Children in the Cayman Islands can be home schooled with prior approval from the Department of Education Services. For the 2021-22 school year it is estimated that around 150 children are being home schooled.
Like any educational programme, there is an application process and certain requirements to be met, which are discussed below.
Home schooling may be a suitable option in cases where:
- A child is wait-listed but has not yet been offered a place in a private school
- A child has learning difficulties that schools may not have the resources to deal with
- The cost of private schooling is prohibitive for low income families and/or those with multiple children
- Families travel frequently and wish to be able to take their children with them
- A child has been the victim of bullying at school
The Department of Education Services assess individual requests for home schooling on a case-by-case basis as they know there are some exceptional circumstances. They do not want children to get lost in the system. They understand that for schooling to work for some children it might need to involve the use of special services, such as Speak & Language Therapy, and this can of course be included as part of the 5 hours per day of schooling.
To Apply for Home Schooling Approval:
The Department of Education Services in the Cayman Islands now expects all applications for home schooling to be made online. See their Registration for Home schooling page where you will find the forms and submit your supporting documentation. If you need to visit Nicki Samuels at the DES then their address is 130 Thomas Russell Avenue, George Town, which is just off the Cayman National Bank roundabout.
You will be required to create a detailed Timetable which shows the subjects being covered, on which days, and at what time. This timetable would include any outside activities or online classes. You must also create an Individualised Home School Plan (IHSP) which must include:
- The child’s name, age and grade level
- Location and address of the home school
- A list of the syllabi, curriculum materials, textbooks, or plan of instruction to be used in the core subjects
- The dates for submission of semi-annual reports
- Names and qualifications of individuals providing instruction
- A statement confirming the child will be meeting compulsory educational requirements of the Education Law 2016 (Regulations)
The above must be submitted along with a cover letter explaining the reasons for the home schooling request to the Director of the Department of Education Services at 130 Thomas Russell Avenue, PO Box 910, Grand Cayman KY1-1103. The application period ends on 1st July. For parents wishing to apply after the start of the school year (end of August), written notice must be provided within 14 days of arrival to the Island. Once a family or child is a resident then the child must be registered with a school.
The Director of the Department of Education Services will inform parents if their application has been approved within 10 days of receipt. If approved, a home schooling certificate is issued, valid until the end of the school year (30th June). This must be renewed prior to expiration each year if the parent wishes to continue home schooling.
A home school cannot serve more than five students.
All applications must be submitted by July 1st for the upcoming school year.
Qualifications for Homeschoolers
Depending on the age of the child, the parent or tutor providing instruction must hold the following qualifications:
- Primary – the parent(s)/tutor must have at least a high school diploma.
- Secondary – the parent/tutor should have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. This is a recommendation and is not mandated.
The Dept. of Education Services strongly recommends that an accredited programme for home schooling be used. If you go to the www.homeschool.com website you will find lots of suggestions. Alternatively, look into the UK-based home schooling group Wolsey Hall, Oxford, or you could try K12 or Abeka. Accredited programmes such as K12 have online teachers who can help.
However, if a parent wanted to use a programme that is not accredited (which many parents choose to do), the DES will consider the programme and make a decision based on whether the curriculum meets their standards. [Finding and using an accredited programme is something many parents get worried/stressed about, and knowing there is room to use a programme that is not accredited (as long as it is approved by the DES) can sometimes set their minds at ease].
The DES requires that the school day be at least five hours long, excluding recess and lunch, and that there be at least 185 days of instruction in the school year.
The curriculum must include the areas of reading, writing, mathematics, sciences and social studies. Parents/tutors must maintain a record of attendance and submit semi-annual reports on the students’ progress to the Department of Education. If there are any changes to the programme the DES must be advised in writing.
The DES will conduct at least two site visits, one scheduled and one impromptu each year, and where necessary will liaise with the Education Quality Assessment Unit (EQAU) for assessment and reporting.
More Information and Resources
It is worth remembering that homeschooled students still have a wide variety of opportunities available to them. They are invited/allowed to participate in many competitions offered to the schools including Sea Perch, the Inter School Chess Tournament, First Robotics, the Inter School Math Competition and the Rotary Club Science Fair. There is also a wonderful community of homeschooled students who collaborate and learn from each other plus get together socially. An amazing recourse is Kathleen Spencer who has created the Cayman Homeschoolers Group along with a dedicated homeschooling website with everything you might need to homeschool in the Cayman Islands. It includes the application procedures and documents, curriculum list, resources for
tutoring/educational assessments/therapy, how to write your reports, FAQ, etc. You can also sign up to their emailing list so that you can be kept in the know on when any events and gatherings are happening. See their website here: https://homeschoolcayman.ky/ or email Kathleen on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally there is also lots of information on homeschooling in Cayman on our sister website, Cayman Parent. From the Rules, Requirements & Resources for Home Schooling, to an assessment of the Pros & Cons and a Cayman Mum’s Experience, Cayman Parent can guide you. Another useful resource to look through is a document from the Department of Education outlining what is needed, regulation-wise, for home schooling. Please see here. Please note though that for some reason many Cayman Government websites do not open when using Firefox, so please use another browser!