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Guidance notes for parents who choose to home educate their child.

Are you considering educating your child outside the school system? What does the law say?

The law is found in 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”

The last two words are crucial. 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. 

Children and young people with SEN educated at home

Under Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 parents have the right to educate children, including children with SEN, at home. Home education must be suitable to the child’s age, ability, aptitude and SEN. Local authorities should work in partnership with, and support, parents to ensure that the SEN of these children are met where the local authority already knows the children have SEN or the parents have drawn the children’s special needs to the authority’s attention. Local authorities do not have a duty under section 22 of the Children and Families Act 2014 to assess every home educated child to see whether or not they have SEN.

In cases where local authorities and parents agree that home education is the right provision for a child or young person with an EHC plan, the plan should make clear that the child or young person will be educated at home. If it does then the local authority, under Section 42(2) of the Children and Families Act 2014, must arrange the special educational provision set out in the plan, working with the parents. 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, the local authority 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. The local authority 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.

Young people may also be educated at home in order to meet the requirement to participate in education and training until the age of 18. Local authorities should involve parents, as appropriate, in the reviews of EHC plans of home-educated young people who are over compulsory school age. 

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

  • Although it is not necessary, it is recommended that you go into school and talk things over with the headteacher

  • You 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.

Can a home educated child return to school at a later date?

Yes. Parents may approach a local school to see if they have a place available, or may contact the LA 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 the admissions team to discuss the availability of school places in your area. 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.

School Admissions Team

The Council House
Priory Road

0300 555 2345