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Home Ed legalities England

Quotes from law, legislation, case law and Government guidance – these Home Ed legalities apply to England only. Please see our relevant pages for Wales and Scotland. For Northern Ireland there are separate organisations such as Hedni.

The Education Act 1996

Section 7 Duty of parents to secure education of children of compulsory school age.
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.’

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

The Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations 2006 :

Section 8 (1) The following are prescribed as the grounds on which the name of a pupil of compulsory school age shall be deleted from the admission register—
(d)in a case not falling within sub-paragraph (a) of this paragraph, that he has ceased to attend the school and the proprietor has received written notification from the parent that the pupil is receiving education otherwise than at school.

AND

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))

If school fails to deregister

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))

Statutory School Attendance Guidance 2020, page 9, which says: ‘Home Educated Children. On receipt of written notification to home educate, schools must inform the pupil’s local authority that the pupil is to be deleted from the admission register. Schools should not seek to persuade parents to educate their children at home as a way of avoiding excluding the pupil or because the pupil has a poor attendance record. Schools and local authorities should not seek to prevent parents from educating their children outside the school system. There is no requirement for parents to obtain the school or local authority’s agreement to educate their child at home.’

LA duty according to the EHE guidance 2019

3.5 The current legal framework is not a system for regulating home education per se or forcing parents to educate their children in any particular way. Instead, it is a system for identifying and dealing with children who, for any reason and in any circumstances, are not receiving an efficient suitable full-time education. If a child is not attending school fulltime, the law does not assume that child is not being suitably educated. It does require the local authority to enquire what education is being provided and local authorities have these responsibilities for all children of compulsory school age. Local authorities should ensure that their enquiries are timely and effective. Depending on the results of those enquiries, the law may require further action by the local authority and the department believes that this is the case for an increasing number of children. Local authorities must take such action where it is required, within the constraints of the law. Local authorities have the same safeguarding responsibilities for children educated at home as for other children. They should be ready to use safeguarding powers appropriately, when warranted. This flows from the general responsibilities which local authorities have for the well-being of all children living in their area.


3.6 Because of this, the department recommends that each local authority should, as a minimum:
• have a written policy statement on elective home education which is clear, transparent and easily accessible by using different formats as necessary, is consistent with the current legal framework and preferably drawn up in consultation with local families who educate children at home so that it can reflect
both the challenges and rewards of educating children in this way. It should take
into account local circumstances and set out how the authority will seek to engage
and communicate with parents;
• set aside the resources necessary to implement its policy effectively and
consistently. This is not always easy at a time of constrained resources; but
effective implementation in conjunction with work in related areas such as
education welfare, children missing education and admissions, can reduce spend
in the longer term on families where engagement is difficult;
• consider their organisational structures for dealing with home education and the
related areas mentioned above. Although parents who educate their children at
home sometimes say that home education should be dealt with in isolation, the
reality is that it needs a holistic approach to issues of suitability, attendance,
welfare and safeguarding. All of these factors need to be in place to ensure a good
education outcome;
• seek to offer guidance to all known home-educating families in their area about
their rights and obligations, and also provide advice on good practice and
available resources for parents who request it;
• make it clear in all documentation that the local authority sees its role in relation to
home education as part of its wider responsibilities, including safeguarding, for all
children living in its area;
• regularly review its elective home education policies so that they reflect current
law and local circumstances, and are compatible with this guidance document;
• provide clear details of their complaints procedure and deal with all complaints in a
sensitive and timely manner.

3.7 Local authorities may often choose to go further than this – for example by operating voluntary registration schemes so that support can be given more readily to those who wish to receive it, and by providing more information on home educated children in their locality. Such schemes can also help authorities discharge the responsibilities which they have under ss. 436A and 437 of the 1996 Act (see below) and the department would encourage those authorities which do not operate voluntary registration to consider doing so. However, registration is currently not a legal obligation for either parents or authorities.

4.1 One of the most significant issues for local authorities in maintaining adequate
oversight is the initial identification of children who are being educated at home. There is no legal duty on parents to inform the local authority that a child is being home educated. If a child never attends school, an authority may be unaware that he or she is being home educated.

4.2 Identification of children who have never attended school and may be home educated forms a significant element of fulfilling an authority’s statutory duty under s.436A of the Education Act 1996 – to make arrangements to enable the authority to establish, so far as it is possible to do so, the identities of children in its area who are not receiving a suitable education. The duty applies in relation to children of compulsory school age who are not on a school roll, and who are not receiving a suitable education otherwise than at school (for example, at home, or in alternative provision). Until a local authority is satisfied that a home-educated child is receiving a suitable full-time education, then a child being educated at home is potentially in scope of this duty. The department’s children missing education statutory guidance for local authorities applies. However, this should not be taken as implying that it is the responsibility of parents under s.436A to ‘prove’ that education at home is suitable. A proportionate approach needs to be taken.

5.2 Discussion of local authority responsibilities in relation to home education tends to centre on those families where the education is unsatisfactory – or at least potentially so – and an authority’s home education policies need to be clear about the processes used in such cases – which as noted previously, are increasing in number. However, local authorities’ policies should also make clear how the authority interacts with those families where a suitable full-time education is being provided and both parties wish to maintain a suitable level of contact and assurance. Children in these families where children do receive a suitable education at home form a large part of the total number of home educated children in England. It is important that the authority’s arrangements are proportionate and do not seek to exert more oversight than is actually needed where parents are successfully taking on this task. Often, having in place a system which is based on a presumption that it will be parents who initiate contact with the authority if necessary will yield good results when the parents are known to be providing good education. However, it is also necessary that the local authority is able to act in the interests of the child, particularly if a change in his or her circumstances occurs. Local authorities should be clear that maintaining such oversight is a legitimate part of their overall responsibilities towards the children living in their area (for example as set out in s.13A of the Education Act 1996 shown below) and act accordingly:
A local authority in England must ensure that their relevant education functions and their relevant training functions are (so far as they are capable of being so exercised) exercised by the authority with a view to—
(a)promoting high standards,
(b)ensuring fair access to opportunity for education and training, and
(c)promoting the fulfilment of learning potential by every person to whom this subsection applies.
In this context, relevant education functions include those under sections 436A to 447 of the Education Act 1996 and the authority should act accordingly.

5.3 There are no detailed legal requirements as to how such a system of oversight
should work, and it is for each local authority to decide what it sees as necessary and
proportionate to assure itself that every child is receiving a suitable education, or action is being taken to secure that outcome. Establishing a positive relationship between the local authority and the home-educating parent – where that is possible – will allow authorities to better understand parents’ educational provision and preferences and offer them appropriate support. A positive relationship will also provide a sound basis for investigation if the authority receives information that a suitable education is not being provided.

5.4 In any event, the department recommends that each local authority:

ordinarily makes contact with home educated parents on at least an annual basis
so the authority may reasonably inform itself of the current suitability of the
education provided
. In cases where there were no previous concerns about the
education provided and no reason to think that has changed because the parents
are continuing to do a good job, such contact would often be very brief…

ensures that those LA staff who may be the first point of contact for a potential home-educating parent understand the right of the parent to choose home education. It is very important that parents are provided with accurate information from the outset to establish a positive foundation for the relationship. However, parents are under no obligation to accept support or advice from a local authority, and refusal to do so is not in itself evidence that the education provided is
unsuitable.

6.4 The department’s advice is that in all cases where it is not clear as to whether home education is suitable (including situations where there is no information available at all), the authority should initially attempt to resolve those doubts through informal contact and enquiries. This is likely to be the most productive initial approach even when a child is not being suitably educated. An authority’s s.436A duty (and that under s.437, see below) forms sufficient basis for informal enquiries. Furthermore, s.436A creates a duty to adopt a system for making such enquiries. Local authorities should be in no doubt about the necessity for doing this in order to make an early move to formal procedures under s.437 if necessary, thus avoiding delay in securing a suitable education when it is not being provided.


6.5 The most obvious course of action is to ask parents for detailed information about the education they are providing. Parents are under no duty to respond to such enquiries, but if a parent does not respond, or responds without providing any information about the child’s education, then it will normally be justifiable for the authority to conclude that the child does not appear to be receiving suitable education and it should not hesitate to do so and take the necessary consequent steps. This is confirmed by relevant case law. In many cases, making such informal enquiries will allow the situation to be resolved, either by evidence being provided that the home education is suitable or by agreement on alternative approaches to educating the child based on the local authority’s initial assessment (for example, by catering for special needs in a different way).


6.6 Informal enquiries can include a request to see the child, either in the home or in another location. But the parent is under no legal obligation to agree to this simply in order to satisfy the local authority as to the suitability of home education, although a refusal to allow a visit can in some circumstances justify service of a notice under s.437(1) 8 The question of access to the child in relation to safeguarding powers is dealt with in a later section of this guidance.

6.9 Under s.437(1) of the Education Act 1996, local authorities must act if it appears that parents are not providing a suitable education. This section states that:
“If it appears to a local authority that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable9 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(2) of the Act provides that the period specified for a response shall not be less than 15 days beginning with the day on which the notice is served.


6.10 Local authorities considering whether they should serve a s.437(1) notice in a specific case should note that current case law means that a refusal by parents to provide any information in response to informal enquiries will in most cases mean that the authority has a duty to serve a notice under s.437(1). This is because where no other information suggests that the child is being suitably educated, and where the parents have refused to answer, the only conclusion which an authority can reasonably come to, if it has no information about the home education provision being made, is that the home education does not appear to be suitable. Local authorities should take care to ensure that the family has received any enquiries, and is not simply absent.

We shall not continue with information about notices to satisfy, this is because if you are that stage we strongly urge you to seek out support and thoroughly read the entirety of the EHE guidance for yourself.

Suitable Education:

9.4 However, clearly a local authority must have a basis on which to reach the decisions called for in s.437 of the Education Act 1996 as to whether or not the education being provided is suitable. The term ‘suitable’ should be seen in the following light:
a. it should enable a child to participate fully in life in the UK by including sufficient secular education. This means that even if the home education is primarily designed to equip a child for life within a smaller community within this country it should not foreclose the child’s options in later life to adopt some other mode of living, and to be capable of living on an autonomous basis so far as he or she chooses to do so. This view is compatible with the small amount of potentially relevant case law; b. notwithstanding (a), the home education provision does not need to follow specific examples such as the National Curriculum, or the requirement in academy funding agreements for a ‘broad and balanced’ curriculum, nor the independent school standards prescribed by the Secretary of State. Conversely, however, if the home education does consist of one or more of those, then that would constitute strong evidence that it was ‘suitable’ in terms of s.7;c. local authorities should interpret ‘suitable’ in the light of their general duties…

d. the first sentence of ECHR Article 2 of Protocol 1 quoted above confers the
fundamental right to an effective education, and relevant case law17 also confers
very broad discretion on the state in how this is to be implemented. For example, a
local authority may specify requirements as to effectiveness in such matters as
literacy and numeracy, in deciding whether education is suitable, whilst accepting that these must be applied in relation to the individual child’s ability and aptitudes
;

e. although it may well be a good starting point in assessing suitability to assess
whether the curriculum and teaching have produced attainment in line with the
national norms for children’ of the same age, it must be borne in mind that the s.7 requirement is that the education is suitable to the child’s ability and aptitude. If a child’s ability is significantly above or below what might be regarded as ‘average’ then allowances must be made for that; and similarly the home education may legitimately cater specifically for particular aptitudes which a child has, even if that means reducing other content;


f. factors such as very marked isolation from a child’s peers can indicate possible unsuitability. Suitable education is not simply a matter of academic learning but should also involve socialisation;

h. local authorities should not set rigid criteria for suitability which have the effect of forcing parents to undertake education in particular ways, for example in terms of the pattern of a typical day, subjects to be followed and so on. Some parents may decide that a very formal approach is necessary; others may decide to make a more informal provision that is more appropriate to the particular child. Whatever the views of the parents, the key focus for the authority should be on suitability for the child in question.

9.7 An efficient education, within the meaning of s.7, is one which achieves what it sets out to achieve. It is important this concept is not confused with suitability. A wholly unsuitable education can be efficiently delivered – but would still be unsuitable.


Full-time
9.8 The starting point is that there is currently no legal definition of what constitutes ‘fulltime’ education, either at school or in the home. Although there is no need for home education to replicate school timetables, it may nonetheless be useful for it to be borne in mind that in state schools, children of compulsory school age normally receive around 4.5-5.0 hours of education a day, for about 190 days a year. The department’s registration guidance for independent schools sets 18 hours of operation a week as the baseline for registration of the school. However, in home education there is often continual one-to-one contact; education may take place outside normal ‘school hours’ and term time, and the type of educational activity can be varied and flexible.


9.9 Despite this greater flexibility inherent in home education, local authorities should be enabled by parents to assess the overall time devoted to home education of a child on the basis of the number of hours per week, and weeks per year so that this information can be set alongside that relating to suitability to ensure that the home education meets the requirements of section 7. As with suitability, the issue as to whether education is ‘full-time’ should be viewed on a spectrum but education which manifestly is not occupying a significant proportion of a child’s life (making due allowance for holiday periods) will probably not meet the s.7 requirement.

Parents duty according to the EHE guidance for parents 2019

2.2. There is no legislation that deals with home education as a specific approach.
However, Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 provides that:
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.
Elective home education is a form of ‘education otherwise than at school’ and this piece of legislation is the basis for the obligations of parents. It is also the starting point for local authorities’ involvement.

2.4 You may also decide to exercise your right to educate your child at home from a very early stage, before he or she reaches compulsory school age. There are no requirements in that case as to the content of any home education provided – since there is no legal requirement for any education to take place at all, although state-funded places of between 15 and 30 hours a week would normally be available in early years settings for children of an appropriate age.

What is ‘efficient’ education?
2.6. There is no definition of this in statute law. However, it can be interpreted as
meaning education which ‘achieves what it is intended to achieve’. This is not the same as the education being ‘suitable’ – because it is possible to deliver efficiently an education which is definitely not suitable for the child. Conversely, it is possible to deliver a suitable education very inefficiently.


What is a ‘full-time’ education?
2.7 There is no legal definition of “full-time” in terms of education at home, or at school. Children attending school normally have about five hours tuition a day for 190 days a year, spread over about 38 weeks. However, home education does not have to mirror this. In any case, in elective home education there is often almost continuous one-to-one contact and education may sometimes take place outside normal “school hours”.


2.8 Home-educating parents are not required to:
• have a timetable
• set hours during which education will take place
• observe school hours, days or terms


2.9 In practice, the question of whether education for a specific child is full-time will
depend on the facts of each case; but you as parents should at least be able to quantify and demonstrate the amount of time for which your child is being educated. Education which clearly is not occupying a significant proportion of a child’s life (making due allowance for holiday periods) will probably not meet the s.7 requirement.


What is a ‘suitable’ education?
2.10 There is no definition of ‘suitable’ education in statute law, although as stated in s.7 as quoted above, it must be suitable to the age, ability and aptitudes of the child, and any special educational needs. This means that it must be age-appropriate, enable the child to make progress according to his or her particular level of ability, and should take account of any specific aptitudes (for example if a child is very good at mathematics, it might focus more on that than some other subjects). More generally, you should bear in mind that:
a. even if there is no specific link with the National Curriculum or other external
curricula, there should be an appropriate minimum standard which is aimed at,
and the education should aim at enabling the child, when grown-up, to function as an independent citizen in the UK – and furthermore, beyond the community in
which he or she was brought up, if that is the choice made in later life by the child;
b. to be ‘suitable’, education at home should not directly conflict with the
Fundamental British Values as defined in government guidance (link at end of
document), although there is no requirement to teach these;

c. local authorities may use minimum expectations for literacy and numeracy in
assessing suitability, whilst bearing in mind the age, ability and aptitude of the
child and any special educational needs
he or she may have;
d. education may not be ‘suitable’ even if it is satisfactory in terms of content and
teaching, if it is delivered in circumstances which make it very difficult to work (for
example in very noisy premises). This might also affect whether it is ‘efficient’ and
indeed, whether it is ‘received’ at all for the purposes of s.7; and
e. education may also not deemed suitable if it leads to excessive isolation from
the child’s peers, and thus impedes social development.


2.11 There are no legal requirements for you as parents educating a child at home to do any of the following:
• acquire specific qualifications for the task
• have premises equipped to any particular standard
• aim for the child to acquire any specific qualifications
teach the National Curriculum
provide a ‘broad and balanced’ curriculum
make detailed lesson plans in advance
• give formal lessons
• mark work done by the child
• formally assess progress, or set development objectives
• reproduce school type peer group socialisation

• match school-based, age-specific standards


2.12 However, many home-educating families do some of these, at least, by choice.
Furthermore, it is likely to be much easier for you to show that the education provided is suitable if attention has been paid to the breadth of the curriculum and its content, and the concepts of progress and assessment in relation to your child’s ability.

3.4 Remember that pressure should never be put on you as parents by a school to
remove your child from a school to avoid formal exclusion, or because your child is
having difficulty with learning or behaviour. This practice – sometimes called ‘off-rolling’ – is unacceptable, and if pressure of this sort is put on you by any state-funded school you should inform the local authority.

3.6 Remember that if you choose to educate your child at home, you as parents must be prepared to assume full financial responsibility for the child’s education, including bearing the cost of any public examinations (which would have to be entered via an external examinations centre, which may be some distance from your home). Some local authorities may provide financial or other assistance to home-educating families for public examinations, but this is discretionary. Other costs to consider include books, paper, IT and other equipment, and educational visits and sporting activities. Local authorities can consider giving support when special educational needs are being met through home education and additional costs are incurred as a consequence of those special needs. Even in these cases, assistance is discretionary. Some local authorities operate support groups or forums for home-educating families, or provide access to advice; but again, this is discretionary.

4.1 If your child has never been enrolled at a school, you are under no legal obligation to inform the local authority that he or she is being home educated, or gain consent for this. However, it is strongly recommended that you do notify your local authority of the fact, in order to facilitate access to any advice and support available. Some local authorities operate voluntary registration schemes which are linked to support arrangements.

4.2 If your child is currently on the roll of a school you are not obliged to inform the school that he or she is being withdrawn for home education or gain consent for this. However, it is sensible to do so, in order to avoid subsequent misunderstandings as to how you intend to fulfil your parental responsibility for your child’s education. The school is obliged to inform the local authority of children removed from its admission register and will give home education as the reason, if notified of this by the parent. Parents of children withdrawn from school for home education are not legally obliged to inform the local authority themselves – but again it is sensible to do so, either directly or using any local registration scheme which exists, to facilitate access to advice and support.

4.3 These points also apply to children with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan attending mainstream schools. However, if your child attends a special school and this was arranged by a local authority, then the permission of the local authority must be obtained before his or her name can be removed from the admission register. If the local authority refuses consent, you can ask the Secretary of State to settle the dispute. The other circumstance in which the local authority’s consent is necessary is if your child is attending any school as a result of a school attendance order; this order must be revoked by the authority before you can have your child’s name removed from the admission register.

5.1 Your local authority has no formal powers or duty to monitor the provision of
education at home
. However, it does have a statutory duty (under s.436A of the
Education Act 1996) to make arrangements to enable it to establish the identities, so far as it is possible to do so, of children in its area who are not receiving a suitable
education…

5.2 The simple fact that a child is being educated at home does not mean that he or she is not receiving a suitable full-time education. However, in order to fulfil their section 436A duty, local authorities are entitled to make informal enquiries of parents to establish what education is being provided.

5.3 The local authority is therefore likely to make such enquiries if it becomes aware that you are educating a child at home – or may be doing so. As parents you are under no legal obligation to respond, but if you do not, the local authority is entitled to conclude from the absence of any response that it appears that your child is not receiving a suitable education, with all the consequences which can follow from that (see below).

5.4 Some local authorities will ask to see the child at home or in another location, as well as seeing examples of work done. As parents, you are under no legal obligation from education law to agree to such a meeting (but see section below on safeguarding) or to produce specific evidence but you should consider carefully the reasons for not doing so, what is in the best interests of your child, and what is the most sensible approach. If you do not do enough to satisfy the local authority about the education being provided at home it may have no option but to conclude that the education does not meet the s.7 requirement.

5.5 Each local authority has its own published policy on elective home education (usually available on its website) and you should familiarise yourself with this to see what procedures are in place. Ideally such policies are drawn up in consultation with local home education groups and should be designed for the benefit of home educated children. Local authorities should be bearing in mind that, in the early stages, your plans may not be detailed and you may not yet be in a position to demonstrate all the characteristics of an “efficient and suitable” educational provision. You may want to ask the local authority for advice and support. A reasonable timescale should be agreed for you to demonstrate that all aspects of your provision in place, but this does not mean that there can be any significant break between the end of schooling and the provision of good education at home. Once the local authority is satisfied that your child is receiving a suitable education, it is likely to want to update periodically the information it has on your child, and its policy will normally set out the arrangements which it makes for this, often being an annual review with an opportunity to discuss your child’s position with a specially assigned local authority officer. It would be sensible to engage with your local authority in such reviews, as advice and support may also be accessed through such cooperation.


5.6 If your local authority feels that it has not had sufficient information about the home education being provided, or has had no information, and it appears to the authority that your child is not receiving a suitable education at home, it must serve a notice (known as a s.437(1) notice), requiring that you as parents satisfy the authority that the child is receiving a full-time and efficient education at home suitable to your child’s needs. Again, it would be sensible to respond to such a notice if you receive one; and you will have at least 15 days to respond so that you have time to gather suitable material that you may wish to supply.

We won’t go into further detail here about notices to satisfy, if you are in this position, we strongly urge you to fully read the EHE guidance and seek support with your situation.

What is the local authority’s role if my child has special
educational needs?

5.20 If a child has special educational needs, the role of the local authority is somewhat more complex. Further information is available in the SEN Code of Practice, which has a chapter on home education. Your right to educate your child at home applies equally where your child has SEN. This right is irrespective of whether your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC plan)or not. Neither does the local authority have any right of entry to your home to check home education suitability just because your child has special educational needs.

5.21 When your child has an EHC plan, it is the local authority’s duty to ensure that the educational provision specified in the plan is made available to the child – but only if the you as the parents have not arranged for the child to receive a suitable education in some other way. Therefore if the home education you provide as parents is suitable, the local authority has no duty to arrange any special educational provision for the child; the plan should set out the type of special educational provision that the local authority thinks the child requires, and should also state that parents have made their own arrangements under s. 7 of the Education Act 1996. The authority will of course continue to check the suitability of the home education as required by sections 436A and 437 of the 1996 Act, and if at any point it considers that the home education is no longer suitable, it must ensure that the special educational provision specified in the EHC plan is made available as well as taking the steps set out above in relation to school attendance.

5.23 Local authorities should not assume that because the provision you make at home is different from that which would be made in school to meet your child’s special needs, the provision is necessarily unsuitable. In some cases, however, the local authority may conclude that, even after considering its own power to arrange provision in the home, education taking place in the home cannot meet your child’s special educational needs and therefore your child is not receiving a suitable education. In that case, if you as parents still continue to wish to educate your child at home rather than sending him or her to school, the local authority must follow the procedure outlined earlier in this guidance in relation to school attendance orders.


5.24 If you are educating a child at home already and come to believe that he or she has special educational needs, you can ask the local authority to carry out a statutory assessment or reassessment of your child’s special educational needs and the local authority must consider the request within the same statutory timescales and in the same way as for all other such requests.

What is a suitable education?

R v Secretary of State for Education, ex parte Talmud Torah Machzikei Hadass School Trust. Judicial review 1985, The Times, 12 April 1985
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.

Harrison & Harrison v Stevenson. Appeal 1981 Worcester Crown Court (unreported)
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 potential

If it appears the education isn’t 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

School attendance.
Statutory guidance and departmental advice
August 2013

August 2013

Home Educated Children On receipt of written notification to home educate, schools must inform the pupil’s local authority that the pupil is to be deleted from the admission register. Schools should not seek to persuade parents to educate their children at home as a way of avoiding excluding the pupil or because the pupil has a poor attendance record. Schools and local authorities should not seek to prevent parents from educating their children outside the school system. There is no requirement for parents to obtain the school or local authority’s agreement to educate their child at home.

EHE LA guidance regarding SEN

8.1 The parents’ right to educate their child at home applies equally where a child has SEN. This right is irrespective of whether the child has a statement of special educational needs or an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC plan), or neither. References hereafter to ‘EHC plans’ include statements of SEN unless otherwise stated. It can, of course, be the case that a local authority has no knowledge of a child’s special educational needs if the family has not sought assessment or support. However, local authorities have a duty under s.22 of the Children and Families Act 2014 to try to identify all children in their areas who have SEN. This includes home-educated children.

8.4 When a child has a EHC plan, it is the local authority’s duty to ensure that the
educational provision specified in the plan is made available to the child – but only if the child’s parents have not arranged for the child to receive a suitable education in some other way. Therefore if the home education is suitable, the local authority has no duty to arrange any special educational provision for the child; the plan should simply set out the type of special educational provision that the authority thinks the child requires but it should state in a suitable place that parents have made their own arrangements
under s.7 of the Education Act 1996. The authority will of course continue to check the suitability of the home education as required by sections 436A and 437 of the 1996 Act, and if at any point it considers that the home education is no longer suitable, it must ensure that the special educational provision specified in the EHC plan is made available.

8.6 If a school already attended by a child is a special school and the child is attending it under arrangements made by the local authority, the local authority’s consent is necessary for the child’s name to be removed from the admission register, but this should not be a lengthy or complex process and consent must not be withheld unreasonably. If the child is to be withdrawn to be educated at home then the local authority, in deciding whether to give consent, should consider whether the home education to be provided would meet the special educational needs of the child, and if it would, should give consent. However, that consideration should take into account the additional difficulties of providing education at home to a child whose special educational needs are significant enough to warrant a place at a special school. There is no equivalent requirement for children with an EHC Plan who attend a mainstream school; the parents of a child may withdraw him or her without the local authority’s consent, although they should be encouraged to engage with the authority before doing so, whenever possible.

8.10 When a home-educated child’s EHC plan names a school, some local authorities instruct the school to add the child’s name to its admission register without the parent’s agreement, with the result that the parent is committing an offence if the child does not attend the school. It is not lawful for a school to do this, and local authorities should ensure that both schools and their own staff know that. It is up to the child’s parent whether to arrange for the child to be registered as a pupil at the school, and if the parent does not, the local authority should then consider whether a s.437(1) notice, and in due course a school attendance order, should be issued.

8.12 Even if the parent is making suitable alternative arrangements by the provision of home education the local authority is still under an obligation to conduct an annual review of the EHC plan, and that should provide an opportunity for parents to seek additional support or discuss alternatives to home education.