So, how did you find out?
I guess for some people, it wasn't so much a 'finding out' as a determination not to send their child to school, whatever the law said. Are such people increasingly rare now? Do most people assume school registration isn't optional?
I first came across the legal right to home educate in Moira Bremner's Enquire Within Upon Everything, published in 1988, in which she said:
Teaching at home
There are three aspects to teaching at home: teaching a child totally at home because you have an objection to schooling, teaching a child at home because illness or absence abroad makes it impossible to attend school, and simply boosting what is done in school by doing a certain amount yourself. The reasons, and the age of the child, will affect what you teach, but there are certain principles which apply to all teaching whatever the age of the child. Those I briefly cover below.
Should parents teach their children?
Many teachers lack confidence and feel threatened by the thought of children being taught by their parents. After all, if any old parent can teach, what price the teacher's training and experience? This is understandable, but it is not only a good idea for parents to teach their children, it is essential. And I speak as a teacher.
The best and easiest time for anyone - child or adult - to learn anything is when they feel like doing it. Yet teachers simply aren't there in the vital early years and even the best teacher with the smallest class cannot notice and stimulate the special interests of every schoolchild every day. And with children, there is more to learning at the right moment than just pleasure. They are marvellous learning machines and a confident child keeps pushing back the frontiers of his or her achievements, step by step, always progressing to the next thing which can just be managed. You can see them doing it physically: walking along the tops of walls as soon as they are sure of level ground. They also do it mentally, unerringly choosing the next activity they are ready to master. If we can follow a child's leads and teach it what it wants to know, the child is learning what it is ready to learn. It doesn't matter a jot whether the activity is 'right' for its age, where learning is concerned what a child wants to learn is right for that child. If it points to words at one year old and asks what they are, it wants to read - so teach it. And if stacking bricks is its great delight, give it bricks to stack. The child is the best judge of what it needs to do.
A child learns more between birth and five than at any other time in its life - and its parents are the main teachers, even when they don't realise it. This doesn't mean that if you are educating your child at home, you sit there waiting for it to take an interest in nuclear physics. Adults have to try out topics and ideas on children and see which ones they latch onto. Only if you play them music will you discover whether they enjoy it. If nothing excites them, and you are educating a child entirely at home, some basic teaching will do no harm at all if it's done the right way.
And she goes on to explain her ideas about 'the right way', which are also very interesting and useful, but would take me all evening to type out!
So after reading this, when my stepson couldn't get on with his designated schoolteacher in 1992 when he was 8, and it looked like all his considerable intelligence and potential was going to be wasted because he was switching off from school, I deregistered him and schooled him for the 11+, which he passed three years later. I thought Tom, Ali and Zara might be ok at school but they weren't in the end, so I deregistered them in 1998 and proceeded to try and school them at home too. It was only after that, because of the UKHE list, that I learned about autonomous learning (although re-reading Moira Bremner above, I actually knew about it all along! That is what she's describing. Such a sensible woman!)
I've only just realised I've actually been home educating for 12 years out of the past 15, albeit with different children, and in very different ways.
So how did you find out about home education?