These FAQs are just a brief overview of some of the common questions that may be posed by families new to home education and are specific to England.  For more comprehensive information (including for information from other parts of the UK), please visit one of the support and advice sites listed on Useful Links.

I thought that children had to go to school?

It is a myth that children must attend school.  Education, not school, is compulsory.  By law (Education Act 1996) parents are required to provide an efficient, full-time education suitable to the age, ability and aptitude of their child.

Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 provides that:

“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.”

Furthermore, Article 2 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights states that:

“No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.”

Home education is sometimes more fully referred to as “Elective Home Education”.  This is because parents have “elected” (chosen) to educate their child “otherwise” than at school (by default at “home”, although in practice home-educated children may experience a wide range of educational experience outside of their actual home).

Home education should be a choice.  If you feel that you have been (or are feeling) pushed to home educate by a school that your child attends, please seek further advice from one of the support sites listed on Useful Links

I thought that if children do not attend school that their parents could be prosecuted for truancy?

This only applies to children who are on a school register (roll).  If your child is registered at a school and then does not attend that school on the required days of attendance then they are considered to be truanting.

Home educated children are receiving an education ‘otherwise’ than at school and are not registered on any school role.  If your child has attended school you must de-register them from the school role in order to home-educate.

This is a very simple process and simply involves writing to the school stating that your child’s name needs to be removed from the register as they are now home-educated (or you can state a future date at which their name needs to be removed, but your child will have to attend school up until the date that home-education is stated to start – it would be prudent to either get a receipt from the school for a hand-delivered letter or proof of postage).

The school needs to remove the child’s name from the register when requested.

“8(1)(d), a ‘school-age’ pupil’s name is to be deleted from the admissions register if:
He has ceased to attend the school and the proprietor has received written notification from the parent that the pupil is receiving education otherwise than at school.”
The Pupil Registration Regulations (England) 2006: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2006/1751/regulation/8/made

“12(3) As to the contents of the admission register comprising particulars relating to a pupil whose name is to be deleted in accordance with regulation 8(1)(d), (e),(g),(i) or (m), the proprietor shall make a return to the local authority for every such pupil giving the full name of the pupil, the address of any parent with whom the pupil normally resides and the ground upon which their name is to be deleted from the admission register as soon as the ground for deletion is met in relation to that pupil, and in any event no later than deleting the pupil’s name from the register.”
The Pupil Registration Regulations (England) 2006: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2006/1751/regulation/8/made

You do not need to inform the Local Authority of your intention to home educate, but the school must inform the Local Authority of your child’s deletion from the register and why they have done so.

If you child attends a Special School the de-registration process is different, please see “Home Educating Children with SEN

My child has never attended school how do I begin to home-educate?

If your child has never attended school and you intend to home educate you do not have to inform anyone.  You may find it helpful to contact other local home educators and attend and local meet-ups and activities (although you’re not required to do so).

What happens if I am stopped by a truancy patrol (sweep)?  How do I prove that I home-educate?

Home educated children are not the focus of these sweeps and if stopped you may simply state that you are a home educating family and continue on your way.  You do NOT have to give your, or your children’s, names or address.  You do NOT have to carry any form of identification, be ‘known’ the Local Authority or be a member of any organisation.

5.10 When planning and running truancy sweeps, LAs should refer to the DCSF’s School Attendance and Exclusions Sweeps Effective Practice.(23) This includes a section on children who are educated outside the school system. Those taking part in the sweeps, including police officers, police community support officers, local authority staff and anyone else taking part in the sweep should be fully familiar with this guidance, act in accordance with it and be aware that there is a range of valid reasons why compulsory school-age children may be out of school.  Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities (England): http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/e/guidelines%20for%20las%20on%20elective%20home%20educationsecondrevisev2%200.pdf

If you are home educating and are stopped, questioned and pushed to giving details, despite stating that you home educating, please ask that they contact the Head of Attendance and Pupil Welfare at Doncaster Metropolitan Council (DMBC) to clarify that you do not have to do so.  If it is helpful to you, you may want to make a note of the current Head of Attendance and Pupil Welfare’s name and their phone number so that you may give it instead of your details.

What is “efficient”, “suitable” and “full time”?

The responsibility for a child’s education rests with his or her parents. An “efficient” and “suitable” education is not defined in the Education Act 1996 but “efficient” has been broadly described in case law:

(1) as an education that “achieves that which it sets out to achieve”, and 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”. (2.3 Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities (England) http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/e/guidelines%20for%20las%20on%20elective%20home%20educationsecondrevisev2%200.pdf)


How do I fulfil my responsibilities?

The type of educational activity can be varied and flexible. It is recognised that home educating parents are not required to:

  • teach the National Curriculum
  • provide a broad and balanced curriculum
  • have a timetable
  • have premises equipped to any particular standard
  • set hours during which education will take place
  • have any specific qualifications
  • make detailed plans in advance
  • observe school hours, days or terms
  • give formal lessons
  • mark work done by their child
  • formally assess progress or set development objectives
  • reproduce school type peer group socialisation
  • match school-based, age-specific standards.

For further information please visit: http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/e/guidelines%20for%20las%20on%20elective%20home%20educationsecondrevisev2%200.pdf

There are many different approaches to home education from the very structured ‘school at home’ to a more relaxed, unplanned approach that takes advantage of opportunities to learn as and when they present themselves.

You may come across terms such as “structured” and “autonomous” but there can be quite some variation in how individuals define such terms.  Some families may have an interest in particular approaches, some of the more well-known being Montessori, Steiner (also known as Waldorf) education, Classical Education and Charlotte Mason (sometimes called Ambleside).

Some families may use specific curriculum, access online ‘schools’ or distance learning programmes, but there is no requirement that you do either of these things.

Do I have to be inspected or monitored?

Local authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis.

If they become aware that you are home educating your child, they will contact you to ask for some basic information such as your child’s name and date of birth as well as your  preferred contact details.  They will also likely ask you for a brief outline of the home education that occurs in your family.  You do not have to provide any or all of this information, but it would be prudent to confirm that your child is not missing from education (CME).  Providing the Local Authority have no concerns they will normally be in touch once a year to check that you are still home educating and your contact details

Please bear in mind in any dealing that you have with the Local Authority that you are not required to do the various activities listed in the previous entry. In addition it is worth bearing in mind that:

3.14 It is important to recognise that there are many, equally valid, approaches to educational provision. Local authorities should, therefore, consider a wide range of information from home educating parents, in a range of formats. The information may be in the form of specific examples of learning e.g. pictures/paintings/models, diaries of educational activity, projects, assessments, samples of work, books, educational visits etc. (2.3 Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities (England) http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/e/guidelines%20for%20las%20on%20elective%20home%20educationsecondrevisev2%200.pdf)

For further information please visit one of the support and advice sites listed on Useful Links

Do I have to respond to enquiries from the Local Authority?

“Whilst the Local Authority has no statutory duty in relation to the monitoring of home education on a routine basis, they must ‘make arrangements to enable them to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children in their area who are of compulsory school age but –

a) are not registered pupils at a school, and

b) are not receiving suitable education otherwise than at a school.”

s436A Education Act 1996 England and Wales: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/40/section/4

Where a child is said to be educated otherwise than at school, but it appears to the local authority that the child is not in fact receiving an education, or the Local Authority makes enquiries to ascertain that a child is home-educated and does not receive any response, the authority has a duty to carry out a sequence of steps set out in the Education Act 1996 and further in the revised statutory guidance on Children Missing Education (2009), quoted below:

“87. Section 436A of the Education Act 1996 requires local authorities to make arrangements to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children who are not pupils at schools and who are not otherwise receiving suitable education. In order to comply with this duty local authorities need to make arrangements which will as far as possible enable them to determine whether any children who are not pupils at schools, such as those being educated at home, are receiving suitable education. In order to do this local authorities should make inquiries with parents educating children at home about the educational provision being made for them. The procedures to be followed with respect to such investigations are set out in the EHE Guidelines, 2.7-2.11 and 3.4-3.6.”
Statutory Guidance on Children Missing Education (England) January 2009: http://edyourself.org/articles/CMEguidance09.doc or http://www.education.gov.uk/aboutdfe/statutory/g00224510/children-not-receiving-suitable-education

Therefore it is prudent that enquiries from the Local Authority are responded to, as if there is an absence of any reply confirming that the child(ren) are home-educated the Local Authority may have cause to believe that a suitable education is not being received.

Do I have to meet with an Elective Home Education Officer?

Whether or not you meet with an EHE officer from the Local Authority (DMBC) is entirely your choice, however, it is not mandatory and you may choose to keep any involvement the Local Authority in writing.  If you do choose to meet with the Local Authority you do not have to meet them in your home and may prefer to meet them at another convenient location, e.g. a local library.

Does the Local Authority provide any funding?

Parents who choose to home educate their children become responsible for the full costs of that education, including the cost of any examinations.  Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council (DMBC) do not offer any form of grants or loans towards the cost of education of home educated children.

However, at the time of writing, DMBC is looking into to providing a central meeting space for home educators.

What about exams?

Parents who choose to educate their children at home must be prepared to assume full financial responsibility, including bearing the cost of any public examinations.

Examination centres need to be organised well in advance.  At the time of writing there have been meetings between local home educators and the Local Authority to discuss exam centres for external candidates (ie exam centres that home educated children can access).

Families may choose to follow distance learning examination courses or you could employ a private tutor. Again, it is advisable to research costs and available support before you begin.

Children do not have to sit public examinations (for example GCSEs), however, many educational institutions and employers may look for some sort of proof that a certain level of educational attainment has been acquired before admitting a potential student or employee.  Some may accept portfolios of prior work or may offer entrance examinations where a student may demonstrate their ability, but for many, examinations results from GCSEs or IGSEs will be preferred or required as an indicator.

We advise that entry requirements for either further/higher education or employment be thoroughly investigated before making the choice not to sit public examinations.

There has been movement for 14-16 year olds attending college and, again, you may find the following article helpful on EdYourself: http://edyourself.org/articles/allpartygrouphomeeducation.php#apgfe14-16

For more in-depth information you may find websites such as: http://edyourself.org or any of the other home ed organisations listed on ‘Useful Links‘ helpful.