Homeschool or Home Education? Does it matter?

The topic of whether it matters whether we call what we do “home education” or “homeschool” keeps coming up, and I keep seeing people say that it doesn’t matter at all, it’s all the same thing.

Is it?

In fact I believe it does matter because technically and legally, the clause which enables us in law to educate at home is the phrase “education at school or otherwise“.

By definition, home education is not school.

Local governmental authorities usually refer to what we do as “Elective Home Education”.

I do understand why the term “homeschool” has become popular – firstly American homeschool is much larger and more visible than British home education, and so even governmental bodies use the term (either misunderstanding the difference and legal significance, or purposely trying to muddy the waters, for their own nefarious purposes. I couldn’t say which).

Secondly, whereas years ago the majority of British home educators did so primarily for philosophical reasons and never tried school, I think I would be right in saying that now, the majority come to home education after trying school.

I do feel though that, once a term is so well established in the vernacular, it would be like holding back the tide to try and stop its encroachment, and if we haven’t already seen the term homeschool/ homeschooling used in legal settings in the UK, we may soon.

The danger with such a term, I think, is that it could be used to insist upon a certain type of education which includes formal, school-like book work at desks in a fixed location.

Such a course could be disastrous and would mean the end of home education as we know it and the end of freedom in education, effectively outlawing unschooling or free-range parenting.

Hopefully I am unnecessarily catastrophising, imagining the worst case scenario. But it does seem to me to be a very slippery slope.


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