Home education

Information for families in England

Can I take my child out of school?

Parents sometimes ask if they can deregister their child from school, possibly as a response to bullying, school refusal or the school not meeting the child's needs. If you are thinking about taking this step it is important to understand the responsibility you are taking on and to be aware of other possible options

Your right to home educate

If you choose to educate your child at home, you have a general right to do so. This is often referred to as 'elective home education'. The legal duty on parents is to ensure their child receives suitable full time education by attendance at school or otherwise.

You do not have to follow the national curriculum or keep standard school hours. You must however ensure that the education you provide is suitable. That includes being suitable for your child's special educational needs.

What you need to do depends on your situation:

  • If your child has never been to school, you can currently home educate without informing the local authority.
  • If your child is in mainstream school, you can deregister by writing to the headteacher saying you are intending to home educate. The school will notify the local authority but you do not need permission.
  • If your child attends a special school you will need to get consent from your local authority.

Can I be forced to home educate?

No. Sometimes parents are put under pressure from schools to take their child off the school roll on the grounds that it will be in the child's best interest. Your child's school cannot force you to deregister your child. The school should not put pressure on you to home educate because the school can't meet your child's needs or to avoid a permanent exclusion or a penalty for non-attendance.

You may feel that realistically you have no other option, but it's important to look at other ways of addressing the issue. You may find the following pages helpful:

Will I get any extra help if I home educate?

That is unlikely. By choosing to home educate, you agree to take responsibility for your child's education and your local authority will not provide a tutor or financial help. In some areas the local authority has a home education adviser who can provide guidance to parents.

It may be helpful to contact a home education organisation to make links with other home educating families. This can be a way of preventing your child becoming isolated.

Home educated children with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans

Some children with EHC plans are educated at home by parents' choice. If your child has an EHC plan, you have the same right to choose to home educate as other parents. You only need to get permission if your child is on roll at a special school.

If you are already home educating, you also have the same right to ask for an EHC needs assessment. There is no requirement for your child to be in school to be assessed.

If your local authority considers that your child's needs can be met in school, but you choose to home educate, then section I of your child's EHC plan will say 'parent has made own arrangements' or 'elective home education'. This means the local authority does not have to provide the help set out in the EHC plan. It doesn't mean that you have to do everything that would be provided in school, but you must make sure that the education you provide is suitable.

The local authority has the discretion to provide some financial help towards the special educational help, but it is rare for it to do so.

Other children might have a home-based education package because everyone agrees that it is not appropriate for them to be educated in school. This may be the case for children with complex medical needs or severe anxiety or because there is no suitable school available.

In this case the local authority is responsible for ensuring that your child gets the help on the EHC plan. They may arrange tuition directly or give you a personal budget to arrange it yourself. If you want this option, you will need to show that your child's needs cannot be met in a school setting.

Further information

Information for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

We also support Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Give our helpline a call on 0808 808 3555 and we can provide information or signpost you to alternative sources of advice in those nations where appropriate. Find out our local office details in the In your area section.

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