This page provides information on the procedure and requirements for home educating children.
Section 7 of Education Act 1996 places a duty on parents to ensure that their child of compulsory school age receives a suitable education either by regular attendance at school or otherwise. This can be fulfilled by home educating your child.
What is compulsory school age?
A child is of compulsory school age the first term after their 5th birthday. Therefore:
- Children who turn 5 between 1st January and 31st March will be of compulsory school age at the beginning of the school term after 1st April.
- Children who turn 5 between 1st April and 31st August will be of compulsory school age at the beginning of the school term after 1st September.
- Children who turn 5 between 1st September and 31st December will be of compulsory school age at the beginning of the school term after 1st January.
A child remains of compulsory school age until the last Friday in June in the school year that they turn 16. From September 2013 all 16 year olds need to remain in education or training until the end of the academic year and from September 2015 they will be required to continue until their 18th birthday.
Am I allowed to home educate my child?
It is possible to teach your child at home on a full or part-time basis at any time as long as the child is not subject to a School Attendance Order. You do not need the agreement of the school or local authority to home educate your child unless the child is attending a special school under a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP). In these situations the local authority must be informed before removing the child from the school roll.
Children with a Statement or an EHCP can be educated at home. If the provision of education is named in the Statement or EHCP the local authority is under an obligation to arrange that education for the child. There is no obligation for the parent to make or arrange the educational provision specified in the Statement or EHCP. In some cases it might be best for both the parent and local authority to make provision for the child. A parent can request a statutory assessment or reassessment of their child's needs in the same way as a child attending a school, see our information page on Special Educational Needs for more information.
If the child's Statement or EHCP names a school but the parent has chosen to home educate the child, the local authority must be satisfied that the education is suitable to the child's special educational needs and will review the Statement or plan annually. If the local authority is satisfied, it does not need to name a school in the Statement or plan.
The government has issued guidance on this area called Elective Home Education.
The law says I must provide 'suitable education'. What does this mean?
The education must be:
- Full time
- Efficient - the education must achieve what it sets out to achieve
- Suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and any special educational needs he may have. The education must equip the child for life within the community and must not limit a child's options in later life.
What steps do I have to take to remove my child from school and home educate him or her?
You should write to the headteacher of your child's school. A template is provided here:
Dear [Headteacher's name]
RE: [child's name and date of birth]
I wish to withdraw [child's name] from school in order to home educate him or her.
I wish for his or her name to be removed from the admissions register under
Regulation 8(1)(d) of the Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations 2006
Once the school has received written notification from the parent that a pupil is receiving education otherwise than at school they must delete the child's name from the school roll.
The school has to inform the local authority under Regulation 12(3) Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 of any pupil who is going to be removed from the admissions register where the child will be home educated. You should be copied in to this correspondence. Once the child is removed from the school roll the local authority is no longer under a duty to provide education and this duty falls to the parent.
What are the expected standards of home education?
If you choose to home educate your child:
- There is no obligation to follow the national curriculum or the same syllabus/topics as a school.
- There is no obligation to have rooms or premises equipped to a particular standard.
- The school day does not need to match school terms, days or hours and you do not have to have a scheduled timetable.
- There is no need to be registered with the Department for Education or be inspected by Ofsted.
However local authorities can expect the following points:
- Consistent involvement of parents or other significant carers.
- Recognition of the child's needs, attitudes and aspirations.
- Opportunities for the child to be stimulated by their learning experiences.
- Access to resources/materials required to provide home education for the child.
What can the local authority do to check the standard of home education?
Each local authority should have a clear written policy about elective home education.
Under section 436A Education and Inspections Act 2006 local authorities are under a duty to identify children not receiving an education in their area. Local authorities must make arrangements to identify children of compulsory school age in their area who are not registered pupils at a school and are not receiving suitable education otherwise than at school. For more information on the duties of local authorities in this regard see our information page on Education for Children Out of School.
Local authorities do not have any statutory duties to routinely monitor the quality of home education. Caselaw has held that local authorities cannot insist on inspecting parents and children in their home or elsewhere. If a parent refuses to let the local authority enter the home or speak to the child this cannot constitute, on its own, a ground for concern about the education provision. Local authorities can make informal enquiries but cannot insist on evidence from the parents in any prescribed form.
We would advise you to cooperate with the local authority as much as possible if they are making enquiries about home education so that you can resolve the matter informally.
What formal measures can the local authority take if they do not think I am providing a suitable education?
Under section 437(1) of the Education Act 1996 local authorities shall intervene if it appears that the parents are not providing a suitable education. They can serve a notice in writing on the parent asking the parent to demonstrate that the child is receiving a suitable education no less than 15 days from the date that the notice is served.
If the parent fails to satisfy the local authority within the notice period that they are providing the child with a suitable education the local authority can serve a School Attendance Order on them. The School Attendance Order can name a school that the child should attend. This is usually a last resort and should only be done when all reasonable steps have been exhausted.
The parent can provide evidence at any time to request that the order is revoked. If you are dissatisfied with the conduct of the local authority you can make a complaint to the Secretary of State for Education or the Local Government Ombudsman.
Will I receive any financial support to educate my child at home?
The parent assumes full financial responsibility for the home education of their child including the costs of any public examinations but local authorities can provide support in some circumstances.
Examples of support might be:
- A library to lend books
- Free/discounted admission to Local Authority sports facilities
- National curriculum materials
- Information about educational visits and work experience
It is advisable to check with your local authority about the support available in your area.
If you wish your child to return to school then you can apply for schools at any point during the academic year. See our information page on School Admissions for more information.
For further information on home education contact Education Otherwise on 0845 478 6345.