How many hours a week should my child be learning?
How do we know we are doing enough hours?
What does full time Home Education mean?
These are tricky question to answer as there is no specific answer set out in law or Government guidance. There is case law, and vague references within EHE guidance, but let’s try to explain it in terms that make sense to our day to day lives. If you want to read the case law info have a read of THIS
A child in school is there for 200 out of 365 days, they are there 8.30 until 3 or 3.30 each of those days, but during that time they have a break and a lunch break, they spend time walking between classes, time to settle for the teacher, time waiting for the teacher to get to them if they need help etc. We estimate that education could only be 3-4 hours a day, of which much of it is not individualised or suitable to each child’s requirements. Using a generous estimate of 5 hours a day multiplied by the 200 days in school, equals 1000 hours a year. But, and this is a really important factor, a child receiving one to one education is going to be able to learn the same content far quicker and easier than a child in a class of 30 with one teacher.
Home Education isn’t school hours, it isn’t restricted to school days or terms, most Home Educators say that education is happening during all waking hours. Versus a schooled child who needs time to decompress at weekends, evenings and holidays, they don’t want to be going around museums, or discussing Newton, or writing a story when they’ve been doing it all week in school.
Using the previous calculation of the time a schooled child receives education and averaging it out over a full year, a Home Educated child should be receiving the equivalent of 2-3 hours of education a day. Note we say ‘equivalent’ this, as mentioned before is because a Home Educated child could easily learn an hours worth of school work in 15-20 minutes, easily cutting the learning time down to an hour or so a day.
But the LA isn’t going to accept that as suitable, to them that does not equate to full time learning. This is why we suggest writing a report when asked about the provision, this gives you the opportunity to fully explain your approach and how the education is full time. We shall give some examples later on…
Not all Home Educators do formal learning, they don’t sit to the table, or have workbooks etc, they learn through doing, discussion and life experience. Even those with a formal style will still be learning outside of the formal learning. Being able to adequately explain this is vital, it will really help the LA get a picture of what you do and be satisfied that things are ok.
Examples of what you could say (in your report):
(PLEASE NOTE not to copy these examples, and be aware these are only brief examples of how to describe full time, they are not examples of how to demonstrate all of the content being provided, please do read our guide on how to write a full report).
The educational provision is full time, spread out throughout the whole 365 days a year, whereas schooled children are only in school for 200 days a year. Some of our time is formal, using workbooks and educational websites, this is usually a few mornings each week. The rest of the time is spent following Bob’s interests. We visit museums and educational venues at least once a week, followed up by a discussion and often further research once home. Twice a week Bob attends a Home Education social group, as well as a Home Education languages group once a fortnight. Bob enjoys late night discussions on world events. These often lead him into further educational opportunities.
We follow school term times, though do not use formal learning, Andy is much more suited to informal options. Often based around their current interest, the last few weeks this has been around World War II. They currently spend around 2 hours each day researching by googling for information, watching Youtube videos, reading books we own and have borrowed. They have spent time chatting with our elderly neighbour who has explained what it was like to live through the war. Andy has created art work and written pieces, one of which was a pretend diary of a soldier. We follow this style throughout his interests.
We follow a structured week as this is most suitable to Danni, this is spread out throughout the year as a long summer break does not suit them, instead we spread their learning out throughout the year. Therefore we do 3 full mornings every week on formal lessons, 2 mornings learning about a topic of interest, one afternoon at Home Ed group, plus swimming lessons twice a week. We have noticed that the planned lessons we use recommend a teacher takes 1-2 hours to cover the content, whereas Danni is covering it all in 30-40 minutes as there are not lots of distractions. (Continue to discuss how this is suitable time to cover the content fully)
Ozzy’s education takes up a large proportion of their time. Learning is incorporated through daily life tasks, and all activities they take part in. For example Ozzy recently asked where water goes after washing their hands, we spent a lot of the week using that as a basis for building a dam in the garden, discussing the rain cycle and water table and using Youtube to watch videos. Ozzy learned about liquid measurements in imperial and metric. They drew pictures and wrote up some of their learning as diagrams, incorporating flow charts. Ozzy is constantly asking questions and if we are not researching something together they are reading one of their many books, playing with friends or writing stories.
Note, you do not have to make a reference to school, we are using them as examples especially with school focused EHE departments, it can help them understand.
The key is ensuring your child is learning what is needed to follow any path they choose. The number of hours needed will vary. A child studying 5 GCSEs will need to put in considerable hours of learning similar to a child focusing on functional skills whilst building an art portfolio, though the learning will look very different.
As you, the parent are responsible for the suitability of the provision, you are also responsible for responding to the LA enquiries. Using our guide will help you with that. A brief paragraph similar to those above is all that is required for demonstrating a full time education.
There is a government consultation about proposed new EHE (England) guidance. We will be producing a guide ASAP to help you respond, so no need to rush in.
For now, have a read, BUT DO NOT PANIC ABOUT THE PROPOSED CHANGES: