PLease read the ehe guidance for your area of the uk
What to expect when dealing with the Local Authority.
For a quick reference see our flow chart that shows what to expect when dealing with the Local Authority in England.
Once you have deregistered from school, the school will pass your information to the Local Authority, usually the EHE department, however some LAs do not have a dedicated team. You will be contacted by the Local Authority.
Wales – The below information is similar to the Welsh rules, however there are a few small differences, we detail them HERE.
You LEGALLY have to deregister your child if they are registered at a school.
Failing to send a child without deregistering could result in prosecution.
If you get confused by any of the terminology please have a look at this page where we explain most commonly used terms and abbreviations.
It is frustrating, but it is important to understand that they are not always honest, we wish this wasn’t the case, but despite many Home Educators and organisations working with each LA many still do not seem to understand how threatening their letters sound, or how intrusive their questioning is. And despite Education Select Committees telling them that cold calling, on the phone or doorstep, are not acceptable ways to communicate, they still do it.
Who from the LA will contact me?
Most Local Authorities have an EHE (Elective Home Education) department, however, not all do, and not all staff involved in Home Education have Home Education in their title. You could be contacted by an EWO, the EHE person, a Home Education Teacher (we know, it’s an awful and misleading title), a EHE monitoring assessor (so many misleading things wrong with this title) etc. It is important you ensure that you are dealing with the correct department.
The school will forward your info and dereg letter onto the LA who will sometimes send out an EWO to knock on your door (doorstepping). You DO NOT have to let them in. You can be polite and tell them that you are happy with your decision to Home Educate and do not need their service. Also say that you will happily correspond with the EHE in writing. Be aware that job titles will differ within the Home Education department.
The EHE person will make contact with you, often as early as the same day you deregister, sometimes it can be months (if ever) before you hear from them. The content of this contact can vary dependent on the LA area. A good LA will tell you about local groups and support networks. They should explain that visits and form filling are not legal requirements. Often the forms are not relevant to Home Education, we suggest you provide a provision and resource report rather than filling in their forms.
You NEVER have to allow anyone from the council into your home. And you do not have to speak to them on the phone. If someone turns up on your doorstep or phones you, we recommend politely telling them you are busy and ask them to keep all communication in writing.
Ideally the first contact will be a welcome letter, offering information about Home Education, local groups and activities. They should be honest that they have no duty to monitor or assess, and should be upfront that you’re able to choose how you respond to informal enquiries.
Sometimes an LA may write to tell you that they have arranged to visit you on a set day and time; they may try claiming they have a duty to monitor, or that they have to meet the child or see work, which is not acceptable, especially if you are new to Home Ed. In Wales there is an automatic assumption that the education is adequate therefore even less of a reason to demand a visit.
Their informal enquiries shouldn’t really be any more often than annually, Home Educators deem anything more often as an attempt to monitor. NEVER ignore correspondence, always reply, if our website doesn’t provide you with the help you need then do contact us.
Once you receive communication, we strongly urge you to always respond (unless of course the letter/email doesn’t require a response). And the response should always be in writing.
Always in writing!
We, and most Home Educators, urge you to keep communication in writing (letter or email), that way there is a paper trail, which can be used as evidence should things become messy. Most LAs will respect your choice to not have a visit or phone calls, please contact us if you run into any difficulty.
As mentioned above, some LAs are not honest in their communication, some threatening school attendance orders (SAOs) if you do not have a visit, others claiming they have to monitor you every few months, and some claim you have to provide photos and video evidence of your child learning. You don’t have to do any of the above. If you have looked through the rest of our site and looked at our template provision and resource update, but still don’t know how to respond to the LA, then do contact us.
Do not ever feel pressured, upset or worried about visits, opting not to have one is a legal option and cannot legally be used against you, as long as you provide adequate info in writing.
There are, of course, some helpful LAs out there, so it is useful to chat with local families to find out the general consensus. But remember, you may consider someone nice and another person may think they are awful. The same goes for each EHE advisor – they are a person, and what they consider suitable with regards to education may differ from your views. The EHE guidelines do not give them any recommendations on the support/advice they should offer, so it all comes down to the personal viewpoint of the individual advisor. A risk we do not feel is worth it.
Forms or report?
The first communication can often come with extensive forms to fill in, asking for information that has nothing to do with Home Education, many are very school type education focused. We suggest ignoring these kind of forms (by all means fill them in if they’re not over intrusive and are inline with what Home Education is) and offering a report on the provision once you’ve settled in. Some will accept this, others will want information straight away. Either way, you can use our template resource and provision update as a guide, along with the accompanying letter. You should not include contact information or log in details to any website, tutor or group (Home Ed or otherwise).
You may be asked why you are Home Educating, you can reply to this, as it is to ensure you were not forced out of school, or that you have removed your child without any idea about Home Education. If you wish to respond, you can say ‘because we chose to’.
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, separately as a report.
The LA should respond, thanking you for the information and that they will talk to you in a year.
Unfortunately some will push for more information, if you’re not sure about your report, or if they’re entitled to more, you can contact us. You do not (and we suggest you don’t) have to include photos or other kinds of evidence of the provision, these do, after all, belong to your child.
Annual contact by letter asking how you are doing and if you’d update them on the provision is deemed acceptable amongst Home Educators. A brief written update using our template is more than adequate.
What if they deem the provision not to be suitable?
If the LA deems the education as not suitable, they should tell you why, giving you chance to rectify it, or explain to them why they’re wrong. If they are still not happy they will serve a notice to satisfy, to which we strongly urge your respond with a very detailed report (remember Home Education doesn’t have to resemble school at home and the LA have to respect that).
If for any reason this is still not deemed as suitable they can serve a school attendance order.
Unfortunately some LAs do this without valid reason, we are here to support you, but don’t panic, as the majority don’t do this. If you are served an SAO you can refuse to abide by it and go to court.
We suggest you go armed with lots of information and evidence of a suitable education, as well as the EHE guidance highlighted up showing that the LA can not force any particular style of education etc.
Luckily SAO’s are rare, and most concerns, with our support are rectified quickly.
Be armed with knowledge, as they say ‘Knowledge is power’
This is just a very brief explanation, please continue to read through our site, ensuring you are fully armed with all the knowledge.
If you are an LA reading this:
Please consider carefully why we have to recommend families keep contact in writing, why the forms are not suitable to Home Education and why calling yourselves monitoring teachers etc. is not creating a healthy image to Home Educators.
We are more than happy to liaise with you, for free, to bring your policy inline with the EHE guidance and law, please contact us to ask about our co-production process.
The government EHE guidance
Be armed with the knowledge, read our website, and read the:
The right to Home Educate:
Duty of parents to secure education of children of compulsory school age.Section 7 of the Education Act 1996
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 special educational needs he may have,
either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.
What constitutes a suitable education:
Mr Justice Woolf said: ‘Education is suitable if it primarily equips a child for life within the community of which he is a member, rather than the way of life in the wider 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 wishes to do so.R v Secretary of State for Education, ex parte Talmud Torah Machzikei Hadass School Trust. Judicial review 1985, The Times, 12 April 1985
The Judge defined the outcomes of a suitable education as 1. to prepare the children for life in a modern civilised society; and 2. to enable them to achieve their full potentialHarrison & Harrison v Stevenson. Appeal 1981 Worcester Crown Court (unreported)
If Home Education doesn’t appear to be suitable:
If it appears to a local education authority that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, they shall serve a notice in writing on the parent requiring him to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is receiving such education.Section 437(1) of the Education Act 1996:
(6) Where the name of a pupil is to be deleted from the admission register, the proprietor must make a return to the local authority for that pupil as soon as the ground for deletion under regulation 8 is met in relation to that pupil, and in any event no later than the time at which the pupil’s name is deleted from the register.(The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006, as amended by The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 s 12 (6))