Elective home education (EHE)
Welcome to the elective home education service. This page provides information for parent's who are considering educating their child at home, as well as on-going guidance for existing home educators. Colleagues in the service respect parents rights to elect to educate their child at home and aim to support them in making an informed decision.
Some parents take a carefully considered decision to home educate their child before they reach school age. Others may decide on this approach, after careful consideration, later on in the child’s school career. The reasons for deciding on this approach are many, as are the different styles of the education provided by parents.
Educating a child at home is a great responsibility and involves considerable commitment of time, energy and finance. It is not something that should be taken on lightly but we recognise that when parents do this well children can thrive, be successful in their learning, go on to further and higher education and to have fulfilling careers.
“Parents have a right to educate their children at home, and the government wants the many parents who do it well to be supported. They devote time, financial resources and dedication to the education of their children. Most parents who take up the weighty responsibility of home education do a great job, and many children benefit from being educated at home. Educating children at home works well when it is a positive, informed and dedicated choice.” DfE elective home education - departmental guidance for local authorities, April 2019.
We aim to support parents in their choice. We would encourage parents who are considering elective home education as an option for their child to make themselves familiar with the information and guidance provided on this page before finalising any decision.
Parents are advised to read the local authority policy on elective home education Luton Council Elective Home Education (EHE) Policy and to familiarise themselves with the Department for Education (DfE) guidance: Elective home education: Departmental guidance for parents, DfE April 2019. If the child currently attends school we would encourage parents to discuss consideration of this option with the school and to contact our service for an informal discussion.
By law parents and carers must make sure that their children receive a suitable education. By law, the local authority is responsible for ensuring education provided at home is suitable.
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Parents are responsible for ensuring their child is properly educated. While many parents fulfil this responsibility by ensuring their child attends a school parents may elect to educate their children at home. The Education Act (1996) states 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.
A parent electing (choosing) to educate their child at home is responsible for all aspects of the child’s learning (even if this is a temporary measure, such as while awaiting a school place). This includes:
- Ensuring that the education provided is suitable: there should be a minimum standard even if choosing not to follow the National Curriculum which enables the child, when they become an adult, to function as an independent UK citizen, and beyond the community in which they are brought up if the child chooses to.
- Ensuring that the education is efficient: so if it is aiming to enable the child to make good progress across a number of subjects, it is the responsibility of the parent to ensure that the education they provides enables this to happen. The parent should be able to demonstrate that the child is making progress in their learning.
- Ensuring that the education is full time: the parent should be able to quantify and demonstrate the amount of time for which their child is being educated and this should occupy a significant proportion of the child’s life.
- Planning a suitable package of education: the parent should be able to demonstrate that the programme of work they have put in place is appropriate to the child’s age, level of ability and any special needs they may have.
- Providing tuition: this may be the parent teaching the child or providing other forms of tuition such as online schooling, private tutoring or attendance at tuition centres or group activities.
- Providing appropriate learning resources: such as laptop, tablet or computer, Internet access, study books and work books, art materials, PE equipment etc. Parents should be aware that resources are not provided by the Local Authority and parents are responsible for funding these themselves.
Is home education right for your child’s learning?
- Mainstream education and home education both have benefits for the child, which will suit your child and your circumstances best?
- Will learning away from their peers be right for the child? Will they respond well to the education that you will be putting in place for them?
- How will you provide for social and emotional aspects of your child’s development? How will you engage them in social learning and contact with other children? Will you be able to plan a suitable package of education?
Planning for education is the parent’s responsibility and ideally needs to start before your child starts being educated at home. On-going planning will be needed to ensure that your child is receiving a suitable education. This can require a significant time commitment from the parent.
- How will you provide for your child’s physical development?
- Will you have sufficient funds to pay for resources, books, subscriptions, stationary, tuition, educational visits, exam fees etc?
When electing to home educate parents take on full financial responsibility for every aspect of the child’s education. There are no grants or funding from the local authority of the Department for Education (DfE).
Are you able to make a significant time commitment?
It is important for a parent to be aware of the time involved in planning, identifying resources, teaching and/or supervising the child’s learning. Unless subscribing to an online school, tuition centre or private tuition, it will be a long-term commitment whilst your child is being home educated.
Be aware that awaiting a school place may be for an extended period of time. Some parents assume they will get a place within the next term, whereas many awaiting places in oversubscribed schools may end up home educating indefinitely.
Have you read the Department for Education guidance and Local Authority Policy?
A parent needs to be clear about the expectations on them before deciding to choose to home educate. These documents clearly set out the expectations for the parents and the Local Authority’s role in monitoring the education being provided.
How will you ensure your child is making progress?
We understand that a parent wants the best for their child, so you will want to consider how you will ensure that they are making good progress across the curriculum. You will need to think about how you’ll assess their progress so that you know how well they are learning and what areas they need extra practice or teaching in.
How will the education package you provide impact on your child’s choices later in life?
Will they be able to follow GCSE syllabuses? Will you be able to organise and pay for them to be entered for exams as a private candidate?
Can you allocate a satisfactory study area?
Your child will need a space that enables them to be educated efficiently - this may be a dedicated study are that is away from distractions and lots of noise so that they can focus on their learning.
There are many reasons parents consider educating their children at home, such as:
- a philosophical view point about education
- being unhappy with the school system
- a short term plan because a child is unable to go to school, or while awaiting a place in a preferred school
- to develop the parent/child relationship
- to meet a child’s complex or special needs
- religious considerations.
Whatever the reasons, if you are considering withdrawing your child from school, contacting the school at an early stage is advisable. You should discuss any concerns you may have about your child’s education and your consideration of the option to elect to home educate with the head teacher or senior staff member.
They will be able to talk with you about:
- your child’s experience in school
- the curriculum offered by the school
- any concerns you may have about your child’s education.
If you are still considering withdrawal you may wish to contact the elective home education service for an informal conversation with a member of the team. They will be able to discuss the responsibilities and expectations for home educating parents.
You may also wish to contact the Education Welfare Officer for the school who will:
- talk with you and the school to see if any concerns can be resolved
- further explain the process of withdrawing the child from the school roll
- offer advice on the expectations for providing education at home.
If you decide that home education would best suit the needs of your child you must inform the school in writing so that they can remove your child from the school roll. While they remain on the school roll, failure to send them to school can result in prosecution for non-attendance. Parents need to be aware that there is no guarantee that the child’s school place will still be available if they later decide to return to school.
Informing the school in writing is a simple process and we would ask you to use the withdrawal from school notice, complete it electronically and email it to the school. (Alternatively you can print it out and fill it in by hand before posting or delivering it to the school).
Children with an Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP)
Where a child has an EHCP we ask that parents contact their allocated officer in the Special Education Needs Assessment Team (SENAT) before they are taken off the school roll. SENAT and EHE officers will meet with the parent to discuss the parent’s plans for home education and to ensure that the child’s education needs and objectives outlined in the EHCP will be met. The request will then be considered by the SEND Provision Panel before the child is removed from the school roll.
Children who have not yet started school
If your child is not currently attending school, the DfE strongly recommend that you notify the local authority of your intention to home educate when your child becomes of statutory school age, in order to provide you with relevant advice and support.
Under Section 436A"local authorities must make arrangements to find out so far as possible whether home educated children are receiving suitable full time education" elective home education departmental guidance for local authorities, DfE April 2019
The local authority aims to establish positive and supportive relationships with home educating families, recognising the rich and diverse range of approaches, philosophies and methods.
The elective home education service keeps a register of all children whose parents have chosen to home educate them. On receiving notice that a parent has elected to home educate their child, the child will be placed on the register and allocated to an elective home education officer.
The officer will make contact with the family to arrange an initial appointment where parents can discuss the plans they have in place for the child’s education. The officer will not give directions on the methods of teaching or resources to be used, but will give support and guidance.
The discussion may include:
- parents plans to ensure the child is offered a broad and balanced curriculum
- short and long term plans
- how the work will be organised
- planning for a mixture of work including written tasks and practical activities
- provision for physical development
- opportunities for mixing with other children of a similar age for education and/or social interaction
- possible involvement of a tutor, tuition centre and/or online schooling
- how the parent will record and demonstrate progress and how the child will be helped to overcome difficulties in their learning
- how the education package will enable the child to access further education, higher education or career opportunities
- plans for the child to take exams and how this will be facilitated - including the need to identify a suitable exam centre, and exam fees which can be expensive
This meeting may take place in the family home although meetings can be arranged at alternative venues if parents prefer (or using video calls such as Zoom).
In some cases parents may wish to provide the EHE officer with a written report of the package of education and the child’s progress. This report needs to demonstrate that suitable education is being provided.
If the EHE officer is not satisfied that suitable education is being provided, they'll share their concerns and parents will be given a reasonable time to rectify the situation. If the local authority is still not satisfied, parents will be required to register their child at a school.
If your child does not attend school and the standard of EHE provided is not deemed to be suitable, the local authority would be legally obliged to proceed with a School Attendance Order.
This would only happen if the EHE officer was convinced that the parent was not educating the 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 EHE officer will usually visit families at least every 12 months, although visits will be more frequent if there are concerns. If your child had a statement of special educational needs (SEN) 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.
Parents are not legally obliged to share information with the local authority regarding arrangements for EHE, however if the local authority feels it has insufficient information about the education being provided and it appears that the child is not receiving a suitable education at home it may be necessary to refer the child to the children missing education team who may serve a school attendance order.
The local authority also has a safeguarding responsibility for all home educated children. Should any member of the elective home education service have any concerns regarding a child’s safeguarding they are obliged to share these concerns with relevant agencies within the local authority.
"Families should be aiming to offer satisfactory home education from the outset, and to have preparations with that aim in view …. there should be no significant period in which a child is not receiving suitable education." Elective home education: Departmental guidance for local authorities, DfE April 2019
Parents aren't required to have a detailed plan covering several years but they should be able to demonstrate that they are committed to their child’s education and are systematic in planning an efficient, fulltime and suitable education.
It is advisable that some planning is done in advance of the child being taken off a school roll so that the child can start a suitable home education from the outset. Just as in schools teachers plan in advance so that children can begin their learning from the start of the September term.
Parents will identify a broad range of subjects their child will be taught, and this will include, for the majority of children, English, Maths and Science and opportunities for Physical Development and Social and Emotional Development. Other subjects and learning opportunities may also be included.
They may wish to draw up a timetable so that both parent and child know what subjects to expect each day. This may be flexible and incorporate other learning opportunities and activities.
Planning will need to take into account the age, ability and aptitude of the child and enable the child to be taught efficiently so that they make progress.
Parents may make use of a number of approaches and resources when planning for their child’s home education such as:
- online schooling
- text books, study books and work books
- online planning resources
- other online resources and educational websites to supplement the learning
- networks of other home educating parents for group activities and social and emotional development opportunities
- sports and activity centres, classes and groups
- private tutors and tuition centres – it is important that parents are aware of the need to select tutors, tuition centres or study centres with care.
Parents may also want to consider how the child’s learning will be recorded and organised such as using exercise books, notebooks, files and folders, as well as photographs and digital records of the child’s learning. They will also need to consider how their planning will enable the child to make progress throughout the year and how this will be demonstrated.
While parents are not obliged to follow the National Curriculum it may be helpful to refer to this to ensure that the education is suitable to the child’s age and ability.
A curriculum is the content of learning that a child is taught. A good curriculum is one which consists of a broad and balanced range of learning opportunities and/or subjects which ensure intellectual, social, emotional, spiritual and physical development.
In maintained, community and foundation schools children aged 5 to 14 are taught National Curriculum subjects of:
- Art and Design
- Design and Technology
- Physical Education (PE).
Teaching of a foreign language is expected from the age of 7 (Year 3) and Citizenship from the age of 11 (Year 7).
From the age of 14 schools are expected to teach:
- Physical Education (PE)
- Several other subjects are included but these are based on the child’s options.
In Reception year (after the child’s 5th birthday until they transfer into Year 1) schools organise the curriculum around areas of learning, with a balance of teacher led activities, pupil led activities and opportunities to learn through play.
- Communication and Language (eg spoken language, being read to, stories, rhymes, role play, vocabulary and language structures)
- Physical Development (eg gross motor skills: strength, co-ordination, indoor and outdoor play, stability, balance; fine motor skills: e.g. small world, puzzles, arts and crafts, small tools etc.)
- Personal, social and emotional development (eg understand feelings of self and others, interactions with other children, friendship, cooperation resolving conflicts, persistence, patience, looking after body, healthy eating)
- Literacy (eg language comprehension - book activities, rhymes, poems and songs, word reading - letter names and sounds, phonics, sight, writing - letter formation, representing words with letters, simple phrases)
- Mathematics (eg understanding number, counting, patterns, spatial, shape, space and measures)
- Understanding the world (eg past and present, people, culture and communities, the natural world)
- Expressive Arts and Design (eg creating with a variety of materials (colour, texture, design), being imaginative (including role play) and expressive including music and movement)
Schools are also expected to teach Religious Education (RE), Personal Social and Health Education (PSHE) including Relationships Sex and Health Education (RSHE) and Citizenship.
Parents are not obliged to follow the National Curriculum however the Department for Education states:
“2.10 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;” Elective home education: departmental guidance for parents DfE April 2019
Many parents use the National Curriculum as a guide to what could be taught, and to ensure their child is not at a disadvantage if they later return to school, enter further education and/or higher education. Parents should consider how to ensure:
- development of competence in English and Mathematics
- understanding of concepts of Computer Science; use of information technology to solve problems, and that their child is a responsible, competent, confident user of information and communication technology
- development of understanding and skills across a range of subjects or areas of learning
- personal and social development
- physical development
- understanding of the world of work.
Parents should also consider how they will provide opportunities for their child to engage socially with other children from their age groups and adults beyond the family unit.
It is the parent’s responsibility to decide what to teach and how it will be taught, but it is essential that the parent can demonstrate that the planned education package is appropriate to the child’s age, ability and aptitude and any special needs they may have. Children learn in different ways and at different paces, and parents will need to be aware of the progress the child is making in order to motivate and challenge them to achieve.
Parents are not obliged to follow a set timetable in the same way that schools do, however it is important to know what is going to be taught, how and when so that it is possible to monitor the child’s learning and their progress.
“A child becomes of compulsory school age from the first of the following dates (31 August, 31 December or 31 March) which occurs after she or he becomes five years old (or if the fifth birthday falls on one of those dates, on that day). The child remains so until the last Friday of June in the academic year in which she or he becomes sixteen. Children may also be educated at home in order to participate in education and training until the age of 18” - DfE Elective home education: Departmental guidance for parents, April 2019.
At 16 she or he must then do one of the following until the age of 18:
- stay in full-time education, for example at a college
- start an apprenticeship or traineeship
- spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training
The elective home education service works closely with the Youth Advice Service. All Elective Home Educated pupils in year 11 are eligible for advice and support from the Youth Advice Service with exploring their options, and are referred to the service during the final half of the Autumn Term unless parents opt out of the offer of support. Find out more about Youth Service
Parents may decide to use private tutors for one or two subjects or to cover a broader range of the curriculum, but there is no requirement to do so. It is important that parents are aware of the need to select tutors, tuition centres or study centres with care; there is currently no requirement for private tutors to undergo Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks.
Tuition centres and other settings may not be regulated in any way so there may be no assurance that they comply with basic standards, such as proper vetting of staff and safeguarding children. You may wish to check references and ask to see a recent DBS disclosure certificate.
Under Section 175 of the Education Act 2002, the local authority has a general duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. The local authority has powers to insist on seeing children to enquire about their welfare where there are grounds for concern.
Such powers, however, do not give the local authority the ability to see and question children who are being home educated in order to establish whether they are receiving a suitable education.
The local authority will, nevertheless, aim to discharge its safeguarding functions in relation to home educated children by attempting to engage proactively with all home educating parents and will always seek to see, speak with and ascertain the views of children who are home educated.
Whilst the local authority recognises that children who are home educated are no more likely to be the subject of abuse or neglect than are children who attend school, the local authority nevertheless notes the particular circumstances of home educated children.
Should any safeguarding concerns emerge in the course of engagement with home educating families, or in consequence of a lack of engagement, these concerns will be consulted on with the safeguarding in education officer and, if deemed to have met the threshold of need and intervention, will then be promptly referred to children’s social care.
Whilst a failure to respond to the informal enquiries of the local authority will not in itself be seen as evidence of safeguarding concerns, a repeated and persistent failure to respond, together with other contextual information, may in certain circumstances cause the local authority to consider the need for further action.
If the parents of a child who is subject to a Child Protection Plan (CPP) declares an intention to home educate, the local authority will usually oppose this, unless it can be demonstrated that home education will be in the child’s best interests and will not prejudice the effective implementation of the child’s CPP.
If you decide that you no longer wish to home educate your child and would like them to attend a school you will need to complete a school application. You can apply for a school place, on our school admissions section.
You can discuss any concerns that you may have in relation to your child's transition into school with the elective home education officer, who can signpost you for support from the Access to Education Team
If you require support with completing an application for a school place please visit our Access to Education Team section.
Education Service, Luton Council, Town Hall, George Street, Luton, LU1 2BQ
Tel: 01582 548041