Being educated at home

Guidance for parents who are considering educating their children outside the school system.

Most parents choose to send their children to school to be educated, but you are legally entitled to educate your child at home.

You don't have to be a teacher, work to a timetable or follow the national curriculum (although you can if you wish).

If your child has never been to school or you are new to the area you don't have to inform the local authority, however we believe it would be beneficial for you to do so to benefit from the support and information the local authority has to offer.

If your child is registered at a school or an academy you must write to the headteacher by sending a letter or email informing them that you wish to educate your child at home. The local authority will then contact you to ask for some basic information.

You must contact us if:

  • Your child attends a special school - in this case we will ask the school to remove the child from the school register once we have received the necessary information regarding educational provision from you.
  • Your child is registered at a school or academy as a result of a school attendance order - you must ask the council to revoke the order.

If you would like to talk to our Elective Home Education Team about your decision to home educate, or you would like any further support and advice about any information on this site, please don't hesitate to contact the EHE team.

Frequently asked questions

Please click on the questions below.

What is full time education?

Children in home education are taught in very different conditions and there is no direct comparison with school based timetables or educational arrangements.

What is efficient and suitable education?

Efficient has been broadly described in case law as an education that achieves that which it sets out to achieve, and a suitable education is one that primarily equips a child for life within the community of which he is a member, rather than the way of life in the country as a whole, as long as it does not foreclose the child’s options in later years to adopt some other form of life if he wishes to do so (Department for Education EHE Guidelines Nov 2007, section 2.3).

It is up to parents to fulfil their duty according to any reasonable interpretation of the term. Certainly what is provided need not be the same kind of ‘lessons’ as are provided at school.

What about compulsory subjects?

For home educated children there are no compulsory subjects. The National Curriculum applies only to children of compulsory school age in maintained and foundation schools, including community special schools and voluntary aided and voluntary controlled schools. A number of home educating parents ask us about the National Curriculum and use it to support their education plans.

It is helpful to be aware of the National Curriculum if you wish your child to go to school, college, university or some other training at a later stage. Further information about the National Curriculum is available on the internet on the Department for Education website

What is ‘Raising the Participation Age’?

The Education and Skills Act (2008) places a duty on all young people to participate in education or training until their 18th birthday. From summer 2013 young people were required to continue in education or training until the end of the academic year in which they turn 17. From 2015, they are required to continue in education or training until their 18th birthday.

The DfE has accepted elective home education as one way for young people to comply with this legal duty, i.e. home education can continue after the end of compulsory school age. Please see appendix 1 for further information about support available to 14-16 year olds in Oxfordshire looking for work, training and education courses.

How do I go about it?

If your child is registered at a school you must first inform the Headteacher, in writing, who will de-register your child from that school. If your child has never been to school or you are new to the area you don't have to inform the Local Authority. However, we believe you would find it valuable to register your child with us to receive the support the Local Authority has to offer its home education community (please see below).

What if my child has a statement of special educational needs/education, health and care (EHC) plan?

You are within your rights to educate a child with special educational needs otherwise than at school. The Special Educational Needs Team will continue to coordinate an annual review for each child with a statement of special educational needs/EHC plan. For children who are registered at a special school and have a Statement of Special Educational Needs/EHC plan the situation is different: consent from the Local authority must be sought before removing your child from school to home educate. The Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations g (2) 1996 state:

‘a child who has under arrangements made by a local authority become a registered pupil at a special school shall not be removed from the admission register of that school without the consent of the authority or, if that authority refuse to consent, without a direction of the Secretary of State’.

By April 2018 all children and young people with statements will have transferred to EHC plans. For further information please refer to the new SEND Code and Oxfordshire’s SEN and Disability (SEND) Local Offer, which brings together information about education, health and care services for children and young people with SEND, 

What happens next?

Once informed of your decision to home educate, the lead EHE Officer will forward a copy of the booklet ‘Information for Elective Home Educators’. You will be asked to provide some basic information regarding the education of your child and offered an appointment with an EHE link worker to talk about your proposed arrangements for your child’s education and address any initial queries you may have about home education.

Many people find a home visit helpful, but parents may wish to meet at another venue, with or without their child. This meeting, however, is not compulsory.

What support is available from the local authority?

The local authority is able to offer parents advice and support through home visits conducted by a team of specialist EHE link workers as well as on going telephone and email correspondence. The team will refer to other agencies/colleagues where support for children/parents is required. The team liaises with colleges to facilitate the running of courses for 14-16 year old home educated young people and the health service to arrange drop in immunization sessions for home educators and ensure up-to-date health information is passed on to EHE families.

Support not available from the local authority Oxfordshire

Local authority is unable to offer direct teaching or provide materials for children being educated at home. You will also be responsible for organising, and insuring for, any work experience placements, should you wish this. Similarly, should you wish your child to take formal qualifications, you would have to find an exam centre willing to take a private candidate and pay for any associated costs.

If you choose to employ a private tutor it is your responsibility to ensure that this person has the right knowledge and skills to take on this role. It is entirely appropriate that any tutor should also be able to demonstrate Disclosure and Barring Service clearance and provide references.

How is the EHE Team involved in education at home?

The EHE Team has a duty to intervene under section 437(1) of the Education Act 1996 if it appears that parents are not providing a suitable education at home. The EHE Team will offer a home visit to discuss your child’s education.

We appreciate that you may not wish to meet an EHE Link Worker and instead may prefer to let us know about the education you are providing in other ways. For instance, you may choose one or more of the following:

  • Meeting with an EHE Link Worker, with or without your child being present at a mutually acceptable venue
  • Sending in information or an educational philosophy
  • Setting out your educational plans with examples of work
  • Demonstrating education provision in some other mutually acceptable way.

The main advantages of a home visit are that our team can offer support and guidance face to face and it allows you to present a wide range of work in context and to discuss your child’s work in a comfortable and private environment.

What if the EHE Link Worker has concerns or reservations about our education at home programme?

If the EHE Team believes that a suitable education is not taking place then further information will be sought and further visits, consultations and/or a referral to an early intervention hub for support may be offered with the aim of helping you to overcome the difficulties within a mutually agreed time scale.

If, in the end, the EHE Team still considers that your child is receiving a less than suitable education then it is Oxfordshire County Council’s duty to issue a School Attendance Order. This will require you to send your child to a school named on the Order (Section 437, Education Act 1996).

Can my child attend school part-time?

Government guidance states that “Schools should not mark a pupil as attending school, using the attendance code B for off-site education activity, unless the school is responsible for supervising the off-site education, and can ensure the safety and the welfare of the pupil off-site. Schools are ultimately responsible for the attainment of every child registered on their roll. Whilst being home educated, parents and carers are responsible for pupils, not schools.

"Where parents have entered in to flexi-schooling arrangements, schools may continue to offer those arrangements. Pupils should be marked absent from school during periods when they are receiving home education.”

Flexi-schooling arrangements are agreed between headteachers and parents. The local authority is not involved with these arrangements.

Can my child attend a Further Education College?

Colleges can claim the cost of course fees on an individual basis for home educated young people under 16. Please contact your local college for further information about courses 7 available (see appendix 2 for contact details).

Abingdon and Witney, City of Oxford, Banbury and Bicester, and Swindon Colleges offer courses to 14-16 year old home educated young people. However, places on these courses are limited.

What will happen if we decide to move?

We would be grateful if you let us know your new address by writing to, or phoning, the Lead EHE Officer (please see contact details below).

What if I decide to educate at home and then change my mind?

If at any time you should wish your child to enter or re-enter the school system the Admissions Team can offer advice and support as required. Please see appendix 2 for contact information. 

Further information

Oxfordshire Home Educators Yahoo Group

A group providing information and support for those currently home educating or considering home-education for their children. Members of the group can make initial contact with local, Oxfordshire home educators.

Events for Young People in Oxfordshire

Information about events for young people in Oxfordshire, including apprenticeship taster days and workshops open to home educated young people.