Can I home school my child?

Parents may have worries about their children contracting the coronavirus (COVID-19) and this may motivate some parents to consider ‘home schooling’ their children.

Before removing children from school roll, we encourage parents to give careful consideration to home schooling, balancing the needs and risks of the whole child in respect of their education, wellbeing and wider development.

Ask your school about how they are reducing the risk of transmission, as this might allay some of your anxieties about children attending school.

Here’s some information if you or your child still have worries – SUPPORTING YOUNG PEOPLE’S MENTAL HEALTH DURING TIMES OF DISRUPTION

Information about Elective Home Education (EHE)

What does the law say about home education?

Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 places a duty on parents to ensure that their child of compulsory school age receives a suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

Department for Education expectations for Elective Home Education (EHE)

In the context of the pandemic (COVID-19), the Department for Education expects Local Authorities, schools, parents and carers, and other key professionals (such as social workers) to coordinate meetings before parents make a final decision to home educate.  This is to ensure parents fully consider the best interests of the child and that they fully understand the implications of withdrawing their child from the school roll.

Implications of withdrawing children from school roll

There are a number of implications, here are a few.

  • Parents assume full financial responsibility.
  • Their child may not be able to return to the same school if they change their mind.
  • Support from schools will not continue, including any special educational needs.
  • In cases where Local Authorities are not satisfied a child is receiving suitable education, the parent may be issued with a School Attendance Order.
  • Where concerns over suitability of education extend to safeguarding matters, a Care Order could be made to the court.
What is Elective Home Education (EHE)?

This is when parents choose to educate their children at home.  This can happen unless the child is subject to a School Attendance Order.

Elective Home Education does not need the agreement of schools or Local Authorities, unless the child is attending a special school under a Statement of Special Educational Needs or an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP).  In these situations, the Local Authority must be informed if parents are considering removal of children from school roll.

Children with a Statement of SEN or EHCP

If the provision is named in the Statement or EHCP, the Local Authority is under an obligation to arrange that education for the child.  If deemed appropriate, there is no obligation for the parent to make or arrange the educational provision specified in the Statement or EHCP.

If a child attends a special school and this was arranged by the Local Authority, the Local Authority must give consent for the child’s name to be removed from the school’s roll.

A parent can request a statutory assessment or reassessment of their child’s needs in the same way as a child attending school.

If the child’s Statement or EHCP names a school but the parent has chosen to electively home educate, the Local Authority must be satisfied that the education is suitable and will review the Statement or EHCP annually.

What does ‘suitable education’ mean?

The education must be:

  • Full-time
  • Efficient – to achieve what it sets out to achieve
  • Suitable – to the child’s age, ability and aptitude and any special educational needs they may have.

The education must equip the child for life within the community and must not limit the child’s options later in life.

What are the expected standards of home education?
  • There is no obligation to follow the national curriculum or the same syllabus/topics as school.
  • There is no obligation to have rooms or premises equipped to a particular standard.
  • The school day does not need to match school terms, days or hours or have a scheduled timetable.

There is no need to be registered with the Department for Education or be inspected by Ofsted.

What are the expectations of Local Authorities?

If you decide to electively home educate your child, Local Authorities expect:

  • Consistent involvement of parents or other significant others;
  • Recognition of the child’s needs, attitudes and aspirations;
  • Opportunities for the child to be stimulated by their learning experiences;
  • Access to resources/materials required to provide home education for the child.
What can the Local Authority do to check the standard of home education?

Under Section 436A Education and Inspections Act 2006, Local Authorities must make arrangements to identify children of compulsory school age in their area who are not registered pupils at a school and are not receiving suitable education otherwise than at school.

What measures can Local Authorities take if they do not think children are receiving suitable education?

Under Section 437(1) Education Act, Local Authorities will intervene if it appears that parents are not providing a suitable education.  They can serve a notice in writing asking the parent to demonstrate that the child is receiving a suitable education no less than from the date that the notice is served.

School Attendance Orders (SAO)

If the parent fails to satisfy the Local Authority within the notice period that they are providing a suitable education, the Local Authority can serve a School Attendance Order (SAO) on them.  The SAO can name a school that the child should attend.  This is usually a last resort and should only be done when all reasonable steps have been exhausted.

The parent can provide evidence at any time to request that the order is revoked.  If parents are dissatisfied with the conduct of the Local Authority, they can make a complaint to the Secretary of State for Education.

Will I receive financial support to home educate my child?

No, the parent assumes full financial responsibility for the home of their child, including the costs of any public examinations.

Other things to consider about home education
  • Embedding biases: If you are your child’s only teacher, you could reinforce your biases. Attending school with others can give children a broader section of views and help them formulate an independent view.
  • Conflicting responsibilities: If you are trying to fill both the role of teacher and parent, you could find yourself being stretched to achieve both.
  • Restricting your child’s learning: you may not be able to provide the diversity of learning experiences provided at school e.g. learning with other children and adults.
  • Constraining your child’s learning: you may not be able to provide the diversity and breadth of learning the same as provided by schools.
  • Mental health and wellbeing: educating at home, being together with your child/ren all of the time, may make things emotionally difficult for you and your child. It can be of benefit to both you and your child to have respite from each other. It can also be especially important for children to have time away from home, enabling them a sense of independence.
  • Buying school supplies: home education means buying and replenishing materials (pens, pencils, paper, IT and software, educational materials), which can be very expensive.
  • Updating your knowledge: educating your child to a suitable level of education means the need for you to stay updated in regards of your knowledge to ensure that you provide your child with a suitable education.
  • Motivating your child’s curiosity: keeping children’s curiosity isn’t always easy, reducing social opportunity also reduces the social aspect of learning, reflecting and finding out with others, all of which are important aspects to help children consolidate learning.
  • Arranging social activities: school is about social and emotional learning.  A home educating parent is responsible not only for their child’s education, but also for creating opportunities to meet and interact with other children.