Parents and carers have a legal responsibility to make sure that a child of compulsory school age gets an efficient full-time education. This must be suitable to the age and ability of the child, and to any special educational needs they have. For most children this means going to school regularly, but some parents choose to teach their child at home rather than at school.
What is an efficient and suitable education?
An 'efficient' and 'suitable' education is not defined in the Education Act 1996, but there are explanations which are usually used.
'Efficient' has been 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'.
Why teach a child at home?
Parents may choose home education for lots of different reasons. These are some common ones, but there are many others too:
- distance to, or access to, a local school
- religious or cultural beliefs
- philosophical or ideological views
- being unsatisfied with the school system
- as a short term arrangement 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 child
Parents may decide to use private tutors or other adults to help educate their child at home, but there isn't a legal need to do so. Learning may take place in a range of locations, not just in the family home.
How do I start educating my child at home?
You must tell your child's current school about your decision to educate them at home in writing. The school will then tell us.
When we find out that a parent wants to educate their child at home, we’ll make contact with the parent to discuss this further. We need to make sure that the child will be getting a full time, efficient education, suitable to their age, ability, and aptitude.
We have no automatic right to access your home. But you can, if you wish, give us access to your home, or suggest an alternative place to meet. At the initial contact, we will agree with you the nature and frequency of future contact.
If your child has a Statement of Special Educational Needs or an EHCP plan (education, health and care plan) and they attend a special school, their name can't be removed from the school's register without our consent. We must agree that the home education you'll provide will meet the child's needs, as identified in their Statement of SEN or EHCP.
You shouldn't take your child out of school just because of a disagreement with the school or class teacher. There are lots of ways of solving problems, including contacting the head teacher of your child's school, or the governors of the school. You can also contact us for more advice.
What do I need to do if I educate my child at home?
We expect that parent and carers who educate their child at home will:
- make sure their child gets a suitable full-time education for as long as they are being educated at home
- play a substantial role in the child's education, but this doesn't necessarily mean being constantly or actively involved in providing that education
- recognise their child's needs, attitudes, and aspirations
- recognise opportunities for their child to be stimulated by their learning experiences
- have access to the resources and materials needed for a suitable education at home
- give their child opportunities for interaction with other children and adults
- be responsible for their child's education, including the cost of sitting any examinations
You can also find out more in the elective home education policy, procedure, and guide for parents.