IT’S the biggest increase in the country for home education.

As reported Southampton has seen a massive hike in home schooling – with 267 children now being taught at home instead of just 11 registered with the city council in 2006.

But for one mum it was a no-brainer after she saw a teacher at an infant school turn his back on children beating each other up.

Emma Nichols, 34, had known home schoolers all her life, and already knew that she didn’t want her children to follow the national curriculum.

But it was the pressure she saw children are put under right from the start that made her mind up.

She said: “I didn’t read until I was eight. I’m dyslexic, and university educated, but my son is seven and he still can’t read. He is getting there but if he had had to do SATS it would have been awful. But he can build a flat pack wardrobe himself.

“Children achieve things at different times.

“They might get the fifth concept but not the first. The national curriculum doesn’t flow very well.

“And we want to encourage them to be lifelong learners and who seek out answers and look for information.”

But it’s not just the children who are learning in the Nichols household.

Emma has had to learn subjects and topics herself and said the process has been “fascinating”.

And through the local home schooling community there are weekly educational trips, with each parent in the cooperative giving two hours a week of tuition in their own area of expertise.

Those parents who feel they don’t have academic knowledge to impart, however, can participate in other ways. One mum leads walks around the area.

Emma’s eldest child Kendra, eight, said she enjoys the time at home – and although she shares lessons with brother Neddie, seven, they only get on each other’s nerves “sometimes”.

And she added: “Sometimes I wonder if I would have more friends if I went to school – but then I think I’ve got lots of friends anyway.”

Although Emma so far has no regrets in choosing to home educate, she gives the kids the option each year of whether they want to go to school or not.

And she added: “I think the perception was that home educators were weirdos. But it’s so diverse. The children meet all kinds of people.

“There are children with physical disabilities, long-term chronic illnesses and Asperger’s and autism.

“We know Muslims, Christians, atheists who are all home educated.

“There’s only one day in the week when we don’t meet up with other people and there are anything from 12 to 30 people on any of our educational trips.

Although there is no obligation for parents to register their child as being home educated, there is contact with the council, and support in the form of various groups.

But according to Emma, the Southampton home schooling community itself naturally monitors those participating, providing support and even gentle interventions if necessary.

She added: “It’s good that you have the choice in this country. In Germany you can’t do it because of Third Reich legislation and the fear of radicalisation.”

Emma used the Charlotte Mason Method, a holistic system of education designed to educate “the whole person, not just the mind”.