Back to (which) School?


[Second in a ‘Return To School’ series]

Readers may already have guessed that the reason for this series is our decision to try college based on a few of the reasons given in the first post.

In the UK, if home educating families decide to return to school or college, their local education authority (LEA) is obliged to support them in finding a suitable placement. Obviously, ‘suitable’ has different definitions for parents and the LEA. It’s worth noting that some families originally go down the home education route because they don’t agree with a school offered by the LEA. This may be due to distance from home, reputation, etc.

Another issue is frequency of attendance. Some prefer flexi-schooling, a part-time schooling system not very popular with LEAs and traditional schools, but one that gives families a much-needed flexibility to support their child at home if, for example, dealing with anxiety issue, or if the child has other regular engagements eg competitive sports, performing arts, etc.

It can, therefore, be difficult to find a good fit, which makes it all the more fabulous when a place is found that the whole family feels comfortable with.

Back at the question – which school?

The following are the factors that influenced our choice (you may follow our posts, if you wish):

  • Speciality: If your child has a particular passion or wants to follow a definite career path, you may find it worthwhile narrowing options to specific schools or colleges. University Technical Colleges (UTCs) take in STEM-minded kids from age 14 (ours start from age 13 and will go lower to age 11 in 2020). A handful of UTCs offer courses in the Arts. Many home ed kids also apply to the Brit School, a college specialising in performing arts, media, etc.
  • Distance: Self explanatory
  • School or College: if your child is aged 14+, college may be a better option because it’s more ‘grown up’. Generally, colleges, whether UTCs, further education colleges, etc accept kids aged 14 – 19, covering the GCSEs and A Levels years. Schools, in my view, should only be considered for Year 7 entry because your child is starting with a new batch of intakes rather than being the new kid in school.  Home ed families do sometimes prefer to send their 14+ to schools but be aware that schools may be reluctant to take in a child so close to GCSEs due to the fear of an unknown student’s impact on their results.
  • Entrance criteria: If starting Year 7, 11+ in order to go to grammar schools is an option. It can even be argued that home ed kids do better because they have time to study. If not keen on tests, application to the LEA for a place in a state school is necessary. As at 2019, UTCs do not require entry tests, and many other colleges only do assessment interviews.
  • Academic record: Self explanatory. Do your research. Information can be sourced from schools/colleges or googled. We are not too bothered about this because, having home educated for over eight years, the plan is to find a well-run institution to share the load as the kids prepare for GCSEs.
  • Extras: My kids love making and fixing things so finding a college that has accessible engineering departments with facilities to pick up and hone skills like carpentry, welding, etc is good thing.
  • Apprenticeships and industry experience: In the current market, that little bit extra is needed to excel either in the job market or at entrepreneurial pursuits, and networking is as important as knowledge. Most colleges, especially UTCs, are sponsored by industry giants who not only offer the best kids placements but play a significant part in syllabus compositions.
  • Last, but certainly not the least, is the Readiness and Keenness of your child: Over the years, we toyed with the idea of schooling but they were neither keen nor ready. They wouldn’t even consider the idea until a year ago. You can drag a kid to school but you can’t make them learn or be part of the community. They have to want to be there.

I’ve possibly left a few things out and may pop back to amend or add.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marigona
    Sep 20, 2019 @ 10:02:11

    My daughter currently is home schooled I am trying to put her back to school however she is rejected because she is in year 10. Does anybody has any advice or or support that can help me on this matter. My daughter wants to return back to mainstream School.

    Many Thanks



    • Phoenix
      Sep 21, 2019 @ 05:52:11

      Hi Marigona, thank you for getting in touch. I’m sorry and surprised that your daughter was rejected based on her school year, after all, she still had two years to GCSE. My son started in Year 10 after almost a decade of home education and is currently doing well. Did you apply to the school directly or did you go through your local education authority (LEA)? I suggest getting your LEA involved unless you and/or your daughter want a particular school that’s oversubscribed. Will you consider a college or a 14-19 institution? Possibly late for the 2019/2020 session but approaching a few places may bring positive results. Have a look at Fiona’s 14-19 link ( You may also want to have a look at University Technical Colleges ( if she’s technically inclined. Do let me know how you get on. Best wishes, Phoenix



  2. Katrien
    Sep 06, 2019 @ 08:26:29

    Hi Phoenix,
    I think you meant to write Year 7 instead of Year 9?



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