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Luton Borough Council

Elective home education

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Department of Education blog

All you need to know about home schooling and elective home education - a blog from the DfE (20 October 2020)

DfE blog

As a parent/carer you have a duty to ensure that a child of statutory school age (5 to 16 years) receives an education. This is usually by sending a child to school on a regular basis, but some parents decide to educate their child at home themselves.

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The Education Act (1996) requires that the parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause them to receive efficient full time education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude and to any special needs they may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

What do 'efficient' and 'suitable' mean?

The legal definition of these words is not included in the Education Act, however in practice education is efficient if it achieves what it sets out to achieve and 'suitable' only if it prepares the child for life in the modern world and enables them to achieve their full potential.

If you decide to educate your child at home you will be responsible for showing that the programme of work you set up is helping your child to learn and that your child is making the kind of progress which is appropriate for their age, ability and aptitude.

The style of learning need not be the same as that provided by a school but it must clearly show that your child is making progress.

Consider the respective merits of both home and mainstream education when making a decision on your child’s educational future.

Consider the costs involved; if you elect to home educate you will be responsible for all costs including books, equipment, field trips and any exam fees.

Consider the social aspects of your child’s development; how will your child engage in social activities and have contact with other children?

Consider how you will provide for your child’s physical development.

Consider how your education programme will impact on your child’s choices later in life; will they be able to return to school to sit GCSEs or A-levels?

Your child’s needs may change at different stages. If you do decide to home educate, the local authority will always be willing to help you find a place in a school which can best meet your child’s needs at any point in the future.

There may be many reasons why you are thinking about educating your child at home. It may be that you are prompted by religious considerations or because your child does not seem to be able to settle happily into school. It is a good idea to visit your child’s school at an early stage to discuss the matter with the headteacher, who will be able to talk about how your child reacts to school, the kind of curriculum the school is able to offer and the concerns you have about your child’s education.

If you are still unhappy about the school’s provision, the education welfare officer for your school will be happy to try and resolve your concerns by taking to the school with you. If you still wish to educate your child at home, an education welfare officer will explain the process of removing your child from school and offer advice on the kind of education you will need to provide.

If you decide to withdraw your child from school to home educate you MUST inform the school in writing so that their name can be removed from the school roll. Please be aware that should you decide to return your child to school, they will not have an automatic right of admission to their previous school.

As long as your child is on a school register it is an offence to fail to send them to school regularly, so you need to inform your child’s headteacher about your decision to home educate or you may risk being prosecuted for your child’s non-attendance.

You should inform the Headteacher of your child’s school in writing that you wish to withdraw them to home educate. You may wish to use the form, which can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.

Our elective home education officer will make contact with families who are educating children at home. An initial visit will usually be arranged where they can discuss with you the plans you have in place for your child’s education. They will not tell you how to teach your child but can offer support in drawing up an education plan.

They are likely to discuss the following with you:

  • how you are planning to ensure your child is offered a broad and balanced curriculum
  • what are your short and long term plans?
  • have you considered how you might link together different subjects or topics?
  • how will the work be organised?
  • how do you provide for your child’s physical development?
  • how do you plan a mixture of work including practical activities as well as written tasks?
  • how do you arrange for your child to mix socially with others?
  • are you likely to involve a tutor?
  • how will you record your child’s progress/difficulties?
  • will your programme allow later access to further/high education, if appropriate?
  • will a wide range of career opportunities be available to your child?
  • are you planning for your child to take exams and how will you facilitate this? It is often difficult to find suitable exam centres and the costs of exams such as GCSEs can be expensive

The elective home education officer will usually meet with the parent/carer in the family home. Meetings can be arranged at alternative venues should you prefer this. Parents/carers are not legally obliged to share information with the local authority regarding arrangements for elective home education, but the local authority may then conclude that your child is not receiving a suitable education and would then have a duty to take action to get your child back into school.

Parents/carers can provide the elective home education officer with a written programme of work, arrange a home visit involving the child or do both. The officer needs to be satisfied that you can demonstrate that suitable education is being provided.

If the elective home education officer is not satisfied, they will share their concerns and you will be given a reasonable time to rectify the situation. If the local authority is still not satisfied, they will require you to register your child at a school. If your child does not attend school and the standard of elective home education provided is not deemed to be suitable, the local authority would be required by law to prosecute.

This would only happen if the elective home education officer was convinced that you were not educating your child according to their age, ability and aptitude and if, following a detailed discussion of the issues, the situation was not shown to have improved.

The elective home education officer will usually visit families every 12 months, although visits will be more frequent if there are concerns. If your child had a Statement of Special Educational Needs or an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan while at school then the local authority retains the duty to review the statement/plan and your child’s progress on an annual basis.

You are not required to have a detailed plan covering several years but you should show that you are serious about your child’s education and that you are systematic in your planning.

Try and ensure that the learning process is as active, practical and participative as possible and systematically planned. Place great importance on literacy and numeracy in your programme.

Try and take full advantage of all the resources available around you. This could include:

  • making contact with other local families who are home educating
  • using educational sites on the Internet
  • including a programme of educational visits
  • using educational TV and radio programmes
  • visiting libraries to make use of books and ICT resources

Make your approaches to learning more enjoyable by varying the style and content and the processes it involves. Where necessary give opportunities for independent study and research and provide a quiet study area.

A curriculum is what you decide to teach your child. The government says that a child should have a broad and balanced curriculum, that is covering a wide range of subjects and ensuring an appropriate amount of time is spent on each.

In schools this means that children are taught the National Curriculum of English, Maths, science, computing, information technology (IT), physical education (PE), history, design technology, geography, art and music and children aged 5 to 14 and a modern foreign language from 7-16.

Religious Education (RE) must also be taught, and for secondary aged pupils relationships and sex education. Schools are also responsible for developing other aspects of life such as spiritual, moral, social and cultural strengths which go towards making responsible citizens.

You are not expected to teach your child the full National Curriculum, however in order to help your child enter adult life equipped to find work and be a good citizen you should carefully consider how you can ensure:

  • good English and Maths skills
  • working knowledge of IT
  • personal and social development
  • spiritual and moral understanding
  • physical development
  • some understanding of the world of work

Opportunities to mix with other children and adults away from the home and family will also be very important.

You are free to decide what to teach your child and how you teach it as long as you can demonstrate that it is appropriate to your child’s needs. Children learn in many different ways and at different speeds so you will need to be aware of how your child is progressing in order to encourage and challenge them to achieve.

You do not have to follow a set timetable in the same way that a school does but you need to know what you intend to do and when so that you can monitor how your child is doing.

All young people are required to continue in education or training until the young person reaches their 18th birthday, although, in practice, the vast majority of young people continue until the academic year in which they turn 18.

Participation does not necessarily mean staying on at school but could include full time study in a school, college or with a training provider or a work based placement combined with education or training.

Follow this link for further information from Youth Advice Luton.

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Contact info
Elective Home Education service
Education Service, Luton Council, Town Hall, George Street, Luton, LU1 2BQ
Tel: 01582 548041

[email protected]


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