Only one child in Iceland home schooled

It seems there is little interest in home-schooling in Iceland, despite a change of law in 2008 to make it easier. Despite the change the requirements and restrictions on home-schooling are still very tight.

The 2008 law on elementary education allows parents and guardians the right to claim an exemption from compulsory schooling for their child(ren) and to educate them instead at home. The decision to approve or deny such requests lies with local governments, because elementary schools have been the responsibility of local authorities since 2008. There are many restrictions on home-schooling.

For example, parents are required to submit a full home-schooling curriculum for approval and submit evidence of childrens’ learning achievement. The parent also needs to be a qualified teacher, as well as being supervised with the teaching and development of the teaching programme.

Since the law was changed in 2008, reports that the Ministry of Education has received only one notification of home-teaching instead of elementary school attendance. That notification related to one child in the 2008-2009 school year.

In comparison, some 1.5 million American children are home-schooled; which is three percent of all children. There is a much greater tradition of home-schooling in the USA than in Iceland.

Before local authorities took over, it used to be the Ministry of Education which granted applications for home-schooling. The only time the ministry ever issued such permission was for four children in the year 2004. The contract was renewed on behalf of two children in the school year 2007-08.

One home-schooling application was rejected because the parent’s teaching qualifications were not deemed acceptable. Before 2008 the ministry received several enquiries about home schooling which did not lead to formal applications being made.

The figures on home-schooling do not include children taught at home because of illness or due to suspension from school.

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