

In the UK, parents have the legal right to educate their children at home. This is outlined in Section 7 of the Education Act 1996. The act states children must have “full-time education” suitable for their “age, ability and aptitude” as well as any special educational needs. This doesn’t necessarily involve school.

If you’re considering homeschooling, here are the key regulations to consider.

Notification

If your child is already enrolled in school, you must inform the school in writing of your decision to homeschool. They’ll remove your child’s name from the register.

If your child is at school because of a school attendance order, you’ll need your local council to formally agree before removing your child.

Local authority involvement

Local authorities may make informal inquiries to ensure a suitable education is provided. They can request information about your educational approach and may visit your home, though you are not legally obliged to allow home visits.

You must provide an education that’s suitable to your child’s age, ability, aptitude, and any special educational needs. Education must be full-time, but there is no strict definition of what constitutes “full-time” education in a homeschool setting.

Special Educational Needs (SEN)

If your child has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan, you must ensure their special educational needs are met. The local authority may review the EHC plan to ensure appropriate provision.

If your child attends a SEN school, your local council will need to formally agree to a homeschooling request. You don’t need the council’s permission if your child goes to a mainstream school, even if they’ve got an EHC plan.

Record Keeping

While not legally required, keeping detailed records of your child’s educational progress, activities, exams and assessments is beneficial, especially if questioned by the local authority.

Homeschooling in Britain: Costs and Monitoring

How is homeschooling monitored?

In the UK, local councils are responsible for ensuring homeschooled children receive a suitable education. 

While there is no formal inspection process, local authorities might make informal enquiries to check the education provided meets required standards. 

This could involve:

  • Initial contact: After deregistering your child from school, the local authority may contact you to discuss your homeschooling plans.
  • Educational evidence: You might be asked to provide information about your educational approach, curriculum and resources. Some parents choose to submit a written report or portfolio of their child’s work.
  • Home visits: Although not mandatory, some local authorities request home visits to discuss your child’s progress and review their learning environment. You can choose to meet them elsewhere if you prefer.

If your council feels you aren’t providing a suitable education for your child, they can serve a school attendance order. This means your child must attend formal education, or you’re liable for prosecution.

Does Ofsted inspect homeschooling in the UK?

Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills), does not inspect homeschooling directly. Instead, Ofsted works with local authorities to ensure they’re fulfilling their duties regarding home-educated children. 

Local authorities must have procedures in place to monitor and support homeschooling families. But the inspection of individual homeschooled children falls outside Ofsted’s remit.

What will it cost to homeschool my child?

Homeschooling comes with a variety of costs, which vary depending on your approach and resources. At the least, you’ll have to supply textbooks, revision books, pens, paper, computer software and subscriptions to online resources. 

As well as these “basics”, you should factor in:

  • Extracurricular activities: Fees for sports, music lessons, art classes and any other activities.
  • Field trips and educational outings: Costs associated with museum visits, historic houses, science centres and educational experiences such as trips abroad.
  • Exam fees: Registration fees for exam boards. For AQA (for example), fees start around £50 for GCSEs and rise to £200 for some A Level subjects. You’ll also have to register as a private candidate at a school, college or exam centre to sit exams. Here, prices range from £50 to £300 per subject.
  • Private tutoring: Hiring academic tutors for subjects where parents lack expertise, or academic coaches to improve your child’s study skills and confidence. One-to-one tuition generally starts from £40 per hour.

These costs can easily add up when homeschooling, and it’s essential to budget accordingly. While some families manage with minimal expenses, others invest significantly in their child’s education.

How much money do you get for homeschooling in the UK?

In the UK, the government doesn’t provide direct financial support for homeschooling families. Unlike some countries where homeschooling grants or subsidies are available, British parents are responsible for all costs associated with home education.

That said, some local authorities may offer access to resources or support services, such as online learning platforms, access to local leisure centres or borrowing resources from libraries. They might also run groups and get-togethers for homeschooling families. 

These offerings (financial or otherwise) are at the discretion of your local council, so it’s best to check with them directly.

What are the requirements for homeschooling in the UK?

To homeschool in the UK, parents don’t need formal teaching qualifications. But you must provide a “full-time education” suitable to your child’s age, ability, and any special educational needs.

Here are the basic requirements:

  • Deregistration: If your child is enrolled in school, you must notify the school in writing of your intention to homeschool.
  • Education plan: You should have a plan or approach for how you’ll educate your child. This doesn’t need to be a formal document and you don’t have to follow the national curriculum, but having a clear idea will help satisfy local authority inquiries.
  • Regular monitoring: You should monitor your child’s progress and adjust your approach to ensure they’re learning effectively. Your council might make an “informal enquiry” to check you’re providing a suitable education. So these documents will help satisfy any checks.
  • Special Educational Needs (SEN): If your child has an EHC plan, you must ensure their special educational needs are met. The local authority may review the EHC plan to ensure appropriate provision.

Homeschooling in Britain: Subjects and Qualifications

What subjects are compulsory for homeschooling?

There aren’t any compulsory subjects for homeschooled children. 

Nonetheless, to ensure you’re providing a suitable education, it’s advisable to teach at least the core subjects of Maths, English Language and Science. While the UK government doesn’t mandate a specific curriculum for homeschooling, parents are expected to provide a broad and balanced education suitable for their child’s age and aptitude.  

So for younger children in Key Stage 1 (ages 5-7), this might include fundamental subjects such as English, Maths and basic science. As children progress to Key Stage 2 (ages 7-11), their studies become more detailed, with a stronger emphasis on reading, writing, more advanced maths skills, and subjects like history, geography, and foreign languages.

In Key Stage 3 (ages 11-14), students deepen their knowledge and explore more complex concepts. By Key Stages 4 and 5, the curriculum becomes more specialised. At GCSE, students focus on core skills in English, Maths and Science, as well as four or five additional subjects. By the time students reach AS and A Levels, this narrows to three or four subjects in total.

What exams do homeschoolers do?

Homeschoolers in Britain have the option to take standardised exams. They aren’t compulsory though, so this is up to you.

Homeschooled children don’t take SATs (Standard Assessment Tests) at the end of Key Stages 1 and 2, as these exams assess school rather than pupil performance. Cognitive Abilities Tests (CATs) and 11 Plus exams (used for entry into selective schools and grammar schools) are optional. They can be taken if parents choose.

For older students, GCSEs are the most common qualifications taken by homeschoolers at the end of Key Stage 4. These exams are important for further education and employment opportunities, as many jobs and post-16 qualifications ask for minimum grades. 

Post-16, A Levels are popular if your child plans to attend university. BTECs or apprenticeships are also great options for students who’d benefit from a more vocational route.

Do homeschooled children have to take GCSEs?

Homeschooled children don’t have to take GCSE exams. Even so, it’s advisable.

While GCSEs aren’t compulsory for homeschooling, they are the most widely recognised qualification at the end of Key Stage 4. They serve as a standard benchmark for academic achievement, used by educational establishments and employers alike.

With this in mind, most homeschoolers opt to take GCSEs (or IGCSEs) in at least the core subjects of Maths, English and Science. Many also take GCSEs in areas of interest, like History, Geography or Modern Languages.

Where do homeschoolers take GCSEs?

Homeschooled students can sit their GCSEs at independent test centres or local schools and colleges that take private candidates. 

Independent test centres accept private candidates, providing a supportive environment tailored to homeschooled students. Some local schools and colleges also allow homeschooled students to take exams alongside their enrolled peers. Availability, prices and policies vary though, so it’s important to register well in advance.

Homeschooling in Britain: Future Prospects

Is homeschooling common in the UK?

Homeschooling is increasingly common in the UK. According to the latest government data, 126,000 children were homeschooled during the 2022-23 academic year. This was up from 116,000 children in 2021-22.

This growing trend shows more and more parents are seeing the benefits of taking direct responsibility for their children’s education – opting for homeschooling as an effective alternative to traditional schooling environments.

In terms of the specifics, the numbers increase as children get older. While only 3% of home-educated children are in Year 1, around a third are in Year 10 or 11.

The government also estimates 49% of homeschooled children are male and 51% are female. 14% of homeschooled children had SEN support while 5% had EHC plans – which roughly matches the national average.

Do UK universities accept homeschooling?

Yes, UK universities accept homeschooled students. When considering applications, universities focus on students’ qualifications and achievements rather than their educational background. 

As we’ve seen, homeschoolers often take GCSEs and A Levels, which are the main criteria for university admissions. If you’ve taken alternative exams, check with your university what qualifications they accept.

Does Oxford accept homeschoolers?

Yes, the University of Oxford accepts homeschooled students. Like other top universities, Oxford evaluates candidates based on their qualifications and merits. 

For entry to Oxford, homeschooled students must meet the same academic standards as those from traditional schools. This includes strong performance in GCSEs, A Levels or equivalent qualifications. 

If you’re considering an Oxbridge application and aiming for the very top grades, don’t miss our guide to acing your A Level exams and how hard it really is to get AAA.

Are homeschooled students more successful in the UK?

Determining whether homeschool UK students are more successful is complex. The Department of Education doesn’t collect data on exam results and career progression for home-educated children. So we can’t compare directly.

However, studies from America suggest that homeschooled students outperform their peers both academically and socially. This research indicates that homeschooled children develop as well or better socially, emotionally, and psychologically than those attending conventional schools. They often exhibit strong self-motivation, independence and critical thinking skills, contributing to their success in higher education and beyond.

The increasing number of UK homeschool students and their acceptance into leading Russell Group universities reflects growing recognition of homeschooling’s effectiveness. Many homeschooled students thrive in formal academic settings and pursue successful careers, suggesting that homeschooling (done right!) provides a solid foundation for future success.

Do you need help with your child’s education? At Achieve Learning, we provide dedicated one-to-one tuition for 11 Plus Exams, GCSE Maths and English, as well as academic coaching and reading support. Get in touch with our expert team for a free, no-obligation chat about your child’s needs.

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