Home education

Parents and carers have the legal right to choose to educate their children at home, rather than at school (Section 7 of the Education Act 1996). This is known as elective home education (EHE).

Parents who choose to educate their child at home have to take on full financial responsibility for the cost of doing so, including the cost of any additional assistance, such as tutors, and any examination costs.

Educating a child at home can be a very rewarding, but challenging, task. The decision to home educate should be a positive choice for parents, and not taken as a ‘last resort’. Parents or carers should never be persuaded to pursue home education as a way of avoiding exclusion or because their child has a poor attendance record.

The Council has an obligation to ensure that all children within the borough are safe and receiving a suitable education. We are keen to establish good working relationships with all of our home educating families. EHE link officers are allocated to individual families. The link officer will offer to meet with each family, and this will be an opportunity to offer any advice or information, to update on parents’ plans for their child’s continuing education, and to ensure that no children are missing out on a suitable education.

Please contact us if you are a parent /carer considering home education and would like any further information before making a decision about educating your child at home.

The law and home education

According to section 7 of the 1996 Education Act:

"The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude, and to any special educational needs he may have, either by attendance at school or otherwise."

Education is compulsory, but you are legally entitled to educate your child at home.

An ‘efficient’ and ‘suitable’ education is not defined in the Education Act 1996, but ‘efficient’ has been broadly described as an education that ‘achieves that which it sets out to achieve’, and a ‘suitable’ education is one that ‘primarily equips a child for life within the community of which he/she is a member, rather than the way of life in the country as a whole, as long as it does not foreclose the child’s options in later years to adopt some other form of life if he or she wishes to do so’

‘Full-time’ does not mean that you must follow school hours and terms; education may take place outside normal school hours.

Teaching and the National Curriculum

You don’t have to be a teacher to educate your child at home. You could use the services of a private tutor if you wanted to do so, but the majority of home educators have no such formal qualifications. Learning may take place in a variety of locations, not just in the family home.

You do not have to follow the National Curriculum, but some parents find it helpful to use it as a framework, both for subject areas and to gauge an idea of levels of achievement. By being aware of the National Curriculum, it may make it easier for your child to be successfully integrated should you decide at some future time to enrol him/her into a school.

Grants to cover the costs of home education

There are no funds available from the government or the council for parents who have decided to home-educate their children. Parents are strongly encouraged to plan ahead and think carefully about the costs associated with educating children at home – especially in the longer term when they may wish to take public examinations. Inevitably, you will incur some expenses and you should consider the costs involved in providing books, materials, resources, educational trips and examination fees, etc.

Exams

For examination and course content information, you will need to find an examination body that provides qualifications for ‘private candidates’ – in other words, candidates who are not registered in a school. Private candidates will not usually be able to sit exams where there is controlled assessment, which rules out some GCSEs for example. You will find that many home educators look to International GCSEs instead – iGCSEs.

You will have to meet the costs associated with studying for and taking examinations, but you will have the advantage of selecting the examination board whose external syllabus most suits your child.

Childrens social lives

Going to school and meeting/mixing with other children can be an important part of your child’s social development. If you are home educating, you may wish to consider encouraging your child to join a variety of clubs and/or special interest societies which can assist with social skills, such as sharing and mixing with other people of all ages.

Who to inform

If your child has never been to school you don’t have to tell us, but we would encourage you to do so.

If you are intending to withdraw your child from school, you are required to write to the Headteacher requesting that your child’s name is removed from the register as you intend to take responsibility for your child’s education. The Headteacher will arrange for your child’s name to be removed from the admissions register and will notify the Council. We will then contact you to ascertain some basic information. We are always happy to talk to you if you are, or are considering, home educating.

It is important that you realise that once your child’s name is removed from the register, it may not always be possible for your child to return to the same school if you change your mind, as the place may have already been allocated to another child.

Council involvement during home education

Although the Council has no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis, we do believe that positive relationships and mutual respect between the Council and parents are a good way to safeguard your child’s best interests. When you start to home educate, we will contact you to suggest an informal meeting at your home to discuss your plans and to offer any initial advice that you may need. Most people find the visit helpful, but you might prefer to meet at another venue. You could also write to the Council to let us know about the provision you are making.

The Council does have a legal duty to identify children who are ‘missing from education’. If the Council discovers that you have a child who is not a registered pupil in a school and we don’t know that you are home educating, or don’t have any information about your educational provision, it could be interpreted that your child is missing from education.

By providing basic information such as your child’s name and date of birth, preferred contact details and an outline of your home education, it will help us to confirm that your child is receiving a suitable education.

Providing we have no concerns, we will then normally ask to meet with you once a year to discuss your future plans and to confirm that your child is not missing from education.

We will let you know if we think that the educational provision for your child does not meet the requirements of the 1996 Education Act. If the situation does not improve within a specified period, the Council may consider serving a School Attendance Order. A School Attendance Order gives the Council powers to name a school that your child must attend. It is an offence to ignore a School Attendance Order. We would, however, prefer to work in partnership with parents to resolve difficulties whenever possible, without recourse to legal action.

Children with special educational needs

A parent’s right to home educate applies equally where a child has SEND.

If your child attends a special school, however, Council consent must be sought before removing your child’s name from the school roll. This is not intended to prevent you from home educating, but to ensure continuity of suitable educational provision for your child.

Children having difficulties at school

This does not mean that you have to take your child out of school. Discuss the issues with your child’s teacher, Head teacher, or governors at the school.

If you believe that your child’s current school is not suitable, then you should also discuss with the Council what alternatives might be available before taking any decision to home educate your child.

Pressure should never be put on you as parents by a school to remove your child from the school roll to avoid formal exclusion, or because your child is having difficulty with learning or behaviour. This practice - sometimes termed ‘off-rolling’ - is unacceptable, and if pressure of this sort is put on you by any school, you should inform the Council.

Returning to school education

If you decide at any time that you would like your child to return to school, or to go to school for the first time, you will need to contact school admissions at the Council to apply for a school place:

Flexi-schooling

Some children who are educated at home for most of the time are also registered at a school, and attend that school for part of the week. The purpose of this is usually to ensure that educational provision for specific subjects is satisfactory, although it can also help in other ways, such as socialisation. Please note that such arrangements are at the discretion of individual Head teachers, and schools are not obliged to agree to such arrangements when requested by parents.

Children and employment

The law about employment for young people of compulsory school age remains the same for those who are home educated as those in school. Children may not be legally employed if they are under 13 and they must have a work permit.

Support for parents who educate their children at home

Organisations

Examination Boards

Resources

Special educational needs

Disclaimer

This information is made available solely for the purpose of providing individuals with details of some potential sources of information relevant to elective home education. Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council is not responsible for, does not control, does not endorse nor does it verify the contents of any of these websites or resources, and does not give any guarantee regarding the reliability, accuracy, legitimacy or quality of any such content. Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council cannot guarantee the quality of services provided by any of the listed organisations or sites, nor does it endorse or recommend any individual, provider, organisation or group mentioned in this document and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council expressly disclaims all warranties of any kind, whether express or implied. Content on any of the sites mentioned above cannot be attributed to or taken as in any way representing the views of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.

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