International Review of Education

, Volume 41, Issue 3–4, pp 285–296 | Cite as

Home educators and the law within Europe

  • Amanda J. Petrie


In education literature, there is often confusion between compulsory provision of education and compulsory schooling, falsely giving the impression that schooling is compulsory. This is not the case. Home education is permitted in some form or other in all the European countries studied except Germany.

Where the alternative of home education is denied to children who are in difficulty, such as very young children of itinerant workers, or children who are school phobic, one has to question whether the good of the individual child is being considered, rather than the ideals or convenience of education administrators. Home education is a welcome alternative to those children who need it and benefit from it and there is no evidence in academic literature or general writing on education to suggest that home education does not usually offer a good alternative to the children involved, both academically and socially.

Much research has been undertaken into home education in the US, there have been a few studies within the UK and a study in Switzerland of the laws which apply to home educators within each canton and an assessment of the numbers of home educated children in both Austria and Switzerland. In other European countries, there has been little or no research into the numbers of home educated children, the ways in which home educated children learn, efficient methods of monitoring home education, or whether home education is effective. Perhaps it is by looking more closely at these families that the effectiveness of schooling can be better assessed: fundamental questions can be asked about the added value of schooling.

My preliminary investigations indicate that, with the exception of Denmark, where it is easy for parents to set up small schools with financial help from government, there are instances of home education in all the countries studied.


Young Child European Country Efficient Method Good Alternative Fundamental Question 
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

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  • Amanda J. Petrie

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