FAQ

Is Home Education legal?
How do I begin Home Education?
Do I have to tell anyone that I am Home Educating my child?
Can I Home Educate my child who has special needs?
Do I have to reproduce school at home?
Do I have to have to be qualified to teach my child?
Do I have to teach the National Curriculum?
How often do I have to provide information to the Local Education Authority?
Can I get any funding from the Government for my child’s Home Education?
Can my child take exams?
What about socialisation?
How can I find other Home Educators?
I have a question that isn’t answered on this page, where can I go for help?


Is Home Education legal?
The main law in England relating to Home Education is the Education Act 1996 –
Section 7. This states:

The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable –
(a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and
(b) to any special educational needs he may have,
either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

This means that education is the PARENTS’ responsibility. Parents can directly fulfil this responsibility OR delegate it to the LA.
Home Education is covered by “otherwise”.
In law school is NOT the default…….i.e. School and Home Education have equal weight in law.

Compulsory school age is from the beginning of the term following the child’s fifth birthday to the last Friday in June of the school year if they reach the age of 16 before the first day of the following (September) term.

How do I begin Home Education?
If your child is not currently registered with a school, you can Home Educate without informing anyone.

If your child is currently registered as a pupil at a school (including if you have simply secured a place at a school and your child has not actually started yet) you need to de-register them. You do not have to ask for permission, you are simply informing the school of your decision. You do this by sending a letter to the Head Teacher. In the letter state that you would like your child’s name removed from the Register as you have made alternative arrangements for their education. It is advisable to ask that the Head Teacher confirm to you in writing that they have dealt with your request. Send the letter by Recorded Delivery so that you have proof that it was sent, and keep a copy of it. If you hand-deliver the letter, ask for a receipt.

If you do not de-register your child from school you could be prosecuted for failing to ensure that your child attends, i.e. they may be considered to be truanting.

If your child has a statement of Special Educational Needs and goes to a Special School you will have to obtain the permission of the Local Education Authority to de-register them. This is usually granted. Please visit the HESpecial website for more information.

Do I have to tell anyone that I am Home Educating my child?

If your child has never been registered at a school, you do not have to inform any official body that you are Home Educating.

Once you have de-registered your child from school, you do not have to inform any other authority that you are Home Educating. The school will probably inform the Local Education Authority that you have elected to Home Educate your child. The Department which deals with Home Education may subsequently contact you to make enquiries about what education you are providing. They have a duty to take action if if comes to their attention that a child in their area is not receiving a suitable education.

Can I Home Educate my child who has special needs?

Yes, many families successfully Home Educate children with special needs.

Unless the Statement of Special Educational Needs specifies that provision at home is to be made by the Local Education Authority, the statement becomes a legally unenforceable document. The Local Education Authority will no longer have a statutory duty to arrange the provision specified in the Statement, nor will parents (who have no statutory duty of provision anyway).

The Local Education Authority are still under a duty to review the statement at least annually, until such time as they cease to maintain it. Where a child is established in elective Home Education, it is reasonable for the Local Education Authority to conclude that it is no longer necessary for them to make provision or to continue to maintain the statement. Parents who no longer seek provision from the Local Education Authority could write to them asking that they cease to maintain the statement, as it is no longer appropriate.

Do I have to reproduce school at home?

Parents are required to provide an efficient, full-time education suitable to the age, ability and aptitude of the child. There is currently no legal definition of “full-time”. Children normally attend school for between 22 and 25 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year, but this measurement of “contact time” is not relevant to elective home education where there is often almost continuous one-to-one contact and education may take place outside normal “school hours”. The type of educational activity can be varied and flexible.

Home educating parents are not required to:

  • teach the National Curriculum
  • provide a broad and balanced education
  • have a timetable
  • have premises equipped to any particular standard
  • set hours during which education will take place
  • have any specific qualifications
  • make detailed plans in advance
  • observe school hours, days or terms
  • give formal lessons
  • mark work done by their child
  • formally assess progress or set development objectives
  • reproduce school type peer group socialisation
  • match school-based, age-specific standards.

However, local authorities should offer advice and support to parents on these matters if requested.

There are many approaches. You might start with one and move to others as suits your child’s needs. Try searching the internet for more information on the following:

  • Charlotte Mason: Based on a method introduced by nineteenth-century educator Charlotte Mason, this approach includes nature studies/ journalling, narration and living books.
  • Maria Montessori: Children’s inherent love of learning is encouraged by giving them the opportunity to be spontaneous, and engage in meaningful activities under the guidance of a trained instructor in a prepared environment.
  • Rudolf Steiner: Implemented by using art as a practice, and language to develop the feelings, by nourishing the children with the rich heritage of wise folk tales, histories, fairy stories, poems, music and games that are part of our world civilisation. This creates the cultural atmosphere in which the children are taught reading, writing, arithmetic, nature study, geography, science, languages, music and other subjects.
  • Classical: Based on Dorothy Sayers’ The Lost Tools of Learning’ in which child development is broken up into three “stages” of learning commonly called “the Trivium”.
  • Eclectic: A mix of philosophies and curricula to accommodate each child’s abilities and interests. Parents choose from any method or style only those components that fit their specific needs.
  • The Principle Approach: An approach based on the principles of religion and an emphasis on God’s Word as the basis for every subject.
  • Traditional Textbook: Normally uses a full-range, packaged, text-book type curriculum that also may include a scope and sequence, testing, and record keeping.
  • Unit Studies: All or most core subjects are covered while studying any one topic or unit of study, using a variety of resources and supplemental activities.
  • Autonomous (Unschooling): A relaxed setting where learning is directed by the child. Parts of this philosophy are based on research by John Taylor Gatto, John Holt and Sandra Dodd.
  • Autonomous (Delight directed): This puts the learning in the hands of the child, based on his or her interests. Parents help facilitate this type of learning with appropriate instructional materials.

Do I have to have to be qualified to teach my child?

You do not need to be a qualified teacher or have any formal qualifications to Home Educate your child. As a parent you are and have always been your child’s teacher.

Do I have to teach the National Curriculum?

Home Educated children do not have to follow the National Curriculum.

Do I have to have a visit from the Local Education Authority?

Local Authorities have a duty to identify children in their area who are missing education. They may therefore make informal enquiries of parents who are educating their children at home to establish that a suitable education is being provided. If your local authority makes an informal enquiry, you can provide evidence your child is receiving an efficient and suitable education by:

  • writing a report describing your educational philosophy and approach
  • providing samples of your child’s work
  • inviting a local authority representative to your home, with or without your child being present
  • meeting a local authority representative outside the home, with or without your child being present

Note that Local Education Authority representatives have no automatic right of access to your home.

How often do I have to provide information to the Local Education Authority?

Although many Local Education Authorities wish to make visits to the family home or ask the parents for a written report at least annually, there is nothing in English law that says that the parent is required to co-operate with regular monitoring by the Local Education Authority.

Can I get any funding from the Government for my child’s Home Education?

Usually, if you elect to Home Educate your child you do not receive any help with funding from the Government.

If parents have chosen to de-register or have never registered the child, then the Local Education Authority has no duty to arrange educational provision at home. The Local Education Authority could “reasonably”, make provision, if it so chooses, but they very rarely do.

If parents have not electively de-registered (e.g. child is excluded, ill, or unable to attend school for other reasons), the LEA does have a duty to arrange educational provision, which can be “otherwise” than at school, but, under current legislation (s19), this provision may be minimal, patchy and possibly inappropriate.

A group of children for whom LEA can make provision “otherwise” than at school are s319 children for whom statements are maintained only where recognized home based programmes (such as Lovaas or Options, etc.) are funded by Local Education Authorities.

Can my child take exams?

Home educators can take some examinations as fee-paying private candidates and may, for example, take GCSEs, IGCSEs or Open University courses.

It can be difficult to find somewhere to sit exams. State schools are not generally willing to accommodate private candidates but independent schools may be more helpful.

Some home educators use correspondence courses such as NEC or Oxford Home Schooling which can help overcome obstacles such as grading coursework and controlled assessment.

It may be possible for young people aged 14-16 to take GCSEs at college with the tuition fees paid by the Local Education Authority who can reclaim the money from Government. In 2009 the previous Government said that local authorities could already draw down funding through the Dedicated Schools Grant for home educated 14-16s to attend college and for “home educated pupils whom they support financially and who have a statement, or who have significant special educational needs that have not been formally recognised through a statement.”

Some home educated young people find it is possible to go to college at 16 without GCSEs in order to study for GCSEs or A Levels. In these cases, the family is likely to have made prior contact with the college and shown a portfolio of work at an interview. The candidate may be interviewed by specialist subject tutors. All applicants to college will probably be required to take a literacy and numeracy assessment which is completed online at college over a period of several hours.

Flexi-schooling is a possible solution to enable a child to take GCSEs at school. Very few schools and colleges offer this option at present and agreement is up to the Head Teacher.

What about socialisation?

Most Home Educated children have many opportunities to meet a wide range of people: Family, friends, the neighbours, the postman, the music teacher, peers at extra-curricular activities, people at the swimming pool…

Many children are much happier when they can choose who they would like to spend their time with and when. The enforced socialisation and need to compete created by the school environment is not ideal for many children. Many children encounter bullying. Many children don’t have their needs met.

In a natural community, children spend their days with babies and the elderly and every age group in between. These mixed age groups help and teach each other – a natural process in Home education.

How can I find other Home Educators?

One of the best ways to link up with other Home Educating families is to join online support groups.

There are National Groups who can provide help and support with general; and local groups where you can make contact with people who have similar interests and experiences; share information and find out about meetings, outings, activities and events.

If you’d like to find out more about groups in and around Lancashire please contact us and we’ll do our best to help.

I have a question that isn’t answered on this page, where can I go for help?

If you have a question that we haven’t listed here, please contact us and we’ll do our best to help.

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