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Everything you could ever need to know about Home Education

Educational Freedom’s Home Education FAQ:

I want to Home Educate but I don’t know how to / what it involves?

Home Education can be whatever you want it to be; completely child-led or fully structured, or somewhere in-between. Read more about Home Ed styles.
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. But there’s lots of support from within the Home Education community.

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.

REMEMBER you are legally responsible for the education, that includes all of the costs. Schools and Local Authority give no support, financial or otherwise.

The best thing to do is to give all of our website a good read first. We are sad we have to say this, but do not take your Local Authority information (on their website, on paper or in person) as being correct. Unfortunately many LAs still claim Home Education is neglectful, socially isolates the child, or they make claims that the education has to be structured etc. Read our website, and the EHE guidance yourself, so you know what information is accurate.

Then talk to others in a similar position by joining our Facebook group and your local group.

Does Home Education cost a lot?

There is no definitive answer, here.

Home Education can cost as much or little as you want it to.

Museums are often free, Google and YouTube are every Home Educator’s 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 for their thoughts.

Facebook is a good place to chat to other Home Educators, and to find out details of local social meets.

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 our Facebook Resources Group for specific resource ideas.

We suggest families do not spend money on subscriptions or excessive amounts of resources until they have settled in to Home Educating, otherwise you may find you wasted money.

What do we have to and not have to do?

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

  • follow the National Curriculum, or any bought curriculum
  • adhere to school times or terms
  • do lessons
  • plan ahead or have a timetable
  • 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 get school out of your system as a family and try out different methods and styles of Home Education (sometimes known as “deschooling“, but do NOT use this term with the LA)
  • follow your child’s interests
  • play and have fun
  • go out
  • learn together

    Remember Local Authorities have no duty to monitor but they can make informal enquiries about the provision.
What resources/equipment will I need?

Nothing to start with, and we strongly 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, rent, or borrow resources and purchase the necessary materials.

These could then include scientific equipment and experiments, art and craft materials, calculators, workbooks, subscriptions, sports equipment etc. Remember most toys have learning value, especially things like Lego for use in maths.

How many hours a week should my child be taking part in education?

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.

Remember, education does not have to mean school hours, or sit-to-the-table formal work. Consider the school day – by the time you’ve taken off break and lunch time, assembly, moving through the school to different areas, putting on/taking off coats, getting changed for PE and back again and so on, the actual time spent in lessons is considerably shorter than the school day. Then take off time spent by the class teacher on the questions and pastoral issues of up to 30 children in the class, and you can see how little time is dedicated to the education of each individual child.

Now compare that to a day in the life of a Home Educated child. For example, whilst eating breakfast the child could be asking questions and discussing something with their parent(s) and siblings, or reading. They could be watching a documentary after that, or maybe they do some worksheets for half an hour, then water the garden and discuss nature with their parent(s), which evolves into online research into bird habitats, and then a walk to the woods to spot birds and have a picnic. It’s only lunchtime and they have probably covered more in a morning than a full day in school.

Older children naturally have differing waking hours to younger children, it is ok if your teen doesn’t get out of bed until lunch, or is working on maths equations at 3am. Whatever works for your child is perfectly acceptable as long as you are sure the education suits the child’s age, ability, aptitude and SEN.

Home Education doesn’t stop and start, it is continuous.

Will my child miss out on the social side of school? How do we find local Home Educators?

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. Look on Facebook using the term Home Education followed by your town, area or county.

Children don’t socialise in school, at least not in a way that is natural to them. 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, local school kids as well as other 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. Just as with education, there is no defined right amount of social interaction – every child is different! One child’s “quiet week” is another’s “far too much”. It’s important to remember that some children can not cope being around other children, and that is ok – ensure they have the option to if they want to.

There are Home Ed meetings and outings, as well as ‘after school’ clubs that your child can join just as they would if they were in school. (Dance classes, St John’s Ambulance, gymnastics, Young Farmers…the list is endless!) 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 our MAP to see if there’s a known group near you. If one isn’t listed, don’t despair – there probably is one, just have a look on Facebook or ask in a national group.

Do I have to let the LA into my home/be monitored?

No, you don’t have to meet them. You are not legally required to have visits, let them meet your child or provide evidence/copies of work (England and Wales).
You should ALWAYS respond to their letters and never ignore their correspondence.

When the LA make informal enquiries about the Home Education provision we suggest providing a written report to the EHE team. Our template provision and resource report should help you out.

Some Local Authorities claim 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.

Please read our relevant Dealing with the Local Authority England/Wales or Scotland section to find out more about visits, reports and monitoring,

Can Home Educated children still take exams?

Yes they can.

It is the parent’s responsibility to find an exam centre that accepts external candidates and to pay the fee

There is also the option for Home Educated children aged 14-16 to go to college.

See our dedicated Exams and college access page for more information.

What do all the terms and abbreviations mean?

Terms and abbreviations like EHE, EWO, SAO and more, can make your Home Education journey seem complicated, we aim to explain them all HERE.

How do I deregister?

Please see our dedicated deregistration pages.

I want to deregister a teenager, what about exams?

We suggest reading our dedicated page.

My child has SEN, can I Home Educate?

Please read our dedicated pages to SEN and Home Education

My child has never been to school do we inform anyone we are Home Educating?

If your child has never been registered at a school and they are now of “compulsory school age’ it doesn’t mean you have to suddenly teach them, haven’t they been learning up until now? So keep going and evolve naturally.

If your child has never been registered in a school then there is no requirement on you to inform the LA that you Home Educate at any age. There is no benefit to telling them.

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.

We have decided not to accept a secondary school place, what do we do?

If your child was due to move to secondary school and you’ve changed your mind, 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 ask how your child will be educated, at which point we suggest it best to tell them you’re Home Educating (it prevents your children being considered as CME).

We are moving house, do we have to tell anyone?

If you’re moving house and your child is registered at a school, but will now be Home Educated, you need to let the school know you’ve left and no longer require the school place as you have moved home. Do this in writing. There is no need to state you’re now Home Educating or where you have moved to. You can ignore all future correspondence from the school.

If you currently Home Educate and are known to the LA then wait until you move and then send a letter (post in a post box in your old LA area the day you leave (prevents the postmark being used to trace you), email is ok though expect many emails demanding and threatening to know where you are), stating you have now moved out of the area, do not say where to. There is no requirement to tell them where, and no requirement to inform the new LA. This may seem extreme, but until LAs all act within the law, it is worth trying to stay off their radar whilst you can.

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.

What happens after I have deregistered? What is the Local Authority role?
Do I have to send a report?

Some Local Authorities will ask to meet or have a phone conversation, you do not have to accept these, in fact we strongly advise you to keep contact in writing, by sending a written report instead.
Whilst it is not a legal requirement to send information about the provision, it is a good way to ensure the LA are satisfied and they should then leave you alone until next year. See our template provision and resource report.

Do I have to show my child’s work to the LA?

Whilst the EHE guidance does say the LA can ask to see the child’s work, we feel that this does not respect all styles of learning or all children’s needs. You can tell the LA that any work completed by the child is their property, and that they do not give permission for it to be shared with a stranger.

It is also important to note that there are many instances where a Home Educated child wouldn’t produce a piece of work, such as through discussions or outings, it may be worth pointing this out to the LA.

We advise opting out of sending copies/photos of work and instead writing a provision and resource update report ensuring you give adequate explanations of the provision.

How do I respond to the LA?

It’s vital that you never ignore correspondence, here’s lots more info and template letters you can use.

Communicating with the LA England and Wales

Communicating with the LA Scotland

How should the LA respond in Scotland?

See our dedicated page for Scotland advice.

Educational Freedom primarily focuses on advice for Home Educators in England, for further information about Scotland you could contact Home Education Scotland. (we are not affiliated with the Home Education Scotland organisation and can not guarantee accuracy of their content.)

What happens after I have sent a letter/report?

After sending written information, the EHE person 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.

They will possibly tell you when they will next be in touch. We believe a year is a suitable amount of time.

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

Please read our relevant Dealing with the Local Authority section for England and Wales or Scotland

I live in Wales, are the rules different?

The expectations of the parent are the same, however, there are a few small differences in the EHE guidance, which we detail HERE, this page should be read in conjunction with THIS

I don’t want a visit, what do I tell them? Will it be used against me?

Once you receive contact from the EHE (or other, such as EWO) you can tell them in writing (see our template 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.

Once you’ve stated that you do not wish to meet with them you can include a brief report on your provision. Remember, the LA have no right to demand access to your home, or to your child/ren in order to assess suitability.

School are refusing to deregister or demanding a meeting or forms be filled in.

If you are deregistering your child from a mainstream school in England or Wales then the deregistration letter you sent should be actioned immediately. Failure to do so is in breach of law and guidance.
We have Failure to Deregister template letters you can send to school.

If school are claiming you have to meet with them, or fill in forms, we suggest you remind them that the deregistration letter was a notice not a request, and that you are not obliged or required to do either, they should deregister the child immediately and forward your details to the Local Authority. You may find the failure to deregister templates useful to quote from.

What is deschooling?

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. However, it is important to never mention the term deschooling to the LA.

Unfortunately, the DfE EHE guidelines state that “Some parents may go further and describe this period as being necessary for “deschooling”. There is no legal basis for such a position. Any statement along these lines could be an indication that the child is not being properly educated.” This is in section 6.2 of the guidance. However, it goes on to say :

“It is not unreasonable that good home education develops with experience as a child becomes used to being in a different learning environment and parents “find their feet”, and it would be unrealistic to make a judgement about the suitability of home education provision only a few days after it is started. However, families should be aiming to offer satisfactory home education from the outset, and to have made preparations with that aim in view, as time lost in educating a child is difficult to recover. In such cases, a reasonable timescale should be agreed for the parents to develop their provision…”

It is clear, the DfE when writing the updated guidance in 2019 had no understanding of the vital necessity of deschooling. The guidance shows a massive disregard for the need to deschool both the parent and child.

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 in this time, time that you have been actively avoiding school type thinking.

Some children and parents will choose not to deschool at all, and that is ok, each family should do what is best for them.

It is all too often that the parents need time to deschool more than the child!

It’s important to note that we have noticed, often when a family hasn’t deschooled they run into difficulties a few months in. They find the child is refusing to engage, is getting angry that the parent is trying to be teacher etc. these families usually then have to deschool and ‘reset’, many being annoyed they didn’t deschool to start with.

See our dedicated DESCHOOLING page for more information.

I’m scared the school/LA will call social services.

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

Most of these kind of referrals are dealt with swiftly, most referrals end with a quick phone call from a social worker who quickly sees the referral was malicious and/or misguided. 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. You can remind the social worker that school had no concerns pre deregistering to Home Educate and their referral is malicious.

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.

What do I do if I receive a school application?

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.

The form may attempt to get you to inform them that you will be Home Educating, but you do not legally have to tell them. There is no benefit to telling them, especially as there is no support, funding or advise available from the LA EHE team.

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.

If someone from the LA contacts you (and your child is over compulsory school age (term after their fifth birthday)) asking how your child is educated, then you will need to inform them that your child is Home Educated, this avoids the LA listing your child as CME.

What do we do if we are stopped whilst out, and asked why our child is not in school?

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 to be allowed on your way. 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 we advise giving 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. They quote the law and will have your contact details on in case your child is stopped. They can boost yours and your child’s confidence in situations where you may be stopped, but they are not a necessity.

Can we use a childminder?

Yes you can. And you may be able to claim some of the costs back if you are working. However, you, the parent are still legally responsible for ensuring your child is receiving a suitable full-time education (there is no legal definition of full-time, it does not mean school hours) for children of compulsory school age (term after the 5th birthday).

The childminder is allowed to provide support for ‘homework’ type learning, or other agreed upon learning, but the parent is legally responsible for the suitability of that education, so you will need to have regular communication with the childminder to ensure you are satisfied with what and how your child is learning.

A childminder is not likely to agree to providing extensive hours of educational support and should not be used as the primary educator.

I’m a childminder can I Home Educate and still work?

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.

Can I claim benefits and Home Educate?

Yes you can, but if you are claiming JSA or Universal Credits 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.

You can now claim for children post 16 who are new to Home Education, if they have special needs.

See our other dedicated benefits pages Tax Credits Universal Credits Child Benefit

Can I work and Home Educate?

Yes, many parents find that being self-employed works brilliantly with Home Educating, others manage to work and schedule shared parenting/childcare.
Don’t forget Home Ed doesn’t have to be 9-3.30.

What should I do if my child’s other parent doesn’t agree with Home Education.
How do Home Educators access vaccines and other referrals usually done through school?

Your child is entitled to the same medical care a schooled child can access. You can do this through your GP or school nurse (they are assigned to all children in an area, rather than just a school).
You can ask your GP surgery to regain care of your school age child from the school nurse team, though in most areas, the school nurse deals with vaccinations and referrals.

Are we allowed to part-time Home Educate or Flexischool?

You can certainly make a request to, though it’s advisable you read our flexi pages.

I struggle to understand so much written information, do you have alternatives?

We have written our website in small bitesize chunks, take your time and read a little each time. But we have created this flowchart, it explains the deregistration and contact with the LA.

What is CSA/Compulsory school age?

A child legally should be in education the term after their fifth birthday, until the last Friday in June of what would be year 11 (the school year they turn 16).

Post 16 to 18 the government recommends they should be in full time education, training or work, however this is not enforceable beyond most 16-18 year olds not being able to claim out of work benefits in their own right.