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Educating your child at home - elective home education

All parents and carers must ensure provision of suitable education for their children. Some people choose to teach their child at home, this is known as elective home education.

The Education Act 1996 Section 7 states that the parent of a child who is of compulsory school age has a legal duty to see that their child receives:

Efficient full-time education, suitable to his/her age, ability and aptitude, and to any special education needs s/he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise

Parents are free to choose whether or not their child goes to school. Education is compulsory not schooling. If home education is chosen then it is important to note that the education provided must be ‘efficient’ and ‘suitable’ for the individual child. 

Being a home educator is a big decision, we advise you think about why you are considering home education, what it will involve, what are the costs and if you have done the necessary research and planning. 

If it is that you are having problems with your child's school, teachers or you are considering home education in reaction to a particular situation such as bullying we recommend you speak to the school, school's governing body or Education Welfare Officer and try to fix any problems.  Often problems can be resolved in other ways and schools have many professionals on hand to help. 

What do I need to do if I wish to educate my child at home?

Where possible we recommend that you go into school and talk things over with the headteacher first.

You then need to write to the school stating that you intend to educate your child at home. It would be helpful if you could copy your letter to:

  • Education Investigation Service
    Floor 2, 3-5 St James's Road, 
    DY1 1HZ

For a child that’s starting school you should also write to this address.

  • You can then expect to receive a letter from the educational investigation service to arrange a meeting with you, either at home or at their office. This is normal procedure. The service seeks to establish initial contact and perhaps discuss with you any issues you feel may have been overlooked etc. Following this initial meeting your contact details will be passed to an elective home education co-ordinator, with whom all future contact will take place

  • The local authority (LA) has a duty to ensure that a suitable education is taking place. The way this is done is open to negotiation between the authority and the family. There are basically three options.

  1. A visit made to the family home by the adviser

  2. A meeting held outside of the home (at both of these options your child/children may or may not be present)

  3. By the sending in of a report which may or may not be accompanied by samples of work.

However, past experience has shown that to establish a good working relationship, built upon mutual trust and the exchange of information and advice a home visit with parent(s) and child/children at a mutually convenient time is the LA’s preferred option.

For Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN)

We work in partnership with, and support, parents to ensure that the SEN of their children are met where we know or have been informed by parents of children's SEN.

If your child has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan, the plan should make clear that the child or young person will be educated at home. If it does then by law we must arrange the special educational provision set out in the plan, working together with you (the parents/carer). Under Section 19 of the Act, a local authority must have regard to the views, wishes and feelings of the child and his or her parents, or the young person.

In cases where the EHC plan gives the name of a school or type of school where the child will be educated and the parents decide to educate at home, Dudley Council is not under a duty to make the special educational provision set out in the plan provided it is satisfied that the arrangements made by the parents are suitable. Dudley Council must review the plan annually to assure itself that the provision set out in it continues to be appropriate and that the child’s SEN continue to be met (see Chapter 9). Where the local authority has decided that the provision is appropriate, it should amend the plan to name the type of school that would be suitable but state that parents have made their own arrangements under Section 7 of the Education Act 1996.

Where a child or young person is a registered pupil and the parent decides to home educate, the parent must notify the school in writing that the child or young person is receiving education otherwise than at school and the school must then remove the pupil's name from the admission register. If the school is a special school, the local authority must give consent for the child's name to be removed, but this should not be a lengthy or complex process. There is no provision in law for a ‘trial period’ of home education.

Schools can make a referral to the EIS under local referral arrangements

Local authorities do not have the right of entry to the family home to check that the provision being made by the parents is appropriate and may only enter the home at the invitation of the parents. Parents should be encouraged to see this process as part of the authority’s overall approach to home education of pupils with SEN, including the provision of appropriate support, rather than an attempt to undermine the parents’ right to home educate. Local authorities should not assume that because the provision being made by parents is different from that which was being made or would have been made in school that the provision is necessarily unsuitable. Local authorities should also consider using their power to help parents make suitable provision.

For a child or young person with an EHC plan does not meet the child or young person’s needs. The local authority is required to intervene through the school attendance order framework ‘if it appears…that a child of compulsory school age is not receiving suitable education’. The serving of a school attendance order is a last resort if all attempts to improve provision are unsuccessful. ‘Suitable education’ means efficient full-time education suitable to the child or young person’s age, ability and aptitude and to any SEN he or she may have.

Can my child return to school at a later date if they have been educated at home?

Yes. Parents may approach a local school to see if they have a place available, or may contact us for information about available places. Even if they have not been covering the same material as children in school, home educated children often display a maturity, confidence and flexibility which helps them to integrate well.

If you decide at any point that your child should return to school you should contact us. Please bear in mind that Dudley secondary schools are very popular and there may be limited spaces available to new pupils in some areas of the borough.

Further help and support for home education

There are a number of voluntary organisations who can offer support to home educating families. 

Education Everywhere - helpline service with impartial advice and a friendly ear.

Christian Home Schooling - Tips and resources on Christian home schooling.

Education Otherwise - Articles and books on home-education and alternative learning systems.

HE Special UK - Largest UK membership organisation which provides support and information for families whose children are being educated at home.

Home Education - Information, articles, resources and mailing list for parents of children with special needs who would like to educate at home.

Home Education Advisory Service - A support group offering information for home educators including advice about educational materials, resources, GCSE examinations, special educational needs, information technology, and legal matters.

MuddlePuddle - Home education resources and ideas for parents with younger children.

Friends, Families and Travellers - National Charity.