So what am I aiming to do?

To put it very simply, my research aims to look at how home educating families view education – both school and home-based, to look at how their reasons for home educating are related to the way they go about home educating, and to look at how much choice children have in decisions about their education.

If you want more detail then read on:

Current debates over education question both the institutional structures of the school system in the UK and also the pedagogical models used within schools. Although there are no definitive figures available, the number of families home educating in the UK appears to have risen significantly in recent years, and this raises the question of the relationship of home education to school-based education and also about the rationales and methods employed by home educating families. My key research questions are therefore as follows:

  • How do home educating families position themselves in relation to institutional models of education and how does this relate to their reasons for home educating?
  • What is the inter-relationship of families’ motivations in home educating with their pedagogical models and practices?
  • To what extent are children regarded as actors in their educational experiences and involved in initial and ongoing decisions about their home education?

Following from the research questions stated above, the aims of my research are as follows:

  • To synthesise existing policy, thinking and research on home education as a principle and its practice in the UK. A comprehensive review of the literature on home education both in the UK and further afield will provide a firm basis for the creation of a theoretical and analytical framework within which home education in the UK can be examined. Simultaneously, there appears to be no current critical sociological synthesis of the literature on home education and my literature review, and the theoretical and analytical frameworks that stem from it, will therefore be valuable, both in its contribution to the wider public debate and in informing public policy on home education.
  • To document families’ reasons for undertaking home education and their pedagogical practices in doing so. As home education is currently an under-researched area, both in the UK and in a world-wide context, any data collected as to the practices and motivations of families are valuable in informing further research and form the basis for greater understanding of home education as a growing movement in UK society.
  • To produce analyses of home educating families’ rationales and practices. This will give an understanding of how home educators see themselves in relation to institutional models of education and will also allow me to assess the ways in which children are involved in the decisions and practices of home education.
  • To analyse the implications of my findings in considering both home-based and mainstream education in the UK. Potentially the growth of home education has significant implications for education structures and policies in the UK. In gaining a greater understanding of how home educating families position themselves in regard to school-based education and also of the pedagogical practices that evolve in such families it is possible not only to understand the home education movement but also to gain an insight into alternative models and practises of education that could be related to school-based learning and also to understand from a different perspective some of the issues and problems facing mainstream schooling.

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