Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Home Education

NB This information applies to England and Wales. The law is different in Scotland and Northern Ireland. For correct legal information about home education in Scotland, please see www.schoolhouse.org.uk. For Northern Ireland, please see www.hedni.org.

Can I educate my child at home?

Yes. As a parent it is your responsibility to make arrangements for the education of your child either at school or ‘otherwise’. The 1996 Education Act, Section 7 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.

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Can I home educate my child with special needs?

Many children with special needs are home educated, and as their parent you have the same right as any other parent to home educate them.

If your child is in a mainstream school, you deregister them in the same way as any other child – even if they have a statement of SEN.

However if your child is a registered pupil at a special school, you must write to the Local Authority to request consent to deregister them. The LA should not withhold consent unreasonably.

Legally you have to meet your child’s special needs, but how you do this is up to you. You don’t have to provide what is in the Statement of SEN (if they have one) – some of the provisions will only apply in a school setting anyway. The Statement will continue to be reviewed, unless there is an agreement to cease it.

For more details visit www.he-special.org.uk.

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Do I know enough to teach my child?

Yes. If you know how to look things up on the internet or in a library, how to listen to your child and facilitate their interests, then you can educate them at home.

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Can I teach what I want?

Yes – as long as you provide what the law requires, i.e. an education suitable for your child. You and your child are the best judge of that. In actual fact, many home educators consider themselves facilitators and helpers, rather than teachers.

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Can we set our own timetable?

Yes. Home educating families structure their time in the way that suits them best. By law the education you provide should be full-time, but how you define and achieve that depends on your particular circumstances.

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Can my child take exams?

Yes. There is no obligation to take any type of test or exam whatsoever, but home educated children can take public exams (e.g. GCSEs) if they want to. But you will need to make all the arrangements yourselves; home educators’ support organisations are a good source of information on this.

For more details, see www.home-education-exams.org.uk/

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How should I educate my child?

The law states that the education you provide should be suitable for your child. Within that, it is entirely up to you what approach to take. There are many different ways to provide a suitable education, ranging from “school at home” to more free form, play-and-conversation-based, or child-led approaches. You may find it helpful to talk to other home educating families to find out what works for them. It may take you some time to find an approach that works for your family, and you will probably adapt and develop over time.

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How will my child make friends?

Children who are home educated socialise and make friends by getting involved in activities that interest them, and making friends with people who share their interests. They can socialise as little or as much as suits them, and at their own pace.

There are many regular social and co-operative learning events organised by local home educating families, where they can socialise with kids and adults of all ages. There are also the many groups open to the whole community. Whatever your child is into – dance, sport, writing, music, craft, art, church groups etc. – there is likely to be something of interest. Many home educating families “mix and match” from the two.

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Do I have to register my child as home educated?

No. If your child is registered at a school you must write a letter informing the head teacher that your child is being withdrawn to be educated ‘otherwise than at school’. It is the responsibility of the head teacher to notify the education department of the Local Authority.

If your child has never been to school you can continue to provide a home based education without informing anyone. However the Local Authority might contact you anyway at some point to check that your child is not “missing an education”.

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Will I receive any financial help to educate my children at home?

No. There is no funding available from the local authority for elective home education.

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Will our home education be inspected?

There is no legal requirement for the council to routinely monitor or inspect home education provision. However, a local council has a duty to act if it has reason to believe that an education is not being provided for a child. For this reason council officers might ask you to provide information about the home education you are providing for your child.

Home educators’ support organisations generally recommend that you provide information if requested, in a form of your choice. Common methods include providing an educational philosophy or other written information, or meeting with a council officer to discuss the provision you are making – at a venue of your choice.

You do not have to accept a home visit if you don’t want to.

If you are in Brighton & Hove and you need support dealing with the local authority, please join the Brighton & Hove Home Educators email group and ask – there are lots of people around who can help and advise you.

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