The Irish constitution recognises parents as the primary educators of their children which means that they can choose to homeschool their children. However, the law also clearly states that all children should start their education no later than the age of six.
TULSA stresses that even though some parents may choose to employ specialist teachers, tutors and online educational programmes to provide home-based learning; the overall responsibility for the education provided remains with the parents.
To start homeschooling your child in Ireland you’ll need to register with the Education Welfare Services (which forms part of TULSA). You’ll either need to do this when your child turns six, or when you remove your child from school.
The board will then arrange a meeting or phone call to discuss the formalities of registering your child for homeschooling. After the meeting, TULSA will make a decision on your suitability for homeschool and you’ll be informed of their decision in writing.
You do not have to wait for TULSA’s final approval before you withdraw your child from school. You can start homeschooling once you’ve made contact with Education Welfare Services stating your intent.
If your child has a place at school, it will be held for them until TULSA’s decision is confirmed. While you're busy with the application process, the school will remove your child’s name from the roll book for a record of attendance.
The purpose of the interview with Education Welfare Services is to ensure that you’ve given thought to all aspects of your child’s educational needs, and that you have an appropriate (physical) area in which they can learn.
If your child is in the secondary school stage they might also enquire about your plans on how you’ll help your child reach higher education if they want to.
Education Welfare Services will also provide you with information on what’s expected of you and the requirements of your child reentering mainstream education.
When choosing to homeschool, you may elect to purchase a homeschooling programme that resembles distance learning. The curriculum provider will then send you the learning materials and course schedule, but the onus will be on you or a third party tutor to work through the content and explain the concepts to your child.
An online homeschooling platform will give you (and your child) access to a structured course plan and video content that will assist you in educating your child. It is important to note that you or a third party tutor will still need to be involved in your child’s day-to-day learning, the online homeschooling platform will help explain the concepts of the lesson material to your child.
When you opt for homeschooling, you do not need to follow the National Curriculum, but the State has a duty to ensure that children receive a certain minimum education. You as the primary educator can choose how the education is provided.
The laws do not define what a “certain minimum education” is but provide broad guidelines what a child’s education should do:
The cost of homeschooling will depend on the curriculum, platform, student level and the subjects you select.
Using an online learning platform gives students access to professionally trained teachers who are specialists in their field. This alleviates some of the pressure parents may face to master and teach difficult concepts.
Some sources state that when homeschooling your child you would need to pay for the same benefits that children attending a recognised school receive. However, according to TULSA’s frequently asked questions, all children and young people on the section 14 Register are entitled to the same status as a child receiving their education in a recognised school.
Your child will therefore still have access to eye and hearing tests, and vaccination programmes etc.
The Cambridge curriculum (or International British Curriculum) is a popular homeschooling curriculum in Ireland and is chosen for its flexibility and teaching methodologies. The homeschooling costs for the Cambridge Curriculum will be influenced by the following factors:
The costing provided below is for illustrative purposes only, and will vary depending on the number of subjects, the examination venues, and the textbook formats you’ve elected to buy (digital copy vs. printed textbook).
Annual online homeschooling fees for primary stage students range between €629 and €1 802 per year for three subjects. Textbooks will cost between €82 and €165 and at this level there are no additional examination fees.
Annual online homeschooling fees for lower secondary stage students range between €2 258 and €4 324 per year for six subjects. Textbooks will cost between €391 and €489 and there are no additional examination fees for Lower Secondary years 1 and 2.
Annual online homeschooling fees for IGCSE students range between €2 436 and €4 869 per year for six subjects. Textbooks will cost between €293 and €391 and, depending on the examination centre, exam fees range between €979-€1 959 collectively.
Annual online homeschooling fees for A Level students range between €1 717 and €4 464 per year for four subjects. Textbooks will cost between €391 and €489 and, depending on the examination centre, the subject, and the exam type, exam fees range between €979-€1 959 collectively.
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