Frequently Asked Questions About Home Educating

This information has kindly been lent to us by the South East Essex Home Education Group. Thanks Shirley!

Q. Is it legal to educate my child outside of state school?

A. Absolutely. Under Section 7 of the Education Act 1996:

The Parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable;

  1. To his age, ability and aptitude

  2. To any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

You aren't obliged to follow “traditional” school hours/terms or the National Curriculum but you may choose to if you want. (More information on this can be found here: http://curriculum.qca.org.uk/)

You have the right under European Law to educate your child or children according to your own religious, philosphical and spiritual beliefs.

The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms , Article 2 of protocol No 1 states:

No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and 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.

Q. Do I need to be a teacher or have any formal teaching qualifications?

A. No. All that is required of you (under Section 7 of the Education Act 1996) is that the education you provide your child or children is efficient, full time and suitable to age, ability, aptitude and any special educational needs. This is all the law requires an education to be - there are no further definitions.

Under s437 Education Act 1996, the LEA has a duty to act if it appears that any child of compulsory school age in its area is not receiving a suitable education.

Q. Do I need to obtain permission from the school, the Local Education Authority, or anyone else to educate my child from home?

A. You don't need to seek permission from, nor notify any official body, if your child has never attended school.

If you wish to deregister your child from school, you must inform the head teacher of your decision to home educate your child in writing in order for them to remove your child's name from their register.

The school will contact the LEA and notify them of your decision.

If you remove your child from school without informing the school in writing and your child remains on their register, without attending, this may result in you receiving a School Attendance Order as this is truancy.

Only if your child already attends a Special School or is subject to a School Attendance Order is LEA permission required. This may not be unreasonably withheld.

Q. Where can I get information and support on home educating?

A. Education Otherwise ( http://www.education-otherwise.org ) is a UK-based membership organisation which provides support and information for families whose children are being educated outside school, and for those who wish to uphold the freedom of families to take proper responsibility for the education of their children.

Free Range Education is a home education site which grew from the book, “Free Range Education - How Home Education Works”. This site is stacked with resources, links, information, qualified legal help and an e-mail support service called Ask FREd.

Home Education Org UK ( http://www.home-education.org.uk ) is a huge and comprehensive site put together by Mike Fortune-Wood, who's been educating his children since the mid-Nineties. He's been involved with helping edit the Elective Home Education Legal Guidelines as well as undertaking research into home education. Definitely worth a visit, but there's a lot there, so don't try to take it all in at once!