Home education

6 mins read

This advice applies in England only. Read information for families in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.

Parents sometimes ask if they can deregister their child from school. If you are thinking about home education, it is important to understand the responsibility you are taking on and to be aware of other possible options.

In this article

Your right to home educate

Parents sometimes ask if they can de-register 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

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” (EHE). 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:

Can I be forced to home educate?


Sometimes schools put parents under pressure 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 de-register 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 plans

If your child has an education, health and care (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 a school can meet your child’s needs, 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.

Education other than at school (EOTAS)

Some children and young people with EHC plans are not able to attend “standard” education settings (schools, colleges, pupil referral units, etc), as the provision available is not suitable to meet their needs.

In these cases, Section 61(1) of the Children and Families Act 2014 allows a local authority to arrange education outside of a standard setting if it is satisfied that a standard setting would be inappropriate. This is a legal mechanism commonly known as EOTAS, which stands for education otherwise than at school.

EOTAS is a formal special education package provided under an EHC plan. The local authority remains legally responsible for maintaining this package. Under this arrangement, the child or young person is not on roll at a school or post-16 institution. Instead, they receive their education and special educational provision either at home or, in some cases, within an external setting that is not registered as an educational setting.

Section I of the EHC plan, which details a pupil’s placement, does not “name” the EOTAS arrangement. Instead, Section I usually remains blank, unless some of the provision is delivered via a non-“standard” school setting. In this case, Section I must name that placement. Section F of the EHC plan, which describes a child’s SEN provision, should indicate that this will be provided via an EOTAS package.

EOTAS should not be confused with elective home education

While both EOTAS and home education may result in your child or young person being education at home, the obligations on local authorities are different.

Elective home education describes a parent removing their child from the school roll (if on it) and providing education at home instead of at school. It is the parent who then assumes responsibility for making sure their child receives a full-time efficient education suitable to their needs. The local authority does not have a legal duty to secure the education provision in the EHC plan if it agrees the parent has made their own arrangements.

In the case of EOTAS, the local authority remains responsible for providing the child’s education package.

However, in both cases the local authority must still review the EHC plan annually.

Government guidance

Information for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

Read our information about education in Wales.

Find out about the system of support for children with special educational needs in Northern Ireland on the NI Education Authority website or Senac (special educational needs advice centre).

In Scotland, the system of support for children with additional support needs is called additional support for learning. You can read more about it on the Enquire website.

Related information

Attendance, absence & medical needs

Absence from school

Help with medical needs

Home education