Parents and carers have a legal responsibility to ensure that every child of compulsory school age receives an efficient full-time education. This must be suitable to the age, ability and aptitude of the child and to any special education needs the child may have.
An 'efficient' and 'suitable' education is not defined in the Education Act 1996, however there are explanations which are usually used.
'Efficient' has been broadly described in case law as an education that 'achieves that which it sets out to achieve'.
A 'suitable' education is one that 'primarily equips a child for life within the community of which he is a member, rather than the way of life in the country as a whole, as long as it does not foreclose the child's options in later years to adopt some other form of life if he wishes to do so'.
For the majority of children, this means regular attendance at school, but some parents choose to educate their child at home rather than at school. Parents may choose home education for a variety of reasons. The following reasons for home educating are common, but by no means exhaustive:
- distance or access to a local school
- religious or cultural beliefs
- philosophical or ideological views
- dissatisfaction with the system
- as a short term intervention for a particular reason
- a child's unwillingness or inability to go to school
- special educational needs
- parents' desire for a closer relationship with their children
Parents may decide to use private tutors or other adults to assist them in providing a suitable education, but there is no requirement to do so. Learning may take place in a variety of locations, not just in the family home.
Middlesbrough LA expects that parent/carers will:
- Ensure that their child receives a suitable full time education for as long as they are being educated at home
- Play a substantial role, although not necessarily by being constantly or actively involved in providing the child’s education.
- Have recognition of their child’s needs, attitudes and aspirations and opportunities for the child to be stimulated by their learning experiences
- Provide access to the resources/materials required to provide a suitable education at home and the opportunity for appropriate interaction with other children and adults.
- Assume financial responsibility for their child’s education including the cost of sitting any examinations.
Parents must notify the child’s current school of their decision to educate their child at home in writing, the school will then notify the LA. When the LA is informed that a parent wishes to educate their child at home they will contact the parent and arrange a meeting to ensure that their child is receiving a full time, efficient education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude.
LAs have no automatic right to access to a parent’s home. However parents may if they wish, permit access to their home or offer an alternative venue for a meeting. At the initial meeting, the nature and frequency of future contact will be agreed.
If a child has a statement of special education needs or an EHCP and the child attends a special school provision the child’s name may not be removed from the school’s register without consent from the LA. It must be agreed that the education at home provision will meet the needs of the child which have been identified in the child’s Statement of SEN or EHCP.
Children should not be taken out of school simply because of a disagreement with the school or class teacher. There are many ways of solving problems, such as contacting the head teacher of your child's school, the governors of the school or you can contact us for further advice and guidance.
If you would like some further information about education at home, please contact:
Responsible Officer for Elective Home Education
Telephone: 01642 201846