Information for parents who are electively home educating

Information parents or carers who are educating their children at home, or who are considering this as an option. 

What is Elective Home Education (EHE)?

Elective Home Education is when parents or carers choose not to send their child to school, but to educate their child otherwise than at school. Parents who are home educating take full responsibility for ensuring that their child receives a suitable education. Elective home education includes if the child is attending an online school; if the child is taught by a tutor; if the child attends a tuition centre; if the parents provide all the child’s teaching; or a mixture of all these options.

What should I consider before choosing EHE?

Providing your child’s education yourself is a big commitment and can require a lot of time and energy. It can also involve significant costs, as parents must pay for any books, materials and resources the child needs. When done well, it can be a satisfying and enriching way of providing your child’s education, but it is not a decision to take lightly.

Teachers specialise in their subjects, and it may be difficult for one person to teach a broad range of subjects. Think about how you will approach teaching subjects you are not an expert in yourself. Will you need extra resources, or need to employ a tutor?

In school children are able to try a broad range of activities that they may not be able to at home, such as playing a musical instrument, playing different sports, or going on school trips. Think about whether you will be able to provide a variety of activities for your child’s development.

Schools provide more than just lessons. It’s also important for children to have social contact with children their own age. Building friendships, socialising and developing communication skills are all an important part of the school experience. Consider how you will be able to compensate for this, and what other opportunities for socialising you can organise.

What are my responsibilities as a parent?

When parents choose to home educate, they take full responsibility for their child’s education. This means they must provide all the materials, resources and books that the child may need, and meet the financial cost of those resources themselves. If you decide to home educate, you must ensure your child receives a full-time, efficient education suitable to your child’s age, ability and aptitude. The education should prepare your child for life in modern society, and help them fulfil their potential.

What is the role of the local authority (Islington Council)?

Your local authority has a legal duty to ensure that all children living in the borough are receiving a suitable education. If you decide to home educate, we will contact you to discuss this decision and your plans for your child’s education. We will then make contact periodically (approximately once a year) while your child is compulsory school age, to ensure that your child is receiving a suitable education.

If we have reason to believe your child is not receiving a suitable education, we will contact you to discuss this. We may ask to see evidence, such as reports, samples of your child’s work, or meetings to discuss your child’s progress. If the local authority is not satisfied that a child is receiving a suitable education, they may issue a School Attendance Order and / or the court may make an Education Supervision Order, which require a parent to register their child at a school. These are a last resort after all reasonable steps have been taken to improve the child’s education.

The local authority also has a duty to safeguard all children living in the borough, including children who are home educated. If you employ other people to work with your child (such as tutors) we recommend that you carry out appropriate checks, and make arrangements to supervise them. Find out more information about choosing a tutor in Islington here and information about criminal record checks from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Do I need to tell my child’s school that they will be home educated?

Yes. If you decide to home educate, you must inform your child’s school in writing (by email or letter) that you will be withdrawing them from the school. The school will then remove your child from their register and notify the local authority.

  • Do I need to follow the National Curriculum?

No. Parents who are home educating must provide their children with a suitable and efficient education, but it does not have to follow the national curriculum. However, many parents find the structure of the national curriculum useful when designing their educational programme. Also, many other books and resources you may use will follow the levels of the national curriculum.

  • What is a suitable education?

Parents who are home educating are responsible for providing their children with a suitable education. This means that the education is appropriate to the child’s age, abilities and interests; and that it is suitable for any special education needs the child may have.

  • Do I need to follow a school timetable?

No. There is no obligation to follow a set timetable, although you may find the structure of a routine helpful. Your child must receive a full time education. As a guide, children who go to school attend for 190 days a year. The Department for Education recommends weekly teaching hours of:

21 hours for 5-7 year olds
23.5 hours for 8-11 year olds
24 hours for 12-16 year olds

  • Can my child still take exams?

Yes. While it is not mandatory for home schooled children to take exams (such as GCSEs), you can enter them for these qualifications. Parents will be responsible for organising and paying for exam entry. You will need to contact the exam board directly to enter. Find out more from the exam boards.

Remember that different exam boards cover different topics, so your child’s learning will need to fit the exam board they are entering. Many exam boards require coursework as part of their qualification, so remember to factor that into your timetable for the year.

  • Will the school or council provide resources?

No. If you decide to electively home educate, the school will not provide any materials, resources or lesson plans. Parents become responsible for providing all resources for their child’s education.

  • Is there any funding available?

No. All financial costs associated with home education must be met by the parents. This includes any books, resources or materials you may need. If you choose to employ a tutor or for your child to attend online school, you must meet this cost yourself. If you choose to enter your child in exams (e.g. GCSEs), then you are responsible for the cost of entry too.

  • Can I Electively Home Educate if my child has an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP)?

Yes, you can still choose to home educate if your child has SEN, including if your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). If your child has an EHCP, the local authority has a duty to ensure that your child’s needs are met, including if they are educated at home. We recommend you discuss with your SEN Keyworker if this would be the best option for your child.
If your child attends a special school, you will need to have permission from the Local Authority before you can withdraw them from the school roll.

  • Can my child return to school later?

Yes. While your child is statutory school age, they can return to mainstream school at any point, no matter how long you have been home educating. However, it may not be possible for your child to return to the same school they were attending before home education as their place may have been filled.

You can find out more information about applying to schools in Islington here, or by contacting Islington’s School Admissions team.

  • My child’s school wants me to Electively Home Educate. Do I have to?

No. It is entirely your choice whether to home educate, and your child’s school cannot pressure you into withdrawing your child. If you feel that your child’s school is putting pressure on you to remove your child, please contact the Access and Engagement Service.

  • Who can I ask for further advice?

If you wish to talk to the local authority about home education, you can contact the Access and Engagement Service.

If you would like independent information and advice, you may wish to consult the Home Education Advisory Service.

Useful resources

Find ideas for online resources to help with home education.

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