Top reason to homeschool in the UK – School anxiety

School anxiety – The driving force behind the surge in homeschooling in the UK

As schools around the country open their doors for the new school year, an alarmingly large proportion of students are missing from class. In August the BBC reported, “More than one in five children in England are frequently missing school, data shows, in a sign attendance is still struggling to get back to pre-pandemic levels.”

Many of these students and families are looking at alternative options for education and this is evident in the increasing count of students opting to homeschool in the UK. While a range of factors contribute to this trend, the top reason to homeschool appears to be school anxiety. As students and their families grapple with mounting pressures within the traditional education system, many are opting for a more personalised and less stressful educational experience.

An analysis of over 1,220 UK based families enrolled with the UK’s largest online learning provider, Wolsey Hall Oxford, has highlighted the key reasons more and more families are opting for homeschooling with nearly a fifth, 18.6%, citing ‘school anxiety’ as their number one reason.

Wolsey Hall Oxford principal, Lee Wilcock, stated “Over the past year, we have witnessed a remarkable surge in homeschool enquiries and admissions here in the UK, which we attribute largely to what we have termed ‘school anxiety’”

“School anxiety is making life a misery for many children and their families, and it is important to understand and discuss the issues behind it and explore what can be done to help” he said.

“Clearly the question of how to support families in this situation with informed assessments and plans is essential, while homeschooling is transformative for our many students, it is not necessarily an option every family can take up.”

Understanding school anxiety

School anxiety is a relatively new term that describes the stress and mental health challenges faced by students within the traditional education system. It encompasses a range of factors contributing to students’ anxiety levels, such as academic pressure, social stressors, bullying, and the challenges of adapting to standardised learning environments.

Academic Pressure: In recent years, the UK education system has witnessed an increase in academic demands and standardised testing. The pressure to perform well in exams can lead to significant stress and anxiety for students. The fear of falling behind academically or not meeting high expectations can be overwhelming.

Social Stressors: Social dynamics in traditional schools can also contribute to anxiety. Students may experience peer pressure, bullying, or feelings of isolation, all of which can negatively impact their mental well-being.

Standardised Learning Environments: Traditional schools often follow a one-size-fits-all approach to education. This approach can be problematic for students who learn differently or have unique needs. The lack of individualised attention and tailored learning experiences can lead to frustration and anxiety.

Bullying: Bullying remains a pervasive issue in schools, both in-person and online. The emotional toll of bullying can be severe, causing students to feel unsafe and

Covid-19: The pandemic has also been a major factor in the increase in school anxiety.

top reason to homeschool - school anxiety
Secondary homeschooling

The rise of homeschooling

Against this backdrop of school anxiety, homeschooling has emerged as an appealing alternative for many families in the United Kingdom. Here’s how homeschooling addresses these concerns:

Personalised Learning: Homeschooling allows for a highly individualised approach to education. Parents or guardians can tailor the curriculum to meet their child’s specific needs, learning style, and pace. This personalised approach can help reduce academic pressure and promote a love for learning.

Reduced Social Stressors: Homeschooled children can engage in social activities outside of traditional school settings. They can join community groups, sports teams, homeschooling groups or take part in co-op classes, providing a more controlled and supportive social environment.

Flexible Learning Environments: Homeschooling provides flexibility in terms of where and when learning takes place. This flexibility can help reduce the stress associated with rigid schedules and standardised environments. Students can study at the time, place and pace that is right for them.

Enhanced Safety: Homeschooling offers a safer learning environment for children who have experienced bullying or feel unsafe in traditional schools. Being in a supportive and nurturing home environment can have a positive impact on a child’s mental health.

The ‘main reason for homeschooling’ data relates to 1220 UK enrolments with Wolsey Hall Oxford over the period Feb 22 – Feb 23