Home Education Frequently Asked Questions

This information is based on the law in England.

If you are in Scotland, please contact Schoolhouse, www.schoolhouse.org.uk

If you are in Northern Ireland please contact www.hedni.org

question I’d like to consider Home Education — but doesn’t the law say that you have to send your children to school?

A The law says that children must receive an education — not that they must go to school. Whether the child is at school or home educated, it is the responsibility of the parents to see that this education is provided.

question Once we've made the decision to Home Educate what happens next?

A Most families who choose to electively home educate their SEN children have withdrawn them from school. Parents who choose to electively home educate and take responsibility for their child’s education need to ensure that this is done correctly. It is important to send a letter of deregistration to the headteacher of the child’s school as soon as you remove your child.

The letter should contain this information: “....as from the **/**/**, (child's name) will be educated at home, in accordance with Section 7 of the 1996 Education Act. I would be grateful therefore if you would remove his/her name from the register of (School Name)......”

It is a good idea to hand deliver the letter and ask for a signed receipt - if this isn't practical then parents should send the letter by recorded delivery.

See Case Study 1 The Smith Family (the page opens in a new browser window)

If you live in Scotland the law is slightly different and parents should seek further advice on this. See: www.schoolhouse.org.uk

You do not have to inform the LA of your decision to Home Educate. It is the responsibility of the school to inform the LA.

question My child has a statement of special needs — can I still home educate?

A Yes.

Unless the Statement specifies provision at home to be made by the LA, the statement becomes a legally unenforceable document. The LA will no longer have a statutory duty to arrange the provision specified in the Statement and nor will parents (who have no statutory duty to provide such anywhere anyway).

The LA are still under a duty to review the statement at least annually, until such time as they cease to maintain it. Where a child is established in elective Home Education, it is reasonable for the LA to conclude that it is no longer necessary for them to make provision or to continue to maintain the statement. Parents who no longer seek provision from the LA could write to the LA asking them to cease to maintain the statement, as it is no longer appropriate.

See Case Study 2 The Mason Family (the page opens in a new browser window)

question My child attends a special school, will I be allowed to Home Educate?

A Yes. Although the process of deregistration a child from a Special School is different.

Where a child is a registered pupil at a special school under arrangements made by the LA (so this excludes those who attend special school placements not funded or arranged by the LA), LA ‘consent’ is required to delete the child’s name from the register of the school. This is not permission to Home Educate per se. Parents have the right to electively Home Educate (s7) and do not need permission to Home Educate......but will commit an offence for which they can be taken to court if the child’s name remains on the register of a school (or PRU) and absence with leave is not granted (irregular or non-attendance s444).

See Case Study 3 The Chambers Family (the page opens in a new browser window)

You may feel that you want support if you are considering withrawing a child from a special school. Education Otherwise can usually provide you with a local contact to support you through the deregistration process.

You can also find knowledgeable and supportive people on our mailing list.

question Do I need to follow the National Curriculum?

A No, you don't have to follow the National Curriculum. You don't have to be a qualified teacher, follow a set timetable, or keep to school hours.

You do have to ensure that your child receives an education...

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

(a) to his age, ability, and aptitude and
(b) to any SEN's he may have

either by regular attendance at school or otherwise

Section 7 of the Education Act 1996

There is not only one method of education. There are many. It is up to the family to choose the method of education that works for their child. This Home Education may look very different to the education the child would receive in one of the UK’s schools today.

question Will I get help from the LA?

A Usually if you electively home educate you do it alone. This is not as daunting as it sounds — most families find that they get along just fine.

a) If parents have chosen to de-register or have never registered the child (elective Home Education), then the LA is under no duty to arrange provision at home. The LA could ‘reasonably’, make provision, if it so chooses, but they *very* rarely do and, in fact, many seem to have written policies which state categorically that they will not make provision at home in such circumstances.

b) If parents have not electively de-registered (e.g. child is excluded, ill, or unable to attend school for other reasons), the LA *does* have a duty to arrange provision, which can be ‘otherwise than at school’, but, under current legislation (s19), this provision may be minimal, patchy and possibly inappropriate.

c) There are another group of children for whom LA can make provision ‘otherwise than at school’ (s319 children for whom statements are maintained only) where recognised home based programmes (such as Lovaas or Options, etc.) are funded by LAs.

question Won’t my child miss out on socialising with the other children at school?

A This is perhaps one of the greatest worries of people who do not consider home education as a viable option People who do home educate rarely give it a second thought.

Families who home educate do not do so with the intention of isolating their children. Most home educated children have many and varied opportunities to get out and about, and meet a wide range of different people within the community.

For some children, e.g. children with Asperger Syndrome, the enforced socialisation created by the school environment is actually part of the problem with school. These children are more comfortable when they can choose when to socialise and when not to, and when they are able to choose who they would like to spend their time with.

The socialisation offered by schools is not always ideal. Many children encounter bullying in mainstream school because of their special needs. This puts them under great stress and in most cases they would benefit from a release from this stress.

It is important to realise that schools are not the only way to meet other children and practise social skills.

question How do I meet other Home Educated families?

A One of the best ways to link up with other Home Educated families is to join the support group, Education Otherwise or Home Education Advisory Service This is also one way to learn if there are any Home Education groups that meet in your area.

Meanwhile you can look at this web page of local groups to see if there is a contact, or group, listed in your area. You can also join our mailing list, and ask on the list if anyone lives near to you.

question I have a question that isn't answered on this page, where can I go for help?

A If you have another question, you will probably be able to find the help you need by joining our mailing list. Please feel free to join and ask your question there.

This page was last updated March 2012. It is based on the legal situation in England relating to Home Educating children with SENs, and on the practical experience of many Home Educating families.

The case studies on this page are not about actual families, but neither are they fiction, please think of each one as being a collage of the experiences of a group of families.

Please keep in mind that the information on this web site, is the informal exchange of ideas, between ordinary people (ie: NOT professionals), and should be accepted as such by the reader.

© http://www.he-special.org.uk