Home education in the UK

What is Home Education in the UK?

Home education in the UK is also known as Elective home education (EHE) and  is a choice made when a parent decides not to send their child to school full-time but assumes responsibility for making sure the child receives a full-time education other than at school.  

In the UK we use the term home education and for good reason because it is not the same as home schooling which is where school is replicated at home.  In the UK homeschooling  is recognised by the government as being when children remain on the school roll and receive a combination of support from schools, online resources and other resources parents may provide themselves.

However on my blog I often interchange the term home education and homeschool mainly because Google and people searching Google see both terms as interchangeable. 

Legal position 

In England as a parent you and not the state is responsible for ensuring that your child, if of compulsory school age, is properly educated.  Education does not have to be taken through attendance at school and you can make alternative arrangements for education of your child

There is no specific legislation that deals with home education however section 7 of the Education Act 1996 provides that:

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

  1. To his age, ability and aptitude and
  2. To any special Educational Needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise

Elective home education is a form of education otherwise than at school and this piece of legislation is the basis for the obligations of parents and allowing home education to be legal.

It is important if you are in the UK that you understand that there are different rules, legislation and processes if you live in England, Wales or Scotland. 

How to start if I decide to home educate

It is recommended to trial different types of lessons in the first few weeks to see what your child and you as the parent prefer and respond to.  For instance is your child a visual, physical, verbal or auditory learner.

In order to figure out the type of learner your child is try experimenting with different types of lessons, textbooks, online lessons, videos and hands-on activities. It is important to keep adapting your home education methods as what works now for your child may not work in the future.

Remember in the first 5 years of your child’s life you taught your children an entire language and introduced them to everything that they have learnt up to now. You may feel that you cannot answer all of their questions but try and remember that there are so many different forms of research nowadays, you can go to the library, ask a friend or browse the internet together. If your child wants to know about a particular subject then you can follow that interest together. Remember that you are not limited to a curriculum set out by the government.

Another good starting point is to read this post about things I had wish I had known before starting to Home Educate.

Do you have to follow the National Curriculum in the UK?

The national curriculum is not compulsory to follow as a home educator. Even in schools only state primary and secondary schools have to follow the national curriculum, schools that are academies, free schools and private schools do not have to follow the national curriculum.

Before Starting Home Education 

Before making the decision to home educate make sure that you do lots of research to help inform your thinking.  Research lots of tips on how to approach home education and look for online groups where other families can give advice.

Once you have reached your decision to home educate if your child is in school you will need to do one of the following depending on your child’s school. 

If your child is already in a mainstream school you will have to write a letter to the headteacher requesting to take them out. This request to take your child out of school must be accepted.

If your child is in a special education needs school you will need to get permission from the local authority to home educate your child.

If your child is in a mainstream school and has an educational health care plan (EHCP) you only need to write to the head of the school to deregister.

Please remember that to deregistration a child in England is different to Wales and Scotland. Please make sure you read the government guidelines below to help you know your rights as a parent regarding home education for each country. 

Home Education Guidance Government Websites