Home education

Education is compulsory whereas attending school is not.  Although most parents choose to send their children to school, some will educate their children at home.  This is called Elective Home Education.

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Elective Home Education (EHE)

Elective Home Education (EHE) is where you decide to educate your child at home instead of sending them to school.  You then have full responsibility for providing them with full-time education, suitable for your child’s age and ability, and to any special educational needs they may have.  Elective home education is not an appropriate option if you want to avoid prosecution for non-attendance at school or because of a disagreement with a school.  Parents should also not be pressured into home educating.

Elective Home Education is not the same as education other than at school (EOTAS). Local authorities provide home tuition if a child is sick and cannot attend school.  You can read further information about education other than at school.

What to consider before deciding to home educate

You may choose to home educate your child for a number of reasons, for example cultural, religious, philosophical or to meet specific special educational needs.

If you decide to educate at home because of a disagreement with your child’s school, disappointment at not getting a particular school place, or difficulty in persuading your child to attend, you can contact the Elective Home Education Team for advice in the first instance.

Whilst it can be very rewarding to educate your child at home, it does require commitment and patience, plus the ability to provide appropriate motivation, resources and equipment.  You need to decide if you have the skills and ability to educate your child, or whether you will employ a tutor/teacher or other forms of support.  Children who move from school to school, or in and out of the school system generally do not achieve as well as their peers.  Any decision to home educate should therefore consider what the education for the child would look like in each Key Stage, and whether the education at home can be maintained.

You should be sure that you are doing what is right for your child from the start. Discuss it with your child, the school and relevant education professionals including the SENCo if the child has Special Educational Needs and the Elective Home Education Team.

An important part of school life is the opportunity to mix with other children and adults. You should consider the social development opportunities you will be giving your child or children.  You may decide for them to join a variety of clubs or social groups.  Some home educating families may get together to arrange group activities. 

Parental responsibilities

The responsibility of the parent is clearly set out in section 7 of the Education Act of 1996 which states that:

The parent of every child of compulsory school age 5-16 shall allow them to receive efficient full-time education suitable to:

  • their age
  • their ability
  • their aptitude
  • any special educational need they may have

This can be by regular attendance at school or through elective home education.

Department for Education guidance states ‘suitable education’ means there should be an appropriate minimum standard to be aimed for.  The education should also aim to enable the child, to function as an independent citizen in the UK once grown up, and beyond the community in which he or she was brought up, if that is the choice made in later life by the child.

Your child does not have to be taught the National Curriculum, but you should consider the impact it may have on them if it is not followed, including any impact on public examinations and qualifications.

You can teach your child on any day of the week and choose the hours you feel are suitable.  Children in schools receive around 25 hours of education a week over 38 weeks a year which is considered to be full time education.

The council is not able to provide any tutors or financial help towards educating your child at home.  You need to consider the cost of things like writing equipment, text books, paper, examination fees and college placements.  You can arrange for your child to take GCSEs and other examinations at independent exam centres. You will be required to pay for each exam entry.  The elective home education team can provide you with some examples of exam centres you can use.

Local Authority responsibilities

In most cases, families who home educate provide their child with a suitable education. The council will get involved if it appears that the education being provided is unsatisfactory and may issue a school attendance order requiring your child to be placed on a school roll.

Decided to home educate

If your child is attending school and, after following the guidance and information contained above you decide you would like to home educate, you must notify the headteacher in writing.  The school will then inform the council of your decision.

For a child who has never attended school, you can contact the elective home education team directly to let us know you will be home educating your child.  Details can be found in our directory.

My child has special educational needs and I want to home educate

Some children with special educational needs are home educated and some may have an education health and care plan (EHCP). If you want to start home education and your child is currently enrolled in school, you must write to the school and tell them to take your child's name off the school roll.  However if your child is registered at a special school, consent is required from the council’s 0-25 education team before the child's name can be taken off roll.  The school will inform the 0-25 education team who will then review your request at their SEND panel.

If your child has an EHCP but is not at a special school, it is a good idea to contact the 0-25 education team to discuss your reason why you wish to home educate.

In cases where you feel the school is not making sufficient adjustment for your child’s SEN, you should raise your concerns directly with the school special educational needs coordinator (SENCo) or alternatively make an appointment with the school. 

Parents can also contact the SEND Information advice and support service called SEND and You for impartial advice.

Once a child is taken off roll at school to be home educated, the school place will not be kept.  Should you wish to reapply you may find your preferred school no longer have places available.

You can find further information about elective home education for children with special education needs on the following national charity websites: 

Contact is a national charity and has produced further information to help you understand about home education.

IPSEA have an article to explain homeschooling and education other than at school.

For general enquiries regarding SEND, including SEN Support Services, please contact Will Pritchard, Strategic Lead for inclusion and SEND: will.pritchard@southglos.gov.uk

Further information

If you find that home education is not for you, the Elective Home Education team can advise you on how to get your child back into a school.

You can find more information on home education in our home education policy and on the government website (gov.uk).

Further guidance is also available for parents and carers on elective home education on the government website.

Other external websites which provide information relating to home education are:

Education Otherwise

Child’s Law advice

Home-School Tutoring

BBC Bitesize  

Exams, testing and assessment information on Gov.uk