One of the first things to think about when considering home schooling is the law: what are the legal requirements for home schooling and who is responsible for monitoring home education? This blog gives a brief overview of the current UK laws around home schooling.
One of the first questions that people ask when considering home schooling is: what is the law? Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 states:
It is the 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.
According to UK law, all parents have the right to educate their child at home. The Education Act does not define ‘efficient’ education, nor does it stipulate how many hours is considered ‘full-time’. As most children attend school for approximately 25 hours a week, parents and carers who home educate often use this as a guide. Parents have the option to home school full-time or part-time. When deciding to withdraw a child from school, parents must write to the head teacher. If a parent requests to withdraw their child in order to home school full-time, a head teacher must accept. However, if the parent wishes to withdraw their child part-time, the head teacher has the right to refuse. This is because it can be disruptive for a class if children attend part-time. If a child attends special school under a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education Health and Care Plan, parents must also inform the local authorities that they are removing the child from school.
There is no legal obligation to follow the national curriculum or to take exams. You do not need to have a fixed timetable, have formal lessons or observe school hours. The only legal obligation is for parents to provide full-time education that suits the age, ability and aptitude of the child.
Each local authority has a different set of rules and systems in place with regards to home schooling. If you are considering home education, it is important to contact your council and find out what they expect. Information for each council can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/home-schooling-information-council Most local authorities will want to conduct a meeting to discuss with you which provisions you will put in place to home educate your child. Local authorities do not have a legal duty to routinely monitor the quality of home schooling. However, they can make an ‘informal enquiry’ to check that suitable education is being provided. Parents can show that they are providing ‘efficient’ and ‘suitable’ education through reports, samples of children’s work, or arranging a meeting with an education officer. If the authorities do not feel that suitable education is being provided, they can serve a School Attendance Order.