No matter how much experience we have, parents and carers will sometimes have questions relating to home education and the following should provide answers to most of these. You can also download our fact sheet for further information.
Yes, as although there is no legal basis for the regular monitoring of home education, the local authority can make an informal enquiry and parents should respond to such enquiries.
Any enquiry must be reasonable and proportionate. What that means is that the local authority must not make demands of the parent, for anything more than the minimum information required to ascertain that the education provision is suitable.
If the local authority writes to the parent sending forms, they are making an informal enquiry of the parent. The parent should respond, but it is a matter for them as to what form their response takes. Education Otherwise recommends writing an education report.
No, the local authority has no automatic right of access to your home or to your children simply because you are home educating, nor are you required to meet with them elsewhere.
No, the local authority can ask for samples of the child’s work, but parents are not required to provide these and a competent education officer will be able to accept that education provision is suitable on the basis of an education report. Parents may find our letter which explains the position to the local authority helpful.
No, the local authority can ask for such a report, but may not insist upon it.
It is a matter for the parent to decide what they should put into an education report, but our fact sheet a may prove to be helpful.
If the local authority writes to the parent to state that the home education provision is not suitable, the parent should ask for details of the authority’s specific concerns. Where the stated concerns are reasonable and proportionate, the parent should provide information to demonstrate that the education is suitable, in the areas which are under question. Our template letter may be helpful.
The local authority must make reasonable effort to resolve any concerns informally, as if it did not do so and went straight to formal measures (and particularly if it had a policy to act in that way) the local authority would be acting unlawfully.
Once the parent has details of the local authority’s concerns and where those concerns are reasonable and proportionate, it is important that they provide information to demonstrate that the education is suitable, in the areas which are under question.
When sending further information in response to receipt of a school attendance order, parents should ask the local authority to revoke the school attendance order. As each case is individual, parents are advised to contact Education Otherwise should they need assistance with this.
If the local authority declines to revoke the school attendance order, a parent can ask the Secretary of State for Education to consider revoking it. Unfortunately, the DfE rarely revokes a school attendance order and has in fact not revoked such an order for several years.
If the local authority is citing concerns which are not supported by legislation and guidance, the parent should write to them to explain why they feel that the authority is acting unreasonably.
Parents find it very frightening to have enforcement proceedings served on them, but in many cases it can be an opportunity for the parent to provide their own information to the Court, together with a well presented description of the education provision. This can demonstrate to the Court that the education provision is suitable and the Court will take an independent view of the parent’s evidence. Further information is available in our fact sheet.
Any data sharing by the local authority has to comply with current legislation like the ‘GDPR’, the Data Protection Act 2018 and human rights law. A local authority can not rely on its own local policy to share data.
Home education is not a safeguarding issue and is not cause for referral to Children’s Social Services. In fact, home educated children are no more likely to be subject to genuine child protection concerns, than are other children. Further information can be found in our fact sheet and parents may find it helpful to refer the social worker to our information for social work professionals.
Medical professionals rarely understand home education and may misguidedly be negative about it. Parents may find it helpful to refer to our fact sheet.
Family members often do not understand home education and may be critical of parents’ choice to home educate. Our fact sheet may help them to understand and to be more supportive.
Legislation relating to truancy patrols does not apply to home educated children and parents should state that the child is home educated and go on their way. Parents are not obliged to give their details to a police officer stopping them as part of a truancy patrol. Further information can be found in our fact sheet.
In England, most areas offer part time college places for home educated young people aged 14 to 16. This is at the discretion of the college and parents should approach the college to request a place.
Parents should also be aware that some colleges routinely report home educated children to the local authority as part of their safeguarding policy. There is no legislative basis for this stance, but if it forms part of college policy and the parent accepts the policy, they are agreeing to their data being shared.
Restrictions on employment of young people differ between local authority areas and parents must check their own local policy. It is illegal for young people under 13 to work, other than in television, theatre, or modelling. Children working in these areas will need a performance licence which is issued by the local authority.
Young people must also not work before 7.00am, after 7.00pm, or for more than two hours on a school day or a Sunday. They cannot do any job that may affect their health and safety or interfere with their education.
Young people may also not work in any business, including the family business, without the employer notifying the local authority and obtaining a work permit.
Home educated children can do work experience, but it must be for a short period only, or it may be considered to be employment and require a work permit.
Yes, although a young person who is aged 16 by the last day of August, ceases to be of compulsory school age on the last day of June that year, they can continue to be home educated.
Yes, you can be entitled to Child Benefit for a young person aged 16, 17, 18 or 19 who is in full-time non-advanced education, but you must notify the child benefit office that they are staying in education.
To qualify, the home education must include an average of more than 12 hours a week of supervised study during term time, not counting breaks for meals and homework, or for at least 540 hours in any 12 month period.
For a home educated young person to qualify, home education must have started before they reached age 16 unless the child has an EHCP. Our fact sheet may be helpful.
The three primary ways for a young person to participate are: (1) full-time study through home education, in a school, college, or with a training provider; (2) full-time work or volunteering (twenty hours or more) combined with part-time education, or training leading to relevant regulated qualifications; or (3) an apprenticeship, traineeship, or supported internship.
The local authority may not insist that a parent provide information relating to a 16 to 18 year old and there is no enforcement available against the young person, if they do not comply.
Young people who have attained level 3 qualifications equivalent to two ‘A’ levels, are exempt from this requirement.