These notes are to help those parents/carers who are considering the possibility of educating their child or children at home.
The information contained in these notes should clarify legislation that effects the education of children at home and ways of working in situations like this.
If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact The Elective Home Education Team on 01274 385677
Guidance for parents on Elective Home Education
Information for parents/carers who are considering educating their child(ren) at home. This is often referred to as 'education otherwise' in Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 (previously Section of the 1944 Education Act) which states:
"It shall be the duty of the parent of every child of compulsory school age to cause her or him to receive efficient full-time education suitable to her/his age, aptitude and ability (and to any special educational needs she/he may have) either by attendance at school or otherwise".
This means that parents/carers have a legal responsibility to ensure that their child is educated but this does not have to be in school.
Deciding to educate your child(ren) at home is a major step which takes up a very considerable amount of your time, energy and money. It is hoped that these guidance notes will help you decide whether you can provide the best education at school, in partnership with you.
Some first thoughts for you
- Think long and hard. You alone will be responsible for ensuring that your child(ren) receives a broad and balanced education "suitable to her/his age, aptitude and ability".
- Plan what you intend to do with your child(ren) before making a decision.
- Look at the possible costs involved – books? equipment? visits? tutors?
- Remember that your child(ren) may well miss the social side of school, joint activities, group work, friendship, as well as access to specialized facilities and equipment.
- Think carefully if your child is approaching GCSEs. Find out what the implications of this will be.
Don't decide to educate your child at home:
- Because you have had a disagreement with a Headteacher, other members of staff or Governors. Try to talk with the people involved.
- If you have not been sending your child(ren) to school on time or regularly.
- Because your child is putting pressure on you to allow them to stay at home rather than go to school, or they refuse to go. Speak to the school who will be able to give you help and advice on the best way to resolve these kinds of issues.
- As a final 'once and for all' decision. You may well decide that you cannot teach your child(ren) as they get older and that you cannot make arrangements for all curriculum areas and examinations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does my child have to go to school?
The Education Act 1996 imposes a duty on parents/carers to "secure the education of their children..... of compulsory age " (5-16 years) but this can be done "otherwise than at school". For most children this means that they will normally go to school, but for various reasons a small number of parents decide to undertake the responsibility of educating their children outside the school systems.
Do I need anyone's permission?
No. But the Local Authority (LA) has a responsibility to make sure that your child's education meets the requirements of the Education Act.
What will happen if I don't notify the school or LA?
If your child is on a school register and not attending, then that non-attendance will be followed up by school and an Education Welfare Officer. It remains YOUR responsibility to notify the school.
What are parents' responsibilities?
Under Section 7 of the 1996 Act parents of children not attending a school need "to cause (the child) to receive efficient full time education suitable to his (or her) age, ability and aptitude (and to any special educational needs he (or she) may have either by regular attendance at school or otherwise".
Does this mean I have to follow the National Curriculum?
No. You do not have a legal duty to provide your child with the National Curriculum Although you may find it useful to know what it is and to follow it if practical. It will provide you with a useful framework for levels of achievement across the subjects. It will also help if your child returns to school in the future.
Currently, those subjects included in the National Curriculum are English, Mathematics and Science as core subjects with Technology, History, Geography, Art, Music, Physical Education, Modern Foreign Languages (from age 11) and Religious Education (unless parents exercise their right to withdraw a child).
Many of the commercially produced workbooks available from bookshops now relate their content to the National Curriculum.
Do I have to work school hours?
No. Full time does not mean necessarily working school hours or working for 25 hours a week. The LA will want to see how you are going to organise your days and that sufficient time is being spent in study each week.
How should I organize the teaching and learning?
There is no one approach or style than can be recommended, but it should be as active and practical as possible. Great importance should be placed on reading and mathematics and a programme of educational visits should also be planned. You can make use of educational broadcasts but need to prepare well in advance and ensure that you plan follow-up work after the broadcast. Be varying in the style and content of the education; it will be more enjoyable for you and your child(ren).
You will need to ensure that there is a special place set aside for quiet work and independent study.
Do I have to provide all the education?
No. But it is your responsibility to ensure that an efficient programme of work is provided. This can be done by the parent or parents. You can also use suitable friends or pay for specialist teaching; however, it is your responsibility to ensure that any tutors/teachers are suitably qualified and experienced to teach your child(ren). You are also advised to remain at home when a tutor is teaching your child. Remember your child needs may change at different ages. The level of education you provide should not restrict opportunities for your child in their future.
Will the LEA give me any support?
No. It is the LA's responsibility to make a judgment about quality of education provided. If you decide to return your child to school, the LA will be happy to advise you.
Can I educate my child part-time at home and in school?
Yes. It is called flexi schooling but this is only if the headteacher is in agreement. Some colleges of further education will support education otherwise by allowing access to courses but the financial responsibility for these courses remain with the parents.
Can I change my mind?
Yes. You can seek a place in a school at anytime. If the school of your choice is full in your child's year group you do have right of admission appeal. Sometimes a decision to educate a child at home is short term but please inform the LA if you decide your child will be returning to school.
Ideally the home educator will regularly re-assess the decision to home educate as the child grows and circumstances change. The LEA and school will help with a plan for re-introduction to school.
What do I need to check before making a decision?
- You have the time to devote to your child's education on a regular basis.
- You are convinced it is the best course of action for you child.
- You have the space available for a quiet working area.
- There are opportunities for physical exercise.
- You are prepared to buy the necessary resources or have access to them.
- You have the necessary expertise to teach your child effectively.
- You have some support available.
- Social experiences with other children are available.
The next steps
If you have considered all aspects carefully and decided to go ahead with education other than at school, please fill in the pro-forma and return it to the LA. You will receive a letter confirming that the pro-forma has been received. The inspector will contact you in the future to discuss the provision you are providing for your child. If the provision is 'suitable' you will be able to continue to educate your child other than at school. If the provision is not suitable you will be given suggestions as to how to improve the provision.
The pro-forma may be difficult to complete at first try to complete what you can and return it. If you can't complete all sections leave these blank and send in any additional information when you are established.
For information and sources of help and advice
Home Education Advisory Service
PO Box 98, Welwyn Garden City, Herts AL8 6AN
Tel: 01707 371854
Education Otherwise Association Limited
PO Box 325
0845 478 6345
A self-help group that supports home-based education. Approximately 100 families a month are presently joining Education Otherwise. Send an A5 size stamped addressed envelope for
Joint Council for GCSE
Devas Street, Manchester M15 6EX
Tel: 0161 9537557
Contact for the addresses of examining boards.
National Extension College
The Michael Young Centre, Purbeck Road, Cambridge CB2 2HN
Tel: 01223 400381
Provides open learning through its correspondence college. Offers GCSE and A level courses, tutors, handbooks, technical guides and practical guides. Supplies and annual publications/catalogue.
Rapid Results College
Tuition House, 27/37 George's Road, Wimbledon SW19 4DS
Tel: 0208 9443103
World-wide Education Service
Waverley House, Penton, Carlisle, Cumbria CA6 5QU
Tel: 01228 577123
Christian Education Europe
Maranatha House, Unit 5, Northford Close, Shrivenham SN6 8HL
Tel: 01793 783783
Useful Telephone Numbers
- Parent Partnership: 01274 481183
- Drugs & Alcohol Team:01274 688014
- ACE (Advisory Centre for Education): 0808 8000 327