The Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, together with the London School of Economics has supported our work in bringing philosophy to home educated children. From October 2019 we are running 4 groups for children who are educated outside the school system at the LSE.

A survey in 2017 looking at the rise in home schooling cited mental health issues and avoiding exclusion as the two most common reasons parents gave for removing children from classrooms. Dr Carrie Herbert, the founder of a charity for children outside mainstream education, said the rise in home schooling suggested "something quite tragic about the state of the education system". She said she was concerned some parents might feel pressured into home-schooling their children to avoid exclusion or prosecution over poor attendance. The proportion of pupils in home education, which between 2017 and 2018 rose most rapidly in key stage 4 (Year 10-11). In her February 2019 report, 'Skipping school invisible children' Feb 2019, the Children’s Commissioner stated that this was “possibly evidence of increased off-rolling of pupils who are about to sit their GCSEs and might negatively affect a school’s results.”

Accessing University as a home educated student can be problematic – without the need for qualifications that Universities require many students just don't bother to apply, although those that do access University education tend to do quite well as they are self-motivated and dedicated to their chosen subject. Social issues can also be a problem in students feeling like they can access University courses, and practice at philosophising together can improve students confidence as well as cognitive abilities that help across all subject areas.

By giving these students exposure to philosophy at the LSE we are helping both their educational needs as well as enabling them to become comfortable within a University setting. One of our tutors, who was home educated herself says that, "there’s a real value to being in university buildings and getting a sense of the environment in which more formal education takes place, as well as having the sessions facilitated by people who have had university-level education themselves. I would have benefitted from a group activity like this." This tutor is also an example for the children of what is attainable via home-education: raising their aspirations as well as their attainment.

We are very grateful to LSE and the CPNSS for lending us a central London venue to hold these courses.