As a newbie home educator, I functioned with a lot of misconceptions. To help other families, this video sets out the home education law in the UK and explains what’s mandatory and what’s voluntary. I was once a UK qualified solicitor, so I’ve done my homework 😉
That said, never rely on any video or website where you have unique or special circumstances and this video does not replace qualified legal advice.
You can read more about our home educating journey at
1. Home education is legal in England and Wales.
Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 states that parents must ensure that their child receives a suitable and efficient education either by attendance at school or otherwise. Home educators fall into this “otherwise” group.
Parents must also ensure that their child’s education is efficient and suitable to the child’s age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he may have.
Broadly, this means you need to equip your child to be able to make his way in the word, find employment, and contribute to her community.
2. If you have never sent your child to school you do not have to inform anyone of your decision. The local authority may find out – often from a health visitor or other professional, but you have no obligation to inform anyone.
If you are removing a child from school you must degregister your child IN WRITING. Write a letter to your child’s head teacher telling them that as of X date you will be degregistering your child from school and to please remove their name from the school register. I have done this twice – always by email. I prefer email because it is date and time stamped. Some people prefer to hand deliver a hard copy of a letter or to send the letter recorded delivery. The choice is yours and no way is “safer” or more legal than any other way.
Please note – you do not need the head teacher’s permission. You are simply informing them of your decision. They have a statutory duty to remove your child’s name. They then inform the LA. But once you send the letter, your job is done.
Many head teachers will request a meeting with you and some will get quite confrontational and will try to dissuade you from degregistering. You are not obliged to attend any meetings with anyone. You can if you want, the choice is yours.
The caveat to the above is in the case of a child at a special school. You may still home educate but you must seek the head’s permission first – they will want assurances that you have thought about how to meet any special needs or the terms of any Statement of Special Educational Needs that may exist for your child. They may not unreasonably withhold their consent. Most are happy to consent and will support your decision.
3. You are not required to possess any special qualifications.
Any parent can home educate, regardless of their level of educational attainment. The wonder of the internet has made this much easier as there are innumerable on-line resources, including ways to connect with other parents and professionals who can support your and your child in your home education journey.
4. You do not need to keep to a timetable, maintain detailed records, submit to standardized testing, or follow the National Curriculum.
You can adopt any approach to home education that suits you and your family. Unschooling or “autonomous” education is perfectly legal.
5. The Local Authority has no role in monitoring your provision and are acting outside the scope of their legal authority when they ask you to attend meetings or to see samples of your lessons, your child’s work, or your records.
Many Local Authorities will write to you upon learning that you are home educating and will ask to visit you in your home. If your LA’s Elective Home Education Support Officer or an Educational Welfare Officer (EWO) asks for such a meeting and suggests to you that it is anything other than completely VOLUNTARY, they are acting “ultra vires” and are outside the scope of their authority.
The LA may wish to confirm with you that you are home educating, but they should ask for only the broadest details and only after giving you time to settle in to your new routine.
6. Within a few weeks of beginning home education, you may have an EWO come to your house unannounced. This is “door stepping” and you should refuse them. If this happens to you tell them that if they wish to discuss matters with you they should put their queries in writing and you will be in touch in due course.
And that is pretty much it!
Here are the EHE Guidelines for LAs:
Home education support/advocacy: