Enquiries and report check service: click here. Helpline: call 0300 1245690

Starting Out

Home Education Map Reading

If you are considering home educating your child, or have just decided to do so, the following frequently asked questions may be helpful. You can also download our fact sheet for further information.

Home education is the default position for all children, as a parent must register at a school if they wish to use one. It is of equal status in law to school education and a parent may elect to home educate their child at any point during the child’s compulsory education years.

There are no specific qualifications which parents are required to hold in order to home educate their child. In fact, only state schools are required to employ qualified teachers.

Parents who home educate have wide ranging levels of academic and vocational qualifications and some parents have no qualifications at all, but are nonetheless able to home educate their child successfully.

Home educating families are not required to follow a specific curriculum, including the National Curriculum. State schools must follow the National Curriculum, but this does not include academies.

Parents do not have to adopt a timetable and many families take quite a relaxed and informal approach, such as autonomous learning.

Home education takes many forms and can range from a highly structured approach, using the National Curriculum, to ‘unschooling’, or a mixture of methods.

Many families find that using a project-based approach covers a wide range of subjects and disciplines, whilst helping to develop essential research skills. Children must, however, be enabled to be literate and numerate, in accordance with their age, ability, aptitude and any special needs they may have.

No specific equipment, or facilities are required to home educate a child. The child need not for example, have a desk, a set classroom, laboratory equipment, or set materials. However, a child will learn better if given a quiet area without distractions in which to learn.

Parents often worry about how their child will learn subjects for which specialised equipment is used in schools, such as science subjects, but they need not do so, as there are a great many experiments which can be undertaken at home, using basics found in the kitchen, or tool box.

Our resources section on the Education Otherwise website has links to hundreds of resources recommended by parents. Education Otherwise has also arranged discounts for some resources which can be accessed from the same section.

There is no funding available for home educating parents.

Children in school spend most of their days in a group of others of the same age and similar background to themselves. Our society has developed to view that as the norm, but normal socialisation is very different to school socialisation. Home education provides a more natural form of socialisation for a child, as they will usually spend their time socialising within their families and their communities.

Many local home education groups can be found here and our lively Facebook group is a great way to find others local to you.

Home educated children can and do sit examinations such as GCSE and A levels. However, many home educating parents choose to arrange International GCSE (IGCSE) for their children, as these examinations are considerably less likely to involve a coursework element. IGCSE is offered by Edexcel and Cambridge examination boards.

If the child has never attended school, the parent need not normally notify any individual, or organisation that they are home educating their child, or intending to home educate their child.

If the child is enrolled at a mainstream school in England or Wales, the parent must send a notice to the school in writing. This applies regardless of whether the child has an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) (ALN in Wales). Please see below for children enrolled in special schools.

If parents do not live together, the parent with whom the child normally lives must discuss the decision with the child’s other parent, prior to commencing home education. Please see our fact sheet for parents who do not agree.

If the child is attending a special school under arrangements made by the local authority, the local authority’s consent is needed for the child’s name to be removed from the school roll.

Consent is requested in writing and may not be withheld unreasonably by the local authority, but it is important that the parent includes in their application details of how they will meet the child’s special needs. The local authority can refuse consent, but must give reasons for any refusal, which the parent can challenge.

If a child is at a special school under a private arrangement, the parent need only notify the head teacher, as with a child at a mainstream school.

Where a child is enrolled at a school in accordance with a school attendance order, the child may not be removed from the school roll unless that order is revoked. Of course, this does not apply to normal transition times when the child would no longer remain in any event.

If the parent wishes to home educate their child and the child is subject to a school attendance order, they must ask the local authority to revoke the order (or amend it to replace the school with a different school) before the child can be removed from the roll.

The child’s school must act upon the instruction of the parent and if they decline to do so, the parent can write to remind them of their duty to do so. A template letter can be found here and further information can be found in our fact sheet for teachers.

Your local authority may want to know what educational provision is being made for your child. Local authorities have no legal duty to monitor and supervise your home education, but they do have a duty to identify children not receiving education. For more information, please see our fact sheet.