Home Education & The Law

Legal references on this page apply to England.

Home Education Law in England

No Need to Ask Permission to Home Educate

Parents don't have to request permission to home educate or notify anyone, but if your child is in school and you want to home educate, you need to tell the headteacher in writing to take your child's name off the school roll. It doesn't make any difference if your child has a statement of SEN, unless it is a special school. Families aren't required to produce examples of 'work' for inspection or meet anyone from the council. Parents aren't eligible for funding when children are home educated.

No Statutory Duty to Monitor Home Education on Routine Basis

Local authorities have a duty to make arrangements to identify children outside school who aren't receiving education but there is no statutory duty to monitor home education on a routine basis. Suitable education is defined in law as education which is suitable to the child's age, ability, aptitude and special needs.

Local Authorities

There are 152 local authorities and there is a big difference between the number of home educated children in each LA area and in local authorities attitude to home educating families Local authorities don't get any funding for home education services but money can be used from the high needs block

Home Education Guidelines

The Government's home education guidelines say that the parent is not required to provide any particular type of education and is under no obligation to:

teach the National Curriculum
provide a broad and balanced education
have a timetable
have premises equipped to any particular standard
set hours during which education will take place
have any specific qualifications
make detailed plans in advance
observe school hours, days or terms
give formal lessons
mark work done by their child
formally assess progress or set development objectives
reproduce school type peer group socialisation
match school-based, age-specific standards.

The Government Guidelines tell local authorities what they should do "if it appears that a suitable education is not being provided".[paragraphs 3.4 to 3.6] This doesn't mean that local authorities should routinely try and monitor or "evaluate" home education. Although local authorities may initially ask for some information, this isn't the same as a formal notice under section 437.

Children Missing Education Guidance

The latest version of Children Missing Education Guidance states that:

"Local authorities can use other duties and powers to support their work on CME. These include:...Serving notice on parents requiring them to satisfy the LA that their child is receiving suitable education when it comes to the local authority’s attention that a child might not be receiving such education"[p.6 CME Guidance November 2013]

School Attendance Orders

A School Attendance Order is only to be served after after all reasonable steps have been taken to try to resolve the situation. In most cases the SAO is threatened but not actually issued.

Section 7 Education Act 1996

Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 states that:

The parent 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.

Duty to identify children not receiving education (CME)

Section 436A of the Education Act 1996 states that:

A local education authority must make arrangements to enable them to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children in their area who are of compulsory school age but—

(a) are not registered pupils at a school, and

(b) are not receiving suitable education otherwise than at a school.

Special Needs and Home Education

Children with special educational needs have an equal right to be educated at home. There will be a new SEN system and a new Code of Practice and regulations in September 2014. There is a good introduction to the changes here

Children who already have a statement of SEN will be transferred to the new system between 2015 and 2017. The local authority does have the power to arrange for a child's special educational provision to be made otherwise than at school, although this only happens rarely.

The fact that a school is named in Part 4 of the statement doesn't mean that the child is automatically registered. Nor does naming the school in Part 4 mean that a child will be obliged to attend the named school in future. Where a child has a statement of special needs the local authority has a duty to review the statement annually. The statement isn't enforceable on the parent.

Link Reference

This article is http://edyourself.org/articles/helaw.php. The following links to other websites are contained in the article, displayed as citations to aid you in printing the document.

  1. Read archived page as pdf http://edyourself.org/articles/helaw.pdf
  2. the high needs block http://edyourself.org/articles/funding.php
  3. The Government's home education guidelines http://edyourself.org/articles/guidelines.php#firstcontact
  4. The Government Guidelines http://edyourself.org/articles/guidelines.php#ifappearsnotsuitableed
  5. School Attendance Order http://edyourself.org/articles/sao.php
  6. Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1996/56/section/7
  7. Section 436A of the Education Act 1996 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/40/section/4
  8. a new SEN system http://edyourself.org/articles/candfact2014.php
  9. here http://www.specialneedsjungle.com/sen-law-douglas-silas/
  10. only happens rarely. http://edyourself.org/articles/2013foissenandlocationehe.php
  11. http://edyourself.org/articles/deregistration.php http://edyourself.org/articles/deregistration.php
  12. http://edyourself.org/articles/guidelines.php http://edyourself.org/articles/guidelines.php
  13. http://ehe-sen.org.uk/statement.php http://ehe-sen.org.uk/statement.php
  14. Coram Children's Legal Centre Fact Sheet on School Exclusions http://www.childrenslegalcentre.com/index.php?page=school_exclusions
  15. Home education and SEN website http://www.ehe-sen.org.uk/
  16. All Party Group Home Education Meeting SEN and Disability, November 2012 http://edyourself.org/articles/allpartygrouphomeeducation.php#apgsen
  17. Support list for home education and SEN http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/HOMEEDUCATIONANDSPECIALNEEDS/info
  18. Legal changes to SEN system 2014-17 http://edyourself.org/articles/candfact2014.php
  19. SEN Tribunal Forms from Ministry of Justice website http://www.justice.gov.uk/forms/hmcts/send
  20. Baroness Ashton on parents not having to make provision specified in statement http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200102/ldhansrd/vo011029/text/11029-21.htm
  21. David Wolfe, Matrix Chambers: SEN Case Law http://davidwolfe.org.uk/SEN%20Noddy%20Guide%20November%202012.pdf
  22. Ipsea's Guide to SEN Law http://www.ipsea.org.uk/Apps/Content/html/?fid=46
  23. http://autistickidsgrowup.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/drafting-the-s139a-learning-difficulty-assessment-lda-for-16-25-year-olds/ http://autistickidsgrowup.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/drafting-the-s139a-learning-difficulty-assessment
  24. http://www.he-special.org.uk/