Non-School Nottingham

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

We're lucky in Nottingham to have a thriving "home ed" community, including hundreds of 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).

Families organise things & support each other. Some people go into school "part way through"; some try school and switch to home ed. You don't have to be "school age" to join or visit one of our social / activity groups - there are meetups which include babies and toddlers.

This is Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England, UK - not some other Nottingham. It includes things in both Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County.

A snapshot of current activities in the Nottingham area, Autumn 2015

Cartoon. A family is having breakfast. A teenager, holding a mobile phone, announces "Aisha says let's meet at the library and practise sign language.".  An adult - the parent - replies "Well, it's science club at 2pm, then Guides, but you _could_ fit it in before those..."

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. A lot of non-school socialising is families fixing informal meetups with other people they've got to know at groups.

All of these groups or meetups are organised by or for home ed families. Some cost money, some are free.

Things can change, so this is only a snapshot! For the latest, get onto the...

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.

The list is private inasmuch as only home edders and maybe-soon-home-edders are meant to join it. People are often very willing to share their own experiences. It's a good place to ask questions such as...

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 others in your area, and they'll reply to say "oh, we're near you".

Home ed info drop-in event, open to all

In April 2015, some of us organised a Home Education info drop-in event, one afternoon at Nottingham Central Library. We had a "parents' panel" and a "young people's panel" taking questions from the audience, and info about GCSEs, flexi-schooling and special needs. The dance group performed, the Aikido group did a demo, and the film-making group showed one of their films. Lots of the local groups ran little stalls where you could find out more. Nottingham City Council had a stall and kindly paid for the space, and we also had very helpful support from the Library staff.

There are provisional plans for another similar event in spring 2016.

Opportunities to dip in to groups

Cartoon. A child is in bed reading a book. An adult - the parent - is sitting on the bed listening. The child says "It tells you how to make a T Rex out of cardboard!  Can we do that when Sam and Harry come round?"

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.



A not-very-regularly-updated Twitter account exists at @NonSchoolNottm.

Don't rely on this for upcoming events - do join the EMHE list (as described above)... but if you hang out on Twitter anyway, it does point to interesting stuff sometimes :-)


Here's a page of handy links for self-directed learning adventures in Nottingham & Notts.

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.