A small percentage – less than 0.4% – of school children in the UK are home schooled.  But that number is rising and the list of accomplished people who were home-schooled goes some way to explaining why. It is easy to dismiss the domestic education of 13 US Presidents, Thomas Edison and Virginia Woolf as a 19th Century social norm but not quite as easy to explain the success of Condoleeza Rice or Emma Watson on that basis. Like him or loathe him, it is also difficult to deny that Julian Assange is smart and he is another product of home schooling.
Emma Thompson and Greg Wise removed their daughter from the ‘sausage factory’ pressures of her London school at 15 and have been educating her at home since. It is not a way of life for the faint of heart and requires an endless supply of creative ideas from the parents and willingness and diligence from the children. It is very popular and widespread in the USA and Canada, illegal in Germany and frowned upon in Spain but tolerated in the UK where parents do not have to adhere to the National Curriculum although most work towards GCSEs and A levels and many send their children to school at some point.
Like anything, home education has its disadvantages and detractors but it suits children who are too quick or too slow for their class, are bullied or inattentive or whose parents live too far away from schools that satisfy their academic, cultural or other requirements. Local councils can direct families to groups of likeminded home educators and these provide some of the social interaction that critics claim home schooled children miss.
As the trend grows, so does the requirement for learning material. Although home education is permitted in the UK, the Government is uncharacteristically restrained on the subject. Responsibility has been devolved to local councils and not all provide much information regarding study groups or even resources. Surrey is an exception and provides a helpful list of organisations that can provide remote tuition via correspondence, video or Internet.
Whilst many home schooling parents undertake the daunting task of educating their children themselves, others, with busy jobs or unpredictable routines (presumably Emma Thompson and husband Greg Wise fall into this category) choose to place the tuition in the hands of experts. My Tutor and other sites such as Tutor Hunt are popular sources of teachers, often undergraduates paying their way through university.
But if there is lots of suitable content available online, it is poorly organised and promoted. There is an opportunity there for someone. Certainly, the founders of Azoomee created their child-friendly Internet product when they found one of their children looking online for a nursery rhyme and coming across something quite different. Though Azoomee was not designed specifically with home education in mind, it will certainly be a tool of interest to parents and perhaps inspire a new round of investment in products and platforms that can serve this growing market.