This information is for anyone who is considering home education for their child and for experienced home educators looking for help, support and useful contacts
As a parent, you have a duty to provide an education for your child during compulsory school age
(age 5 to 16). Most parents choose to provide this education by sending their child to school but, for a variety of reasons, a small number decide to educate their child themselves. This is called opting for elective home education. It is a perfectly legal choice and parents are not required to have formal qualifications to educate their child at home. It is however a major responsibility for a family, requiring qualities such as patience, enthusiasm and flexibility.
Returning your child to school
If at any time you wish your child to return to school full time the admissions service
will be able to advise on how to go about this. The normal admissions procedure will apply and will be subject to a place being available in the appropriate year group at the school.
The duty of the parents
It is important to know that parents have a right to educate their children from their own philosophical, spiritual or religious standpoint.
Under section 7 of the 1996 Education Act, it is the parents’ duty:
‘To cause the child to receive efficient full time education suitable to his/her age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he/she may have either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.’
Education is considered to be efficient and suitable if it enables children to achieve their full potential and it prepares the child for adult life in the community.
There is no legal definition of full time. Children in school normally spend between 21 and 25 hours working at school each week. Children in home education are taught in very different conditions and there is no direct comparison with school based timetables or educational arrangements. Please refer to the Department of Education EHE Guidelines
for further information.
Taking your child out of school
If your child is in school you must formally de-register by writing to the headteacher and informing them that you intend to teach your child at home. If your child has never been to school, there is no action for you to take prior to starting home education, but we would encourage you to register with the Home Education Service
. If you would like to register you can complete a registration form
Home education for children with special needs
There is no law prohibiting the home education of children with a statement of educational needs
, provided they are not attending a special school, in which case you will need the consent of the local authority (LA).
The duty of the local authority (LA)
Essex County Council has a duty to make informal enquiries to ensure that children who are ‘educated otherwise than at school’ receive suitable education. If the LA is not satisfied with the arrangements made by any parent for their child’s education, there are legal requirements on both the authority and the parent.
You can arrange for your child to take exams as external candidates with an exam centre. Please be aware this can involve considerable research.
The examination boards should be able to provide a list of centres near your home. Study through a reputable correspondence college should also provide you with access to an exam centre. Contact details for both examination boards and correspondence colleges are available on our useful contacts
For further information please contact the Home Education Service.