Home Schooling & The Law

What Do I Need To Know

This is what the government’s website (direct gov) says about educating your child at home:

Whilst education is compulsory - attendance at a school is not. The Education Act 1996 states "It is the duty of the parent to secure an appropriate full time education" it does not say it has to be in a state provided school. The parent needs not to be a qualified teacher but they may need and will benefit from having a qualified teacher involved.  Therefore, parents can chose private education, they may chose to employ a private tutor or a peripatetic teacher,  they may make arrangements to plan and teach in small groups with other home educators or they may use a distance learning course provider. 


However, what is required​

  • Any special educational needs your child may have must be recognised

  • You do not need special permission from a school or local authority to educate your child at home, but you do need to notify the school in writing if you’re taking your child out of school

  • You will need to notify the local authority if you are removing your child from a special school

  • You do not need to observe school hours, days or terms

  • You do not need to have a fixed timetable, nor give formal lessons

  • There are no funds directly available from central government for parents who decide to educate their children at home

  • Some local authorities provide guidance for parents, including free National Curriculum materials.

The Role of Your Local Authority 

Local authorities can 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

  • 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 (representatives have no automatic right of access to your home)


If it appears to the local authority that a child is not receiving a suitable education, then it might serve a school attendance order.


Although you’re not legally required to inform your local authority when you decide to educate your child at home, it is helpful if you do so. If you are taking your child out of school to home-educate them, you need to inform the school in writing. It’s advisable, but not compulsory, to inform your local authority of any significant changes in your circumstance relevant to your child’s education,

like a change of address.

What Are The Legal Responsibilities of The Parent 

Under section 7 of the 1996 Act it is the parents 'duty' to cause the child to receive efficient full time education suitable to his or her age, ability and aptitude and to provide for any special educational needs the learner may have.

What Does Education At Home Really Mean?

There are many styles of education and you must choose the one that is best for your child. It might be influenced by your philosophical, spiritual cultural or religious out look or by your child's specific needs. There is a vast variety and potential within home education with no particular method being better than another.  


Irrespective of who actually teaches your child, it will be up to you to ensure that your programme is helping your child to learn. Your child is not obliged to follow the National Curriculum or take national tests but your child must make progress and learn at the right age, stage and ability for them.  


It will be up to you to ensure that your child receives a number of hours a week of education. You will be responsible for arranging the most appropriate curriculum for your child and to meet the full cost of his or her education. You must also ensure your child receives suitable, full time education for as long as he or she is educated at home. Under the Education Act this is from their fifth birthday until their eighteenth birthdays.

What Is Meant By Efficient, Suitable And Full Time Education?

Education is considered efficient and suitable if it enables the learner to achieve their full potential and it prepares them for adult life in their community. It must not close down the individuals options in later years, nor must it prevent them to chose another lifestyle to that of their parents if they chooses to do so.

What Will Happen If It Appears A Suitable Education Is Not Being Provided? 

Under section 437 (1) of the Education Act 1996 the Local Authority has a duty to intervene if it appears that parents are not providing a suitable education. A home visit will be offered with the aim of helping you overcome the difficulties within a mutually agreed timescale. If, after three visits, the situation has not improved you will be asked to arrange for your child to return to school. Should you need to find a school place the Educational Welfare Service will assist you.  

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