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Home Education - Legal Information

An extract from the DfES website relating to educating at home - please note these views are not endorsed by this site and are provided for information purposes only - (see actual extract from the Education Act further below)

Educating Children at Home

Parents are allowed to educate their children at home instead of school if they choose to do so. Under English law, it is education that is compulsory, not schooling, though the vast majority of parents do choose to send their children to school.

The following guidelines are useful when considering educating children at home:

  • It is for parents to decide how they deliver home education. They are not required to follow the National Curriculum nor to keep to school hours. Parents are required by law, however, to ensure their child receives an efficient full time education, suitable to their age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs the child may have.
  • Although parents are not legally required to inform their local education authority (LEA) when they decide to educate their children at home, it is helpful if they do this. If their child is already enrolled in a school when they decide to home educate, parents must, however, notify the school concerned in writing that they intend to educate their child at home. It is also advisable, but not compulsory, for parents to inform their LEA of any significant changes in their circumstance relevant to the effective education of their child, such as a change of address.
  • The LEA will need to be satisfied that a child is receiving suitable education at home, and may ask to visit the family home to talk to the parent and child, and to look at examples of work. The LEA will need to be satisfied that the parent is willing and able to provide a suitable education. At the initial meeting the nature and frequency of future contact should be agreed.
  • LEAs have no automatic right of access to parents' home. Parents may wish to offer an alternative way of demonstrating that they are providing suitable education, for example through showing examples of work and agreeing to a meeting at another venue.
  • Where it appears to an LEA that a child of compulsory school age is not receiving efficient or suitable full-time education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, the LEA are under a duty to serve notice on the parent requiring them to satisfy the authority that their child is receiving suitable education "otherwise than at school". If the parents' reply is unsatisfactory, or if they fail to reply, the LEA may issue a school attendance order (SAO).
  • The National Curriculum tests and assessment arrangements are developed and administered by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), on behalf of the Secretary of State. Information to support these arrangements is provided both electronically and hard copy through the QCA website. You can also phone for their publications on 01787 884 444.
For further information from the DfES, visit their parents website here
Extract from Chapter I of the Education Act of 1996

©Crown Copyright 1996


PART I
GENERAL
CHAPTER I
THE STATUTORY SYSTEM OF EDUCATION
  Compulsory education
Duty of parents to secure education of children of compulsory school age. 7. 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.
   
Compulsory school age. 8. - (1) Subsections (2) and (3) apply to determine for the purposes of any enactment whether a person is of compulsory school age.
  (2) A person begins to be of compulsory school age when he attains the age of five.
  (3) A person ceases to be of compulsory school age at the end of the day which is the school leaving date for any calendar year-
 
(a) if he attains the age of 16 after that day but before the beginning of the school year next following,
 
(b) if he attains that age on that day, or
 
(c) (unless paragraph (a) applies) if that day is the school leaving date next following his attaining that age.
  (4) The Secretary of State may by order determine the day in any calendar year which is to be the school leaving date for that year.
   
  Education in accordance with parental wishes
Pupils to be educated in accordance with parents' wishes. 9. In exercising or performing all their respective powers and duties under the Education Acts, the Secretary of State, local education authorities and the funding authorities shall have regard to the general principle that pupils are to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents, so far as that is compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and training and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure.
Extract from Chapter II of the Education Act of 1996

©Crown Copyright 1996


CHAPTER II
SCHOOL ATTENDANCE
  School attendance orders
School attendance orders. 437. - (1) If it appears to a local education authority that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, they shall serve a notice in writing on the parent requiring him to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is receiving such education.
  (2) That period shall not be less than 15 days beginning with the day on which the notice is served.
  (3) If-
 
(a) a parent on whom a notice has been served under subsection (1) fails to satisfy the local education authority, within the period specified in the notice, that the child is receiving suitable education, and
 
(b) in the opinion of the authority it is expedient that the child should attend school, the authority shall serve on the parent an order (referred to in this Act as a "school attendance order"), in such form as may be prescribed, requiring him to cause the child to become a registered pupil at a school named in the order.
  (4) A school attendance order shall (subject to any amendment made by the local education authority) continue in force for so long as the child is of compulsory school age, unless-
 
(a) it is revoked by the authority, or
 
(b) a direction is made in respect of it under section 443(2) or 447(5).
  (5) Where a maintained or grant-maintained school is named in a school attendance order, the local education authority shall inform the governing body and the head teacher.
  (6) Where a maintained or grant-maintained school is named in a school attendance order, the governing body (and, in the case of a maintained school, the local education authority) shall admit the child to the school.
  (7) Subsection (6) does not affect any power to exclude from a school a pupil who is already a registered pupil there.
  (8) In this Chapter-
 
"maintained school" means any county or voluntary school or any maintained special school which is not established in a hospital; and
 
"suitable education", in relation to a child, means efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he may have.
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