Non-School Nottingham

Nottingham-related groups and resources for what's often called "home education".

NEWS!! Home Education drop-in event, afternoon of Monday 27 April 2015, Nottingham Central Library, open to all.
Drop-in event details

We're lucky in Nottingham to have a thriving "home ed" community, including children and young people of all ages.

Watch out for stereotypes! The term "home education" often seems to evoke the picture of one or two lonely children in a tiny classroom in a house, with their Mum as the teacher.

Real children from the non-school world are often out and about - swimming, skating, walking in woodland, at the library, visiting museums, round at a friend's house, and almost anywhere else you might imagine. Some might get together with their peers for a study group or to share the cost of a tutor; others might be learning a skill from an adult friend.

Home-based education would usually be a more accurate term: or, as people also say, "the world is our classroom". Other phrases you might hear include child-led learning, unschooling, autonomous education, personalised education and home schooling (though that last one's more of a US term).

This is Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England, UK - not some other Nottingham. It includes things in both Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County, and also some info about Leicestershire, Derbyshire etc.

Tweets by @NonSchoolNottm

Not everything is listed here

A lot of non-school socialising doesn't show up on this page, because it's arranged among families who already know each other. (For instance, there's currently a Spanish-learning group, with a tutor shared by the families, which meets in someone's house. And there's lots of ordinary "going to visit friends".)

So, even if organised groups are not really your child's thing, it's well worth dipping a toe into one or two groups for a while, just to get to know a few other people in your area.

Opportunities to dip in and try it

It's pretty common for groups to welcome visiting families where the children are still in school, and some groups continue to run during school holidays. Finding what works for your family - be it "best school" or "best something else" - is a big thing, and we realise you might want to try out different flavours before making the leap. So feel free to enquire about visiting.

You don't have to wait till your child is "school age" to start going to non-school meetups. Babies and toddlers often come along to things - some because they have an older sibling in the group, some just so that their parents can meet other families and chat about non-school life.

Email list for local info

For more info about any events mentioned here, to find out who else is thinking of going, or if you're thinking of switching to non-school education and would like to talk it over, you might like to join the East Midlands Home Education emailing list.

If you put your city/town/village or area in the subject line when you first post to the list, there's a good chance it'll catch the eye of someone else not too far from you. But even if that doesn't happen, the list is a good place to ask questions. People are often very willing to share their own experiences.

Local groups & regular meetups
by & for home ed families

Woodland meetup

Alternate Mondays, a trip out to woodland somewhere. E.g. climbing trees, lighting a fire in a fire bowl, roasting marshmallows, rope swings, games, identifying trees etc. Different locations around Nottinghamshire. No charge.

Usually we start at 11am and stay till mid-afternoon, tea-time or whenever people have had enough. Bring packed lunch. Early meetings have mostly been 2-12 range and their parents, but teens are very welcome - perhaps check in on EMHE to coordinate all going to the same one.

Beeston meetup

"Other" alternate Mondays (i.e. not clashing with woodland trips), a meetup in Beeston. Money: all chip in to pay for hall hire.

In the hall from 1pm to 3pm, drop-in things like crafts, cooking & singing; outdoors, playing field & playground. If the weather's reasonable, we typically stay at the playground for a while after the hall's shut. No age limit but so far mostly 0-12 age range.

Monthly walking group

Currently first Friday of the month. Hiking off road, up hill and down dale, 3 to 4 hours plus, taking packed lunches/hot flasks etc, out whatever the weather.

Map reading, compass skills and natural navigation, wildlife, landscape history/archaeology and geology as we go, maybe a stop at a tearoom :-) Dogs welcome.

Contact Vicky: email v dot mcmillan at ntlworld dot com.

Pushchair-friendly walks

Outdoor walk suitable for little legs and buggies, at different locations such as Attenborough Nature Reserve, Shipley Park or Wollaton Park. Usually third Thursday in the month, subject to weather. Meetup time typically 11am or 12 noon. Slowish pace, with time for enjoying chat and puddle-splashing!

All ages welcome, no charge. The children's age range so far has been about 0 to 9, inc in slings as well as buggies. The older ones haven't seemed bored by the slow pace - there are usually opportunities for a bit of tree climbing or pond-paddling as we go.

New people are very welcome, and we will be friendly to you! Lots of us hadn't met each other either before the first walk back in October 2012. You can say hello on the EMHE list.

Nottingham city centre ice skating meetup

At the ice rink in Nottingham once a month in the afternoon, currently second Wednesday in the month. There's typically 30 or more of us there (as well as school groups and other members of the public - it's not a closed session). We get a discount similar to the schools' discount.

During the first part of the session, the end of the rink is reserved for young children. The rink has push-along penguins for young beginner skaters, and plastic cars for the youngest ones to get a ride in. So the age range for this session is toddlers to adults.

Usually some of the parents skate, and some sit and chat by the rink side. If you want to meet other parents to chat with while your children are on the ice, say hello on EMHE beforehand and we'll look out for you. If you don't want to go on the ice but know your children need a hand, do ask - there may be an older child or another parent happy to skate with them.

(We generally skip August, as the school holidays mean the ice is more crowded than usual.)

Fun Club, Stapleford, Nottingham

East Midlands Christian Home Educators' Group (a.k.a. Fun Club) meets once a month on the first Tuesday of the month, at the Baptist Church in Stapleford. Time: 10am - 1.30pm-ish.

We have planned activities and visiting speakers/workshops. We have activities for 3-4 years up to about 13. We offer the first visit for free and then it's a monthly visit fee... or if you decide you want to keep coming regularly, then a 6 month membership is available to help cover running costs.

It's a packed lunch most of the time and we eat together, or there is sometimes a shared lunch (e.g. Christmas and Easter) where everyone brings food to share.

Home Ed Teens Art & Craft Group

We meet monthly at the Bestwoods Estates Community Centre, Gainsford Cresent, NG5 5HT.

People are welcome to bring Art and/or Craft materials if they would like to. Currently there is no charge for the session.

Due to the nature of some activities/equipment, the recommended age range is 11+.

For more information including date of next meeting, please email autumnchild13 {at} yahoo {dot} com.

Home Ed Warhammer Group

Meets in Nottingham the third Wednesday of the month, for both playing, and painting figures etc.

Newcomers to the game are welcome. Brief explanation of what Warhammer is. See also Games Workshop - they sell the game figures etc.

Cost: First player/painter/builder in family £3.00; second £1.50; others £1.00.

People visiting for the first time pay £1 per player/painter/builder on the first visit and then as above in advance for the rest of the sessions that term.

For more info, either ask on EMHE or email chrissmith {dot} he {at} yahoo {dot} co {dot} uk.

Gym group at Notts Gymnastics Academy

Notts Gymnastics Academy offers gymnastics training for all age groups and abilities from toddlers to adults, from beginners to Olympians. Classes run 7 days a week.

There's a class on Thursday afternoons from 1pm till 2pm, which is mainly non-school children. Age range 4½ to 12 at the moment, though 12 isn't the maximum possible - teens can also be included. As it is already popular, other classes may also become available on a Thursday.

For prices, how to book and more information, please see the Notts Gymnastics Academy web site. Their contact page is here.

Regional Youth Shakespeare Company

Professionally led drama group for ages 8 to 18, popular with young people from the non-school community. Three terms a year, at roughly the same time as the school terms. Usually there's a show at the end of each term, with the summer one being a version (adapted, but using original words) of a Shakespeare play. Rehearsals Monday afternoons during term-time in Nottingham. RYSC web site.

Climbing group

Climbing group sessions are every second Thursday of the month at Nottingham Climbing Centre, The Old Pool, Noel Street, New Basford NG7 7FR. Directions here.

There are 2 groups with 6 in each group. 1.30-2.30pm is mainly under-8s. 2.30-3.30pm is mainly over-8s. We've had children as young as 3 climbing.

The cost is £6 per session, which includes harness hire and the instructor.

"There is currently quite a big waiting list, but this ebbs and flows, and if someone can't come, I try to offer it to those on the waiting list for a one-off session. So it's worth joining the waiting list to have a try."

To get in touch, post on the EMHE list.

Tennis group

Regular Friday session, for non-school children, with professional coach. Enquire on EMHE list if you're interested.

Tuyo Circus Arts

Sometimes do "Tumbling & Trampoline" or "Trapeze" courses in the daytime, for non-school children. Tuyo Circus Arts web site.


One-off events and meetups, like a science day or a group-discounted theatre trip, will often be announced on the EMHE list. They're often on a Wednesday (but avoiding second Wednesday skating).

Nearby areas


Home educating parents of special needs/differently abled children in and around Nottinghamshire county.
Nnotts_Sheep-special email list.
Nnotts_Sheep-special page on Netmums.

Mansfield meetups

(definitely current up until Christmas 2012; likely to still be current after that, but do check)

1st and 3rd Wednesdays: General meeting with toys and crafts.
St Johns Centre, St John Street, Mansfield, Notts NG18 1QH.
10.30am to 12.30pm, £4 per family to cover room hire & crafts.

2nd Wednesdays: Outdoors depending on the weather. Details announced on Mansfield HE Group facebook page.

4th Wednesdays: Playmania Mansfield, 10.30-12.30
Playmania's own website. £4 per child.

Alternate Fridays: Ice skating at Sutton Lammas Leisure Centre, 1.30pm-4pm. £1.50 per person when "proof of HE" is shown. This can be membership of The Home Education Network or Education Otherwise, a letter from the council, or some other letter with "Home educator" on it. You'll also need to have an Everyone Active card (free) to get in.

For more details of any of the Mansfield meetups, you can email Kathryn: kathrynscorbett, at, yahoo, dot, co, another dot, uk.

Syston group, Leicestershire

Meets two Mondays a month in Syston, for activities around a theme.

Activities are all informal; we set out the room so that half is art/craft based and the other half is science. The Hall is quite big so we leave a large space at the end of the hall in case anyone feels like a run around, and all of our younger members are encouraged to explore the room as their inspiration takes them!

Sutton Lawn meetup and skating

Informal meetup in Sutton in Ashfield, every Thursday in term time.

We meet on the park and in the café from about midday onwards, and everyone is welcome. It's quite informal, with children playing on the park, some adults supervising the younger ones and others having a coffee. There is a wide age range, and some weeks we practically fill the café.

Every fortnight, we have a skating session at the Lammas Leisure Centre in Sutton, from 10.30 till midday, at a special rate for home educators.

From Nottingham, it's the Rainbow 3 bus.

Swadlincote meetup

The "Butterflies" group is no longer meeting, but another home ed mum is planning a new group to start after Easter 2013. Details via EMHE list.

Swadlincote is south of Derby.

Ilkeston: Spinning lessons, free

A home ed Mum in Ilkeston with a young child would like to get to know other home ed families, and therefore is offering to share a skill with any interested home ed people in the area: spinning! "I can drop spindel and use a spinning wheel." If you think you might be interested, please post to the EMHE list and ask for further details.

Leicester has its own site & list: Home Educators Around Leicestershire.

Derby has the Derby home ed list; see also some events run by Derby Home Ed Group.

Stoke-on-Trent has Tunstall HE Group, meeting at Tunstall Library.

Other handy links for Nottingham stuff

Nottingham City Council What's On page
Nottingham Contemporary (art gallery) What's On - full listing / Family Events
New Art Exchange Events Page
Lakeside (University Arts Centre / museum)
Green's Mill
Brewhouse Yard Museum
Nottingham Castle / "Hood in the Wood" gallery / Events & trails
Wildlife in the City (Notts Wildlife Trust site)
Wollaton Hall / Wollaton Park / Events
Wildlife in the City
Special events in Nottingham libraries
Regular children's events in Nottingham libraries (mostly for under-5s)
Yard Youth Theatre, New Art Exchange, Tuesdays & Wednesdays 5pm-7pm
Mansfield & Sutton Astronomical Society - has open evenings.

P.S. Non-school families do like to stay home sometimes too - we might be playing, cooking, coding, making music, studying for an exam or for the enjoyment of it, or watching something cool on TV or the net. Or we might just be relaxing with a book - everyone needs some down time.