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.
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.
You DON’T have to: (unless you want to)
follow the National Curriculum, or any bought curriculum
adhere to school times or terms
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
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.
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.
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.
No, you don’t have to meet them. However, the new EHE guidance for Wales puts strong emphasis on the LA asking to meet you and your child, plus seeing what your child has been learning. We have the full breakdown of the EHE guidance HERE and our shorter explanation of how we recomemnd dealing with the Welsh LAs.
NOTE You should ALWAYS respond to their letters and never ignore their correspondence.
Yes they can.
It is the parent’s responsibility to find an exam centre that accepts external candidates and to pay the fee. New EHE guidance recommends LAs keep the details of exam centres though these are possible only with WJEC.
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.
Terms and abbreviations like EHE, EWO, SAO and more, can make your Home Education journey seem complicated, we aim to explain them all HERE.
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.
New Welsh guidance puts a strong emphasis on LAs doing everything they can to find children who are unknown to them. This now means you are less likely to stay off their radar.
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).
If your child is starting Home Education after finishing primary school and you are not applying for a secondary school place then you do not need to do anything. However, school is likely to keep pushing for information about where your child will be going, and wanting them to go on taster days. Informing school that you will be Home Educating risks them trying to change your mind, saying untruths to the child etc. You do not legally have to inform school that you will be Home Educating, but the Welsh EHE guidance puts emphasis on keeping track of where children are living and being educated.
Unfortunately the new Wales EHE guidance encourages LAs to track people who ‘disappear’ so whilst you don’t legally have to inform school or the LA of your whereabouts it can possibly trigger a missing person situation. We would live to be able to say you don’t have to tell them where you are moving to, or that you will be Home Educating, but you will need to read the EHE guidance yourself and make that decision.
No, but… the 2023 changes to the EHE guidance for Wales puts strong emphasis on meeting the parent and child, we think there is the opportunity to not accept a meeting, and provide a report instead, please read our dedicated Wales page.
It’s important to remember that Home Education is not always ‘work’, often times it is a discussion, a game, or an outing etc. The 2023 EHE guidance does state the LA should ask for a meeting where you will show exampled of the child’s work, however we believe this guidance is not legal nor appropriate. We suggest reading this page to choose the approach you want to take.
It’s vital that you never ignore correspondence, here’s lots more info and template letters you can use.
In Wales the LA are expected to respond to you with a written report within 10 days. Chase them and remind them they have a duty to respond in that time scale.
Yes, unfortunately the May 2023 EHE guidance has made it very different, this page should explain what has happened.
Unfortunately the 2023 changes to the EHE guidance put lots of emphasis on meeting the parent and the child, if you decide to go ahead and meet them, then choose to do it in a library or similarly neutral place.
If you are deregistering your child from a mainstream school in 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.
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.
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.
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, remember that some SWs don’t understand Home Education law, you can remind the social worker that school had no concerns pre deregistering to Home Educate and their referral is malicious and go on to explain what Home Education is.
If re concerned about a school or LA reporting you maliciously, then include this quote in your correspondence.
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.
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.
However, it is worth noting the 2023 changes to EHE guidance encourages LAs to do everything they can to identify and find children who are not known to them, this could include checking the birth registry etc. Please read the EHE guidance breakdown HERE to decide on your course of action.
Home Education is a legal option you are doing nothing wrong by being out and about in the day time, 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 and walk away.
Be aware that you are not obliged to share your details. However, the 2023 changes to EHE guidance appears to encourage truancy sweeps to be more demanding and assertive. Be confident and remember unless you are stopped by a police officer and suspected of a crime you do not have to give your details.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
We have written our website in small bitesize chunks, take your time and read a little each time. You can also join us on our Facebook group.
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.
There is a government consultation about proposed new EHE (England) guidance. We will be producing a guide ASAP to help you respond, so no need to rush in.
For now, have a read, BUT DO NOT PANIC ABOUT THE PROPOSED CHANGES: