Education is compulsory - school is optional

Welcome to the EO website

Though education is compulsory in the UK for children between the ages of five and sixteen, school is not. Many families prefer to educate their children otherwise than at school, and it is their right under UK law to do so. Home educating families do not have to follow the National Curriculum and there is no single 'right' way to educate a child at home.

This site provides information and resources for home educating families and those considering home education for the first time, including guidance on home education and the law, SEN and disabilities; downloadable fact sheets covering many aspects of HE; and links to local HE groups across the UK. If you are new to HE, you might like to start by reading our 'Frequently Asked Questions'. Do you need teaching qualifications to educate your own child? How do you withdraw a child from school? Can a home educated child take public exams? What about socialisation? The answers are all here. When you begin home education, you might find our downloadable information sheets useful for more detailed support in specific areas. 


If you have questions that aren't answered here, please email us using the form on the 'Contact' page or ring the helpline number.

If you find this site helpful, please consider becoming a member of EO and helping to support our work: we are a registered charity, funded entirely from members' subscriptions.You can join either online or by post, and UK family membership costs only £17 per year.  For more information go to the Join EO page.

Contact EO

Contact details for all EO postholders appear on the 'Contact' page.

We operate a telephone Helpline for queries related to Home Education. This service is staffed entirely by volunteers who, in most cases, are actively engaged in home educating their own children and may not be available when you call. Before calling the Helpline, please ensure that you have looked through this website for the information you need. If possible, please email our general enquiries address with your query in the first instance, as this allows our volunteers to respond when they are free to give your query their full attention and to send you information and useful links via email. Please state your query in your email so that it can be answered - do not simply email us your phone number and ask us to call you back.  

Helpline numbers


Home Education in Scotland and Northern Ireland

Home Education legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland differs from that in England and Wales.

Schoolhouse is Scotland's national home education support charity, and a well-established and well respected source of independent information and support for anyone interested in home education there. For more information, visit the Schoolhouse website

Home Education Northern Ireland is an umbrella group for home educators and HE groups in Northern Ireland, and was recently involved in co-ordinating the response to the consultation on the Draft Policy on Elective Home Education published by the five Boards there. Visit the HEdNI website for more information.


EO Provides Guidance for Families of School Children Learning at Home

Education Otherwise has provided guidance for families currently learning at home due to the COVID-19 emergency.  The guidance addresses common questions and issues that we are receiving from parents.

This guidance is being sent to local authorities for circulation among schools and families in their area.  It is also available to download from our website in English and in Welsh.


Coronavirus School Closures and Home Education

Some parents feel that, with schools closed, they have become home educators. This is not the case. 

Home education is a lifestyle choice that requires a significant commitment in terms of time and resources, it is not something that parents should decide to do without a great deal of research and thought. The current situation is causing stress to families who are understandably worried about their child's education and stressful times are not times when such far-reaching decisions should be made.

If a child is registered at a school, they are not a home educated child but remain a school pupil. The school still has a responsibility to provide education to the child and parents should follow instructions from their child's school. Local Authority education departments and  Schools should be signposting parents to resources, services and support whilst children who are registered pupils are unable to attend school. 

It is important that parents maintain as much normality as possible. This could be by maintaining school hours for learning as much as possible and by ensuring that their child does the work set by the school. Parents should encourage their child, but most of all, reassure their child and follow Government and relevant NHS advice.  Remember, also, that this is a stressful time both for families and for children.  Very few people learn well under stress and allowance should be given for the strange circumstances.  Many families will also be experiencing work from home for the first time and many need to find a balance between the competing responsibilities of work and caring for the children.

This is also not a normal time for home educators.  Despite the name, a large part of home education takes place outside of the home.  Groups and activities that home educators are used to participating in are also closed; as are many of the museums, art galleries, libraries and other places for educational visits.

If a child is becoming bored, there are many resources available online which are educational, such as BBC bitesize, Khan Academy and others, many of which are free of charge. These can give children a chance to maintain their interest in education ready for when they can return to school. Please see the Education Otherwise resources list for further information on these resources.

If this experience makes parents feel that home education is right for them, they should think carefully about how they will manage the commitment and research what is involved at length. At that stage, Education Otherwise can offer advice and guidance through our web pages and our facebook group The home education community is providing support to parents of school children who are concerned about their child's education, through social media. 

Parents looking for support for schooled children will also find that a number of social media groups have been created specifically to assist parents of schooled children during the enforced absence from school.