• Advice from Home Educators

    "Follow your instincts always, and have fun!!"

    Naomi

    Tips from us

    Read our FAQ and the legal stuff. Knowing your rights is VERY important.

Frequently Asked Questions

You should find the answer to all your questions in these FAQ.
If you are still unsure of something please do contact us.

Home Education can be whatever you want it to be; completely child-led or fully structured, or somewhere inbetween.  It really is up to you.

There is no curriculum to follow – unless you want to.

There is no-one to tell you how to do it, it’s up to you how it works.

There is no right and wrong way as long as you are ensuring your child receives an education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude; as well as catering for any special needs.

The best thing to do if you are not sure or want to talk to others in a similar position is to read through the website, and also ask other Home Educators. Find your Local Group, or join one of the Home Education Facebook groups.

There is no definitive answer, Home Education can cost as much or little as you want it to.  Museums are often free, Google and YouTube are every Home Educators friend, books can be found second hand or in libraries etc.  The other extreme would be a costly curriculum – these come with everything you would need to study.  Before buying one we recommend asking others, Facebook is one of the good places to chat to other Home Educators.  The cost is down to your individual circumstances and your child’s needs.
Many venues and websites now offer a Home Ed discount,  and you can always join the Facebook Discount Group for specific resource ideas.

You DON’T have to: (unless you want to)

  • follow the curriculum/CfE Curriculum for Excellence BTW
  • stick to school times or terms
  • do lessons
  • plan/timetable
  • prove yourself/be monitored
  • sit all day at the table/do workbooks
  • need a ‘school’ room
  • have lots of money
  • be a teacher or have qualifications

You COULD :

  • be autonomous/semi-structured/structured (or any mix of these)
  • take time to deschool (get school out of your system)
  • follow your child’s interests
  • play
  • have fun
  • go out
  • learn together

Nothing to start with, and we highly recommend you don’t spend huge amounts on anything for a couple of months.  As long as you have paper, pens, pencils, computer access and a library card you will be fine.  As you figure out your child’s interests and style of learning you can buy things, borrow things and make things.

Discounts for websites and places of interest are available to Home Educators.

There are no rules on how many hours or days your child should be learning, the only thing to consider is that the education needs to be full-time. There is currently no definition of what full-time is.  This does not have to mean school hours, or sit at the table type work.  If you consider the time a child is in school, take off break-time, lunch, taking coats off, queuing up, waiting for the teacher to sort other children out, the teacher having to deal with issues etc: that leaves a few hours a day.  Then in that time the teacher is dealing with 30 other children, so the actual time each child is educated is a lot less than you would think initially.

Now compare that to a Home Educated child.  For example, whilst eating breakfast your child is asking and discussing or reading, or could be watching a documentary, maybe you decided to do some worksheets for half an hour, water the garden with your child and discuss nature, which evolves in to online research into bird habitats, and then a walk to the woods to spot birds and have a picnic.  It’s only lunchtime and you have probably covered more in a morning than a full day in school.  Home Education doesn’t stop and start, it is continuous.

In a nutshell, probably not!

Yes there are families that live in remote areas and have to make a substantial effort for their child to see other kids, but it can be done.  There is usually a social group not very far away.

Kids don’t socialise in school, well not naturally, they are forced into a classroom with 30 other kids the same age, play-time is limited to a few age groups and very little ‘equipment’ to choose from.  Home Ed kids get to do what adults do, they choose who and when and where.  Yes it means the parents organising play meets (depending on the age of the child), but the time they spend with friends is much more natural.

Home Ed kids can have friends of all ages and abilities: from the toddler next door, to the old lady over the road and the nice man in the grocers, the local kids as well as Home Ed kids.

Home Ed kids get more opportunity to build real friendships.  Sometimes they may go a few days or even a week or so without seeing any other kids, but when they do it’s quality time with their friends.  Sometimes you might have to make a conscious effort to actually have a quiet day at home, because there is so much to do.

There’s Home Ed meetings and outings, as well as ‘after school’ clubs.  There are a few ways to find local families: there is likely to be a Facebook group for your LA area/county, there may also be one on Yahoo Groups.  Please have a look at the MAP to see if there’s a known group near you.  If one isn’t listed, don’t despair, there probably is one, and we may have a local support in your area too, so please do contact us.

No you don’t have to meet them.  You are not legally required to have visits, or let them meet your child, or send reports (check out the Scottish requirements as you are required to correspond with the LA before withdrawing your child from school) or evidence of work; but it is highly recommended that you always respond to their letters, never ignore their correspondence.

Some Local Authorities think they have a duty to monitor or actively check for safeguarding issues,  they have neither duty.  Once you deregister, or don’t send them to school at age 5, the child’s education is solely the responsibility of the parent.

It is worth noting that the Local Authority does have a duty to respond to any concerns they are made aware of.  In this case they should make enquiries with the family in writing.  We recommend keeping this correspondence in writing, rather than having a visit, so that there is no confusion as to what has been said.  Always ask what their specific concerns are so you may address them.

Most LAs make initial enquiries (once they are aware that you are Home Educating).  Some LAs send a polite letter telling you about local groups and services, and that the member of staff is there should you need them.  Unfortunately other LAs demand lots of information from new Home Ed families, and they attempt to monitor on a regular basis.  This goes against the 2007 EHE Guidelines.  If your LA asks for more than you are happy to give then please do have a read of the sample letters, or contact us for more support.

Some people don’t mind the visits, and we will add here that that is a personal choice.  The EHE person has no right to monitor or assess.  Some LAs try testing the child or try to dictate that you provide a structured approach.  It is a lottery as to if you will get on with your EHE person, they often use their personal experience to gauge whether your educational provison is adequate, which can often lead to problems. If in doubt opt out of visits.

Some people say ‘I have nothing to hide’, you are right, you don’t, but you have a freedom to protect. Whilst some EHE people are nice and some LAs offer some support, many others don’t.  It only takes one bad visit and you are left picking up the pieces for months or years. Ask other local families about their experiences. Check the LA website for legal inaccuracies etc.  Make an informed choice.

Yes they can.  You will have to contact the examining board and find out which centres offer exams for external candidates.

In Scotland children can access SQA exams.  You need to find a centre willing to take external candidates, some people have found that the school/college expect the child to be enrolled. There is nothing to stop children in Scotland accessing IGCSE.  http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/CCC_FirstPage.jsp

You will have to pay the full fee, which can start at £45, plus administration fee.

Usually it’ll be an IGCSE with no course work.  But check with local exam centres and examining boards.

YAHOO EXAM GROUP offers support and advice on this.

There is now the option for Home Educated children aged 14-16 to go to college.  Click HERE for more information.

Home Educated children quite often study for a few months on one or two subjects, often younger than 15/16, they then take the exam and move on to another subject.  Some take them all at once at 16 in a FE college.  There are lots of opportunities.

See our dedicated EXAMS page.

If your child is over 5 and in MAINSTREAM school you legally have to send a deregistration letter in to their school (England and Wales only).  If your child attends a special school, you have to write to the LA and ask for your child’s name to be removed (see sample letters).

If your child is in nursery or under 5 you can inform them that the child no longer requires the place, if they query why just say that they are not legally expected to be in education until the term after their fifth birthday so you have decided to withdraw them. You do not have to tell them you will be home educating, we suggest you don’t.

Once you have decided to deregister you do not need to wait, you do not have to give the school any notice, we actually recommend you don’t.  You can take the deregistration letter in on the first morning they don’t attend, or at the end of their last day.  Make sure you get a receipt from the school, or proof of postage.  If your child attends a special school, you need to wait for permission before you stop taking your child to school.

You do not have to notify the LA (other than special schools).

Sometimes schools do not understand Home Education and may try to convince you it is a bad idea.  Some may say things like it will be detrimental to the child, or that it is illegal.  Please feel confident that it is legal and in most cases it will do your child no harm.  You are not obliged to discuss your decision with the school.

If the school refuse to remove your child’s name then they are breaking the law.  You have fulfilled your legal duty by sending the deregistration letter, but if you wish to you can send a letter in (see samples) explaining the law to them.

Please be aware that once you have sent the deregistration letter in that is your legal duty over, you are not obliged to chase the school up for confirmation or to inform the LA of your intent.

The school will pass your details to the EHE team at the LA.

You need to write to the Director of Education at your LA,  state that as per your legal right, you intend on educating your child at home, under section 30 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980.  Ask for your consent for your child’s name to be withdrawn from the school roll as soon as possible (or a certain date). You may choose to also send a copy of your letter to the school, so that the Head Teacher is aware of your decision,  you are not legally required to inform the school.

It is important that you include a statement about detailing your education plans, with your letter, this will help with the withdrawal process.  It should give some information about how you plan on providing an education, the resources and provision.

Always send any correspondence by recorded delivery and keep copies.

Until consent to withdraw has been given in writing, the child must carry on attending the school (unless he/she can show ‘reasonable excuse’.)

See SAMPLES of letters

If your child has never been in school, you’re moving area or they would be starting secondary school then you do not have to inform anyone that you are now home educating. You are then  what is called ‘under the radar’.  We recommend keeping it that way as it means not having to deal with regular LA contact.

You are not legally obliged to inform anyone that you are Home Educating.  You don’t have to inform the LA, contrary to what their websites try to convince you.  This is also the case in Scotland.

Just because they are now ‘of school age’ doesn’t mean you have to suddenly teach them, haven’t they been learning up until now?  So keep going and evolve naturally.

If they were due to move to secondary school and you applied for a place then please make sure you inform the school and LA admissions that you no longer require the place, you do not have to tell them you will be home educating, though they may make formal enquiries at some point.

If you move home, you just need to let the current school know that you are moving (do it close to/or on the day you move) there’s no requirement to tell them where you are going and you are not obliged to inform the new LA.

Don’t worry if you become known.  The LA will make contact asking for details of the child’s education, they may want confirmation that your child isn’t CME (child missing education).  In this case you just need to confirm that you are Home Educating.  People become known if someone informs the LA such as a GP, Sure Start, a hospital etc.  This is often done because that person thinks they have a duty to inform the LA, some do it because they have no understanding of Home Education.

An EWO (Education Welfare Officer), or ESW (Education Social Worker) or the Inclusions team (title will vary) may contact you.  There is nothing in the law that says you have to talk to them or meet them, their role is to liaise with schools to rectify any issues, or help find another school.  Their role doesn’t usually include Home Education.  Many are not pro Home Ed, and they have no training on the subject either.  We advise that you do not have to fill in their forms as you have only just started your Home Ed journey and are just getting used to it; their forms are often geared to a school at home approach and sometimes ask too much information that could catch you out at a later date.  You can politely decline their ‘support’ telling them you will deal, in writing, with the EHE team.

Please do not be scared or put off by anything they may tell you, they often use scare tactics to get into your home.  If you don’t want them to come in then don’t let them in.  If you are concerned then please CONTACT US.  Unfortunately EWOs are known for turning up on your doorstep.  If you have a copy of the EHE Guidelines printed out, pointing out the relevant parts of law, or our PRINT OUT, you will be able to hand this to them and politely close the door.  EWOs and the like often think that it is their job to ensure you are providing an education, it isn’t!  You are not obliged to let them in, or answer their questions.

Some areas don’t send out EWOs – some pass the deregistration to the EHE team (the process they should all do).

The EHE will make contact (titles vary from EHE advisor, assessor, education social worker, home school assessor, monitoring teacher etc).

They may tell you that you have to fill forms in and that you have to tell them lots of information.  You don’t have to!  They may tell you they have a duty to monitor, they don’t!  Some are lovely, some offer advice and support, but please be aware that they have no duty to monitor.  They have no legal right to be asking for a visit.  The role of EHE is to respond to any concerns (just like Social Services respond to welfare concerns), they are not meant to go looking for problems.

The role of the LA is to make informal enquiries to ascertain if a family is Home Educating.  Unfortunately many LAs think that informal enquiries includes making an appointment to come and see you, to question you and to assess you.  A polite letter (see samples) is often enough to remind them of the law.  Depending on the relationship you want with your LA, you could offer them some information about the education you provide, a couple of short paragraphs about the provision should be more than enough.

LAs often forget that they have no duty to monitor, but some attempt to have visits 3 monthly.  Others alternate between welfare and teacher visits!  Both go way beyond the law.  Once an LA is aware that you know the law, they often back off.

There are, of course, some helpful LAs out there, so it is useful to chat with local families.  But remember, you may consider someone nice and another person may think they are awful.  The same goes for the EHE, they are a person and what they like with regards to education may differ from you.  The EHE guidelines do not give them any recommendations on the support/advice they should offer, so it all comes down to who and what kind of person they are.

They can then make further enquiries if it comes to their attention, or they have a reason to believe, an education isn’t being provided or isn’t adequate.  If this is the case, the LA should make it clear what their concerns are.  These can be from a concerned neighbour/medical professional etc, or from a previous visit where they decided the education wasn’t adequate (often based on prejudices and biased opinions).  In these circumstances it is advisable to respond, again in writing, detailing a little about the educational provision and addressing their concerns.

If you decide to allow a visit, please do try and have someone else present.  The EHE do not have to see the children, or the children’s work, at any point.  They also have no right to snoop around your home.

Many Local Authorities ask for some information (if you’ve chosen not to meet), whilst in law they’re not entitled to this information (and some LAs accept that you don’t want to have any correspondence at all with the LA), it is advisable to provide a little information.
See SAMPLE REPORT

There is no need to write lengthy reports, a couple of paragraphs about the provision is more than adequate for LA informal enquiries. If the LA have stated any concerns then a lengthier report would be advisable.

Educational Philosophies describe why you educate, the LA (and court) have to respect your philosophical reasons for Home Educating, so it can be useful to add a few lines about your philosophy.
PLEASE NOTE: an educational philosophy on it’s own will NOT be adequate information for an LA to be satisfied.  You should always include how you educate and what you provide, seperately as a report.

Once the LA recieve your letter asking for consent to withdraw your child from school, the LA should send an acknowledgement. They should then consider quickly whether or not there are any reasons for consent to be withheld.  Consent should be granted quickly as long as there is no evidence exists to support the withholding of consent, and you have submitted information about the educational provision.

The council should inform you, in writing, in full, if they refuse or will be delaying its consent. If your proposed educational provision is deemed unacceptable the LA should give you the chance to amend your plans.

Scottish LAs shoud send you their ‘information/guidelines for parents’ these should be inline with the statutory guidelines for education authorities which was issued by the Scottish Government in January 2008.

LAs often ask for a visit or to meet with you,  to discuss your plans to home educate, you are not obliged to meet with them, in your home or elsewhere, but it is highly recommended that you keep up with correspondence.

Your child MUST continue to attend school until consent has been received IN WRITING

STATUTORY GUIDELINES CAN BE FOUND HERE http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2007/12/17133313/0

Once you have deregistered/withdrawn your child from school, and you agree to meet the EHE, or you choose to send some written information, the EHE is likely to send you a report (or at the very least a statement) on their ‘findings’.  We suggest you insist on receiving one.

Check their ‘report’ and demand any errors be corrected.  If they are not satisfied with the provision they will let you know and you will be given chances to rectify the issues.

This is also the process should a concern come to their attention; you can provide a report, or educational philosophy, if you want.  (Please note, an educational philosophy on its own is not enough ‘evidence’ about the educational provision).

Once you receive contact from the EHE (or other, such as EWO) you can tell them in writing (see sample letter) that you do not wish to meet with them.  You are well within your rights to opt out of visits, and most LAs accept that without question.  Some may need reminding of the law.  It shouldn’t be used against you at any point as it is not a legal duty of the LA to monitor.

Families that deregister children from school often find that the child, and the parent, stay in school mode for quite a while.  Often if a child has been bullied, or didn’t enjoy school, the thought of anything that resembles school can be upsetting.  Taking time to deschool can mean having a chance to find a new way of learning.

Whilst there is no legal right to deschool the DfE EHE guidelines state ‘3.11 Local authorities should bear in mind that, in the early stages, parents’ plans may not be detailed and they may not yet be in a position to demonstrate all the characteristics of an “efficient and suitable” educational provision. In such cases, a reasonable timescale should be agreed for the parents to develop their provision.’  So a period of time to adjust and decide on how you wish to educate is acceptable.

Deschooling often happens for about a month for every year the child was in school, some children need less, some may need more.  In that time it doesn’t mean an education isn’t being provided, it means you don’t have to jump right in to a style.  You don’t have to sit them to the table on day one, you could spend some time going to the park or beach, wandering around museums, meeting friends, baking etc.  You will find that you will pick up on how your child learns best.  Some children and parents will choose not to deschool at all, and that is ok, each family should do what is best for them.  Sometimes it’s the parents that need time to deschool more than the child.

Unfortunately some schools/LAs do report to social services, but most don’t.

Most of these kind of referrals are dealt with swiftly, so please try not to let this worry you.

If you are in the unfortunate position that they have called SS, please print out this document; some SWs don’t understand Home Education law and this document explains it all for them.

If you are concerned about a school or LA reporting you maliciously, then include this quote in your correspondence :

England only:

Revised statutory guidance for local authorities in England to identify children not receiving a suitable education, 2009.  Section 73.  When raising awareness with partner agencies it is useful to remind them that parents may lawfully educate their children at home.  Where a local authority is satisfied that a parent is providing their child with a suitable full-time education, the child is not the target of this duty.  However, the local authority does have the power to issue a school attendance order if it appears that the parent is not providing a suitable education.  Education of children at home by their parents is not, in itself, a cause for concern about the child’s welfare.

Wales only:

Inclusion and Pupil Support – Section 6 – Elective Home Education, 2008  section 6.1 … a parent’s decision to home educate is not in itself grounds for concern about the welfare of children…

Scotland only:
4.6 Child protection concerns by local authority officers The welfare and protection of all children, both those who attend school and those who are educated by other means, is of paramount concern and is the responsibility of the whole community.  As with school educated children, child protection issues may arise in relation to home educated children.  It should not be assumed that child protection issues are more likely to arise for children who are home educated.  If any child protection concerns come to light in the course of engagement with children and families, these concerns should immediately be referred to the appropriate authorities using established protocols.

If your child has never been registered with a school, and you intend to Home Educate, there is NO LEGAL REQUIREMENT for you to complete any school place application forms your LA may send you. You are perfectly entitled to ignore them.  They do attempt to get you to inform them that you will be Home Educating, but you do not legally have to.  If the LA doesn’t know about you, you are considered unknown or off the radar.  It’s a good place to be, no annual (or quarterly) attempts to illegally monitor you.

Home Education is a legal option; EWOs (truancy) and the police should know this.  If you are stopped by an EWO or a security guard just explain that you Home Educate, this should be adequate.  Be aware that you are not obliged to share your details.

If you are unknown to the LA then definitely don’t give your details (you are not legally obliged to share any information with an EWO).  You will become known to the LA if you do.

If a police officer asks, then yes give your details, but specify that they are not to be shared with the EWO.  You can order an Educational Freedom card for yourself, and one for each child HERE.  They quote the law and will have your contact details on in case your child is stopped.

Yes you can, but you have to ensure that you are satisfied that your child is receiving a full-time education (no legal definition of full-time).  The childminder is not allowed to provide an education in the time they look after your child.

Yes you can, but you have to consider the allowed child to minder ratios.  Also you will need to consider that your child will need to receive a full-time education, so you will need to be sure you can do both.

Yes you can, but if you are claiming JSA you are still expected to be looking for, and be available for, work.  Home Educating does not exempt you from this, although you are not expected to take a job if you can not find appropriate child care.  The Job Centre should not advise you to use school as a child care option.

Yes, many parents find that being self-employed works brilliantly with Home Educating.  It often gives the flexibility to fit everything in – don’t forget Home Ed doesn’t have to be 9-3.30.

In short no, there is nothing in the law to say you have to tell your LA that you are moving.  Nor is there anything to say you have to tell the new LA that you are there.  BUT the LA has a duty to establish whether children are missing an education, if you disappear they may classify you as CME, so it is probably best to notify the LA that you have moved house and you continue to Home Educate.  You could do this in writing on the day you move.  You are not obliged to give a forwarding address.  If you become known to the new LA (or have moved within the same LA and are found) then a CME officer is likely to come to you or ring you.  We advise that you do not let them into your home.  You just need to tell them that you Home Educate and will liaise in writing with the Home Ed team.

 

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