I'm cleaning out old computer files, and came upon this article by Paula Rothermal of the University of Durham. Unfortunately, I no longer have any idea where I acquired this comparison of home- and school-educated children in the UK.

For reasons of copyright, the above link goes only to an abstract of the paper, but I'm posting a few interesting quotes that I believe fall into the "fair use" category.

School is not compulsory in the United Kingdom, contrary to some official notices....In the UK it is not necessary either to register as a home-educator or to ask anyone’s permission.

Parents of the home-educated children in this age group tended to have planned for home-education from birth, or at least from very early on; thus the parents had generally given more attention to their children’s early learning than they might perhaps have done had they known that the children would soon be starting school. The parents were thus not awaiting the ‘big day’ when school began and responsibility for their children’s education would be delegated to an external institution. Unlike the situation for schoolchildren, for the home-educated cohort, there was no right or wrong time to learn and it may well be that the most efficient way in which to gain skills and knowledge for life, would be to permit children to acquire information at their own pace.

As the children commonly spent their time with either one parent or the other, parental influence appears to have been an important contributing factor in the children’s exceptionally high…scores. In the same way that [other studies] found that the effect on children of a good teacher was enduring, so the home-educated children’s continued high scores may have been the result of the strong bond with their parents. Just as…teachers responded better to children whose company they most enjoyed, it would seem that the parents were those who had the most invested in their children’s development; this pattern created the cycle of positive attribution.

All the children scored good marks, whatever their background and family structure…. [T]he home educated children from the lower socio-economic groups scored significantly higher than those with professional parents. The most obvious reason for their doing well, and one that is supported by evidence from other sources, is that home-educated children are, at least amongst their own ranks, free from the stigma of being poor, simply because they are not learning in an environment where affluence and labelling are an issue.

[S]tarting school at a later age may well have no detrimental effect upon learning skills. The results from the present study suggested that a delayed school start date may have very positive effects.


The findings lent support to the idea that parental input was not just a useful support tool, but that indeed, it could substitute for professional assistance.


The findings in the present research, underpinned as they are by previous research, provide support for the value of informal settings in children’s education and inherently questions the ‘accepted’ wisdom that children need school to learn.

[I]nterviews with home-educating families show that while for many home educators, raising a family on the equivalent of one income is a burden, the families valued the freedom to live according to their own ideals and relished the flexibility to, ‘do what we want, when we want.’ It seems that happiness, a feature of home-education…may well extend to raising the children’s levels of learning.

Research focusing on older home-educated children suggests that the findings reported here of high attainment continue through Key Stages 1 and 2 [UK educational terms, roughly ages 5-7 and 7-11]. However, in view of the overall indication that home-educated children are learning on an entirely different trajectory from schoolchildren it is perhaps unhelpful to think of these children in terms of Key Stages. Expectations and outcomes for these children may have little in common with those anticipated from schoolchildren. Indeed, while the phrase ‘home-education’ suggests an education taking place in the home as opposed to the school, this is incorrect. Home-education is best described as an individually tailored education (ITE) whereby the children work from a home base but often spend a large amount of their time away from the home itself, instead attending group get-togethers and activities, visiting parks, museums, friends’ houses, libraries and ‘after school’ groups. In general this is an education gained through ‘living and doing.’

And the conclusion:


Insofar as the PIPS Reception data was concerned, the home-educated four and five-year-olds demonstrated high levels of ability and good social skills. The children appeared to benefit from an education that was flexible and tailored to their individual needs and interests. Another important factor was the attention given to them by their families. In particular, parental input and interest was high. Learning appeared to be on a gentle incline from birth, a process that appears to have suited the children very well.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, September 3, 2006 at 6:07 pm | Edit
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I wonder how long Home Schooling will remain unregulated in Britain now that the tentacles of the EU are spreading into all corners of life there.

Posted by Dad-o on Monday, September 04, 2006 at 3:58 pm
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