Information for parents
Education is compulsory for all children from the start of the school term following their fifth birthday. While education is compulsory, school is not. Parents can choose to provide their child with a suitable education at home and this is known as Elective Home Education (EHE).
Elective Home Education requires great commitment of time and energy.
The responsibility for a child’s education rests with their parents. Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 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.
The costs involved
If you home educate your child, you will assume financial responsibility for their education. Your child does not have to sit any examinations but if you wish them to do so, then you must also fund the cost of the examinations. Other costs that you may incur could be for books, stationery, educational trips, tutors, courses, subscriptions to educational resources, opportunities for exercise and any other materials needed.
What needs to be taught and teaching methods
In schools, children follow the National Curriculum. Parents do not need to follow the National curriculum when they are educating at home although, if you are educating your child at home, you may find it useful to use as a framework for their own teaching. If you intend for your child to go to school at some point in the future, it may be advantageous to cover similar work in order to make the transition into school smoother.
You may choose to make informal provision that responds to the developing interests of their child and that fits in with their particular lifestyle.
According to case law, the content of the provision must be suitable such that it ‘equips a child for life within the community of which he is a member …. as long as it does not fore close the child’s options in later years to adopt some other form of life if he wishes to do so’.
You need to provide a full-time education but you do not need to follow a timetable or have fixed times during which education will take place. At home, education need not follow school hours or term times as contact time is often almost continuous and opportunities for learning can arise at any time.
The social aspect
You may wish to consider your child’s social development as part of their education. There are many opportunities for socialisation for home educated children and this may be with people of any age.
Children may have extended family members and family friends or could join other home educated children on visits to museums, galleries, theatres or other places of interest.
In addition, your child could socialise with others through a particular sport or hobby by joining a club or taking part in events.
Who needs to teach
You do not need to have qualifications in order to home educate. You may wish to teach your child yourself, employ a tutor, enrol your child for educational sessions or teach in groups with other home educated children. If you do decide to employ a tutor, it is advisable to check their qualifications and ask to see their Disclosure and Barring Scheme (DBS) check. The DBS will inform you if the tutor has any previous record of offences which might make them unsuitable for work with children.
You will need to fund any examinations that you wish your child to sit. You have the flexibility to choose the examination board most suited to your child. You can get a copy of the chosen board’s examination syllabus and you will need to find a centre which will allow your child to sit the examination.
Some home educating parents find IGCSEs to be more appropriate than GCSEs, since it is based predominantly on final examinations and there is less coursework that needs to be supervised at school. The major examination boards for GCSEs/IGCSEs are Edexel, AQA and OCR.
Some colleges offer funded places to electively home educated 14-16 year olds. Places need to be arranged by you. Courses on offer tend to be practical learning, which develop skills needed for further education or employment. You are not expected to pay fees for this provision as it is funded by the Education Funding Agency (EDA). Further information is available on the GOV.UK website.
Home Education – FAQs
If I don’t want to educate my child at school what are my options?
If you don’t want to educate your child at school, you have the option of home education.
What does home education mean?
Home education is when parents choose to educate their children at home, rather than to send them to school to be educated. (Home education is sometimes also known as Elective Home Education.)
If I decide to home educate my child will I get any financial support from the council?
No. If you decide to home educate, you take on all the financial responsibility, including the costs of any exams you may later wish to enter your child for.
If I decide to home educate my child, do I need to obtain the council’s permission or agreement?
No, not unless your child is on roll at a special school.
If I decide I want to home educate what do I need to do?
If your child is on roll at a school you should write to the school, inform the headteacher of your intention to home educate and ask that your child’s name be removed from the school roll.
Do I need to tell the council?
No, you don’t have to, but we would encourage you to do so.
If I want to home educate will the council want to inspect the education I am providing for my child?
We will make informal enquiries about the education you are providing for your child, but you do not have to respond (although government guidance says that it would be “sensible” for you to do so.)
If I don’t respond to these informal enquiries what will happen?
If you persistently fail to respond to these informal enquiries we may think that you are not providing a suitable education for your child and may consider serving a School Attendance Order.
If the council serves a School Attendance Order what will happen?
You will have to either register your child at the school named or else demonstrate to a court that you are providing your child with a suitable education.