Home Schooling a Child Outside of the UK

The relative freedom and flexibility of home schooling regulation in the UK means that parents who move or travel abroad with their children are sometimes surprised to discover stricter laws regulating home schooling in other countries. Parents who teach their children via home schooling have to follow the rules of the land they are living in, so English children must still follow the education laws of, say, France if living in France. Every country in the world takes a different view and has different rules (or none at all) regarding home schooling.

While home education is also permitted in a huge number of other countries, this is not true of every country so parents should check before deciding to move abroad, if this is a key issue. A good place to find out a specific country’s laws and regulations regarding home schooling is that country’s consulate in the UK. If unavailable, it is best to try to confirm the policy with the country directly. This article looks at the issues involved with home schooling abroad, and briefly describes the local policies in some popular destinations for UK families.

Expatriates Educating Their Children Abroad

The decisions that expatriates, people who go to live abroad, make about their children’s schooling usually depend on several factors. If the child was already home schooled, and it is permitted in the new home country, most parents will continue to teach their child within the home.

If a child was previously learning in a mainstream school in the UK, however, and parents either have to, or decide to, move abroad, this is where other options are usually considered. These may include home schooling, along side other alternative options such as choosing to either enrol your child into a UK boarding school, registering a child in a local school in the new home country where lessons are taught in the local language, or finding an international school (usually privately run and thus requiring the payment of school fees) where lessons are generally taught in English.

Making Decisions About Educating Children Abroad

Where parents have fewer options, because of financial constraints or limited availability of types of schooling, for example, the choice is usually between a local school where lessons are taught in the local language, which obviously will not, in some countries, be English, or home schooling. Often this choice depends on the time a family is moving away from its home culture.

A short move might mean parents prefer the home teaching option since it allows children to stay up to date with the curriculum taught by their school in the UK; home schooling in this situation can involve bridging the gap between leaving and returning to UK life. However, sometimes families who move abroad for longer prefer to choose to educate their child in a local school since this can aid the process of settling into a new country, including boosting language ability if the country’s mother tongue is not English.

Basic Information About Home Educating Children Abroad in Popular Destinations

In Australia, home education is legal and quite popular. In Canada, home education is also legal and, following on from the American trend towards home schooling, more and more popular, although still very much an option for a minority of Canadian families. In France, home teaching is also permitted, but the home teaching process is monitored and involves strict restrictions.

For Cypriots living in Cyprus, home education is illegal – children have to attend school between the ages of 6 and 15 but, for some ex-patriots, home education is both allowed and a popular option. In Germany, home schooling is not permitted. Other countries in which home education is legal include Israel, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden, as well as many other countries – check the details of the particular country you are interested in, even if listed here as regulations can rapidly change. Home education is also legal in the USA, where it is perhaps most popular, but regulations and monitoring systems differ according the state of residence.