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Homeschooling: good for your child & your finances?

A good education will teach your child all the life skills they need to succeed and set them up for the future. A home education can be just as rewarding as sending them to school. We investigate if it makes financial sense.

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The decision to let your child study at home rather than at school is a big one, and could play a major part in how they develop academically and as a person.

Homeschooling your child and teaching them yourself can be a rewarding experience for you both, but it is a big step, not least because of its financial impact.

We look the cost of home learning and how it can both cost and save you money.

Can you get government help?

In short. No.

The Department for Education makes it clear that if you choose to teach your children at home you will have to take on financial responsibility for their education.

However, just because there are no grants or financial incentives does not mean that teaching your child at home is expensive.

Why it is cheaper than you think

On the face of it sending your child off to school is free - you do not have to pay an entrance fee or tuition fees, but what about all the extra expenses?

If you choose to teach your children at home, many of these costs can be eradicated, or at least controlled fully by you.

During the course of their education you could save thousands, while potentially giving them a far better learning experience.


The cost of getting them to and from school, school trips, textbooks and after school care can quickly stack up.

No more uniform

If your child is sprouting fast you could find that their old uniform needs replacing every year, or sooner! The cost of uniform alone can leave your wallet more than £100 lighter each summer.

No more school bus

If you do not live within walking distance of your nearest school, the cost of paying for transport, like buses or trains, can quickly rack up and cost a lot of money over the course of an academic year.

Driving your child to and from school may well eat up a lot of time and money during the year too. Teaching your child at home cuts out this expenditure.

School trips

School trips can undoubtedly be useful learning experiences, but they can also be very expensive ones.

Home-schooling your child does not mean they have to miss out on days out but it gives you control over the cost. There are many places you can take them for free, where they can learn and have fun.

Free teaching resources

Now that we live in a digital age it is easier than ever to find free or cheap teaching resources for home-schooling.

There are plenty of online resources you can access and make use of for free, or fairly cheaply.

Here are some you can use as a starting point:

Along with these, if you are homeschooling your child you have the opportunity to make use of your local library and museums, most of which are free in the UK.

Follow the links below to work out where your nearest library is, or where you can find the UK's best museums:

GOV.UK's website

Find a Library

The Independent: 50 of the UK's best museums

The Guardian: 20 best free museums

What is the cost of learning at home?

While there are clearly financial advantages to home-schooling, there are plenty of costs involved as well.

Giving up work

Giving up your time to educate your child will have a big financial impact on your life, as it is likely you will have to give up your job and salary.

If you have a partner you will need to rely on their income to support your family, so giving up your career to home-school your child is a decision that needs to be thought through properly, especially as you will not be able to rely on getting help from your local council.

Think about how able you are to live on one person's income and work out whether teaching your child at home is cost-effective or something you can afford.

You could also find that giving up work could impact the support and benefits you get from the government, so you need to check this before you make a decision.

One silver lining is that, if you stop working altogether, you will not have to pay any income tax.


Stopping work could affect other areas of your finances, especially if you receive extra work benefits like life insurance or a company car.

Stocking your homeschool

With more and more learning resources hosted online the amount you can expect to spend on stationery for homeschooling might be lower than it once was, but you will need to ensure you have the best broadband package at home.

Home education resources and textbooks can be expensive, especially if you cover a number of different subjects like English, maths, science, history, geography and more besides.

If you decide to educate your children at home you will have to pay for all these resources out of your own pocket.

Sports activities

While sports lessons may be free in schools, like swimming lessons at your local pool, if you home educate your child you will have to foot the bill.

One solution could be to encourage your children to join local sports teams and clubs, so they can join in team activities outside the classroom and you will not have to buy all the equipment.

Paying to sit exams

One aspect of home education you need to consider is that, because your child is not enrolled at school, they will be considered a private candidate when it comes to exam time.

This means you will not only have to find an independent exam centre (or willing school) where they can sit their exams - you will also have to pay for them.

The cost of exams for a specific subject can range from around £30 to more than £100, so it is not an expense to be sniffed at. For example:

  • The total qualification fee for a maths GCSE from the exam board AQA would set you back £32.80.

  • Edexcel's entry fee to take its Science GCSE exams is £33.65.

  • Paying for your child to sit OCR's English GCSE exams in 2015/16 would leave you a further £33.60 out-of-pocket.


If you are home educating your child, make sure you think about exams and their cost well in advance.

For a full list of each board's examination fees, follow the following links:

AQA website

Edexcel website

OCR website

Home education vs. private school

If you do not think state school is right for your child, you will be left with two main alternatives:

  • Teaching them at home

  • Sending them to an independent or private school that charges fees

There is no question that educating them at home is the cheaper option.

Sending your child to private school means you will be able to keep your job, as opposed to giving it up to teach your child at home - so perhaps the only time private school could be the better financial choice is if you earn a lucrative salary.


In the UK, average independent school fees cost £13,000 a year while homeschooling, thanks to the free resources available, can be done for next to nothing and the biggest requirement is your time.

US home education compared to the UK

In the UK, parents have been able to teach their children at home for decades.

In the US, home education has had a chequered past. In many states it either used to be illegal or its legality was not properly defined.

Teaching children in the home can now be done legally in all states, though as recently as 2008 California tried to ban it (before changing its mind).

While home education has become more acceptable in both countries, it is still only carried out by relatively few families and is likely to remain a contentious issue - and one not financially backed by local authorities.


The 1944 Education Act states children must learn "either by regular attendance at school or otherwise", meaning parents could teach them at home if they wanted.

Help stretch your budget a little further by making the most of your savings.

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