Education is compulsory - school is optional

Young girl playing with wooden blocksWelcome 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 - but if you need us in a hurry, here are our Helpline numbers:

  • England: 08445 867542, 08445 867543, 08445 867544
  • Wales: 08445 867545
  • Northern Ireland: 08445 867547
  • For media information, please email via the Contact page 

For all general enquiries about home education and starting to home educate that are not answered on the website or in our downloadable information sheets, please email our general enquiries address or call the Helpline in the first instance. The lines are staffed entirely by volunteers, who may sometimes not be available when you call. Please leave a message, and we will call you back as soon as possible.


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.

Important News - DfE Call for Evidence and Consultation

On 10 April 2018 the Department for Education issued a ‘Call for evidence on greater oversight of children whose parents elect to educate them at home, and consultation on revised DfE guidance documents.’ The consultation closes at 11:59pm on 2 July 2018.

The call for evidence regarding education otherwise than at school covers registration of children educated at home, the monitoring of home education provision and support for home educators.

DfE are asking for comments on two draft guidance documents about elective home education. The drafts are a significant and unwelcome splitting of guidance into one set for local authorities and the other for parents. These drafts are intended to replace the current well established and mostly correct ‘ Elective home education: guidelines for local authorities’.

We have opened a forum discussion for EO members to help inform the council's response, please join us at - - over the next several weeks.

EO Trustees