Home educated young people aged 14-16 in England are able to attend college and the Government (ie the Education Skills Funding Agency) will pay for the course. It is up to the colleges whether or not to admit under-16s. These students can do any course agreed by the college, not just a designated 14-16 course. Many colleges do not offer GCSE courses.
The parent retains responsibility and so the college does not have to make special arrangements for pastoral care or offer a full curriculum or have a certain level of Ofsted grade. Home education courses must be part time only. Colleges will use the post-16 funding formula for home educated 14-16s. GOV.UK 14-16 page
In addition to the home educated option, a very small number of colleges offer “direct entry” at 14 which are full time courses intended to replace school where the rules are quite different.
There is no national list of colleges which take home educated under-16s. I keep an informal list
Cheshire College South and West
BCA Berkshire College of Agriculture
WCG (Warwickshire/Worcestershire) firstname.lastname@example.org
Cambridge Regional College
New City College London
North Lindsey College, Scunthorpe contact Jeanette Walker, 14-16s Coordinator
City of Bristol College
Stratford College, East London
City and Islington College
Truro and Penwith College Cornwall, minimum age 15, contact Tamsin Merritt
South Essex College – email email@example.com
Calderdale Halifax, West Yorkshire
South Leicestershire College
College of North West London
City College Norwich, contact Natalie Farrell
Northumberland College, contact Helen Norris Director of 14-16
Walsall College, contact Jimmy Hayward
Warwickshire College, contact Ruby Soodan (or Chris Gately)
East Kent College + Mid Kent College
Macclesfield College contact Rachel Smith
Lewisham and Southwark contact Juliette Grassby-Lewis.
TCAT Telford College Arts Technology, Shropshire, contact Hannah Smith
East Durham College GCSEs
Nottingham College contact Jo Edgerton. https://www.nottinghamcollege.ac.uk/courses/courses-for-14-16
Plumpton College, East Sussex
Rotherham College (home ed 14-16 infill places) contact Gus Lastra
Easton and Otley College, Norfolk and Suffolk
Telford College Arts and Technology
New College Swindon
Peterborough Regional College
West Suffolk College email Bex Hammond, Programme Lead for Elective Home Education Courses
South Devon College level 2 functional skills/GCSEs English and Maths 14-16 home ed + possibility of other GCSEs subject to entrance requirements. firstname.lastname@example.org
CSV Redditch, CSV Worcester, Worcester 6th Form
West Berkshire College
Milton Keynes College (currently querying this)
West Lancashire College
Wirral Metropolitan College
South Staffordshire College
Lambeth College, ask for Leanne Allen or Sharon Carnegie
Abingdon Witney College
Vision Studio School Mansfield
South Gloucestershire College
City College Oxford
Banbury and Bicester College
Institutions intending to enrol 14 to 16-year-olds on FULL TIME COURSES (ie not the part-time home education option) in the 2023-24 academic year – known as Direct Entry – are listed here (last updated August 2023).
South and City College Birmingham
Bishop Auckland College
East Durham College
Leeds City College
East Kent Group
New City College
Nescot College Surrey
Sir George Monoux College
South Devon College
South Gloucestershire and Stroud College
West Thames College
GOV.UK 14-16 PAGE (scroll a long way down the page!)
Do I have to contact each college individually?
Yes. If you get a good response from your local college I would be very grateful if you could let me know
What is the position for home educated under-16s wanting to go to college?
The rules are different for home educated young people because the parent retains responsibility and so the college does not have to make special arrangements for pastoral care or offer a full curriculum. DfE says arrangements are between the parents and the college and do not need to involve the local authority at all.
What is the difference between in-fill and discrete courses
In-fill means the student joins a class where the other students are already over 16 and the college may take into account the impact on the rest of the class and the difficulties in catching up after the start of the academic year. In contrast, discrete courses are specially set up for other students from a similar background.
What is the deadline for claiming funding
14-16 home educated and in-fill students are processed in the same way as post-16. The deadline for submitting the ILR RO6 funding claim for home educated 14-16s academic year is February (The timing is different for directly recruited 14-16s)
What does the college put on the ILR form?
There are 2 learning delivery monitoring (LDM) codes for use on the ILR: LDM code 320 (14 to 16 ESFA direct funded students); LDM code 321 (14 to 16 home-educated students). SOURCE
Who should I talk to at the college?
It depends. It may be best to talk to the principal or the person responsible for 14-19s. It is probably best to avoid open days/evenings unless they are designated home education events, as whoever you speak to is unlikely to know about the home education funding
How should I approach the college/what should I say?
You can either ask on behalf of your own personal situation, explaining the motivation and interests of the particular young person – together with information about the new funding rules for home educated under-16s – or you can ask the general question “do you take under-16s” or “do you take home educated under-16s”. I think the former is more likely to succeed
What should I take to show the college about the rules?
You will need a copy of the information below about the special funding for home educated 14-16s
“Colleges sometimes admit electively home-educated students aged 14 or 15 to take courses on an in-fill basis by arrangement with the local authority or their parent or carer. If these courses are at level 3 and approved for delivery to 14 to 16-year-olds – which can be checked using the find a learning aim service and ensuring it is eligible in the 14 to 16 ESFA funding stream – they are funded by entering the student on the ILR. The student then counts for lagged funding in the following year in the same way as if they were a 16 to 18-year-old. These students can be enrolled and funded only for part-time courses – if an institution recruits them for full-time courses, they are no longer home-educated and the institution will need to meet the criteria for direct recruitment. Colleges may make the local arrangements for these students that they consider appropriate – there is no nationally prescribed model for provision. They are not subject to the arrangements for the full-time enrolment of 14 to 16-year-olds in further education and sixth-form colleges. Further information on elective home education and guidance for local authorities is available.” SOURCE
What if there’s nothing about home education courses on the college website?
The college is very unlikely to have anything on the website about home educated 14-16s although a few do
The college says it doesn’t take under-16s
While it may be true that the college doesn’t take ANY 14-16s, what it’s more likely to mean is that they have decided against going in for the full Government 14-16s scheme, but that wouldn’t prevent them from taking an individual home educated under-16, because there are special rules for home educated young people
The college says it isn’t taking 14-16s this year
If there is a specific reference to “this year” it probably means that the college decided against going in for the full Government 14-16s scheme, but this wouldn’t prevent them from taking an individual home educated under-16, because there are special rules for home educated young people
The college says it can only take under-16s who are referred by the local authority
Legally it’s NOT the case that under-16s have to be referred by the LA because any college which receives funding from the Education Skills Funding Agency can take a home educated under-16 and receive funding from ESFA. It may nevertheless be a matter of policy at the college, so you need to establish whether they have misunderstood (or are not aware of) the rules for home educated young people or whether they have a set policy.
The college says there aren’t any GCSE courses, only vocational courses
This may very well be the case. Many colleges don’t routinely offer GCSEs as it is expected that these will be studied at school. Where colleges DO offer GCSE courses they may be one-year resit courses. However, it may also be the case that the college believes or has decided that under-16s can only do the special courses set up for 14-16 whereas in fact home educated young people can also do courses which are set up for post-16s
Can I do one subject at one college and another subject at a different college?
Yes. BUT. DfE says students can only be enrolled at one institution (the “home” institution), and that one institution takes on the responsibility for claiming all the relevant funding for the student.
The college says I have to take a test to see if I’m at the right level for the course. What does this mean?
Because GCSE courses tend to be re-sit courses and/or one-year courses it is assumed that the student is already familiar with the material. There may be fewer teaching hours than on a standard course so the college may want the student to be already working at GCSE level. The assessment is likely to be BKSB.
Is it worth asking the home education department at the local authority about under-16s college places?
Yes it is worth doing this, but the LA may not keep the information you want.
Is it just Further Education colleges or can alternative providers claim the funding as well?
Alternative Providers who receive funding direct from the Education Skills Funding Agency, are eligible to claim the funding in the same way as Further Education Colleges.
Does this apply to Wales as well?
No, the rules for 14-16s college published by DfE apply only to England
Do home educated students have to do English and Maths as part of the college course?
No. The rules are different for home educated young people under the age of 16 doing a part-time course because the parent retains responsibility and so the college does not have to make special arrangements for pastoral care or offer a full curriculum. Where a student is on a full-time course the college may insist that English and Maths form part of the course. This needs to be discussed with the college if the student has already got English/Maths qualifications or is studying at home and taking these exams elsewhere as an external candidate. However, ultimately it is up to the college whether or not to accept a particular home educated student under the age of 16, there is no entitlement to a course or right to a place.
Can the LA insist that a college convenes and holds EHCP reviews without the LA providing extra resources for the college to do this, and if the LA isn’t allowed to do this, what can the college do about it?
LAs can request but not require the college hold the review meeting on their behalf. Alternatively there may be a requirement on the institution to do so as part of their funding arrangements. Where the college do not agree to hold the review meeting, the LA can make alternative arrangements for the review meeting, such as holding it in their offices, or another mutually convenient venue. The college must co-operate with the process.
How do we prove home education status?
The college may not be aware that there is no legal requirement to register with the council. If you are ‘on the books’ with the council you can ask for a letter/email to pass to the college but otherwise you can write and sign your home education declaration. If you encounter any difficulties, please get in touch
Will the college adapt the course if it is not suitable for under-16s?
There is no requirement for colleges to make adaptations if the student is taking an infill place. For example GCSE resit or shorter courses may be designed for adult learners and some parents may find set texts unacceptable for younger learners
Can I start a course after the beginning of the academic year?
Yes, providing there is a place available, colleges do admit students at varying times throughout the year, not just in September
Can local authorities still arrange for 14-16s year olds to be admitted to college?
Yes. The LA High Needs Block pays for this, which is why some local authorities prefer the home education funding to be used instead as this comes from national government not from the LA.
Will the college report absence/exclusion to the local authority?
The GOV.UK 14-16 page says “The college shall work collaboratively with appropriate local authorities in order to share information about the attendance and/or absences (both authorised and unauthorised) as local authorities may deem necessary. Local authorities can then consider if it is necessary to take any action in light of their duties under sections 436A and 437 of the Education Act 1996, which relate to children of compulsory school age who may not be receiving suitable education.”
Can young people living in Wales go to college in England
Some English colleges and education providers are located close to the borders with Wales and Scotland, and may have recruitment areas that normally include areas outside England. Alternatively, the typical ‘travel to learn’ pattern for students may include an education provider over the border. In these circumstances, I understand there is no issue with providers claiming funding for students.