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The Law and Home Schooling in England and Wales

By: Louise Tobias BA (hons) - Updated: 23 Apr 2020 | comments*Discuss
Education Lea Local Education Authority

In England the Education Act on 1944 means that parents are legally obliged to educate their children, but do not have to do so by sending their child to school. The Direct Gov website (by the Government) lists a parent's duty. This is: that a 'child is not obliged to follow the National Curriculum or take national tests, but as a parent you are required by law to ensure your child receives full-time education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude'.

Parents or home tutors do not need to be a qualified teacher to educate a child at home, and do not have to apply for permission from a school or local educational authority (LEA) to educate a child at home. Home schooling parents are not obliged to observe school hours, days or terms, or indeed any kind of fixed timetable. Formal lessons are not required either - the only rule is that a child must be educated, and that education must be 'suitable' to the child's needs.

Parents of home schooled children who are already registered at a school (rather than those home educated from birth) do, however, have to notify the school in writing that they are taking your child out of school. Parents must also recognise any special educational needs that a child may have, and if a child's special educational needs have already been recognised and that child is receiving his or her education within a special school, parents must notify the LEA about taking the child out of the school.

The Education Act's Exact Wording

This is taken from the Education Act:
  • The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable: a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and (b) to any special education needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.
  • This latter phrase, 'education otherwise' has been taken on by a leading support group for home schooling education, 'Education Otherwise'.

The Duty of the LEA In England

Local authorities are permitted to make informal enquiries to home schooling parents to ascertain whether a child's education provision is suitable to his or her needs. If an LEA does make such an enquiry, a suitable response might be for a parent to write a report on a child's progress and present it to the LEA, or to provide the LEA with pieces of your child's work, or to offer to show a representative from the LEA a lesson taking place in your home, or to have a meeting an LEA representative in other location, either with or without your child.

If the LEA representative believes that a child is not receiving a suitable education, then the LEA can serve a school attendance order. But the LEA is not allowed to specify the kinds of education a parent should provide, or carry out an inspection based on their background of expectations of formal schooling.

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My husband, son and myself are moving to Bulgaria. I would like my child to carry on with his UK studying. May I ask the primary school (where my son is studying now) for support and what kind of support are they allowed to provide? Could they help with establishing his curriculum? What sort of help I can expect and require from them? I know and I have been trough few educational programmes who offer home-school programs but just wandered if I can benefit from some cooperation from the local school at all?
Joy - 23-Apr-20 @ 7:37 PM
My daughter is 15 and preping for her exams.. she has had no end of trouble at school.. i had a similar problem to you clare (from montrose) where i wasnt sure what to do. BUT i have read that children do not even have to by law take exams. At the end of the day YOU are the best judge on your child if he is not happy for ANY reason and you feel its the right thing to do for HIM i say go for it. I am. Schools put far to much stress on kids these days and its all for statistics, their numbers. Each child is an individual and will learn at their own pace. Why is it so important to know about the cold war and hitler? when they want to be a mechanic or vet, unless they want to become a teacher or a historian or something like that why stress about useless information. I found out (something i think i already knew) today that my daughter is so much more knowledgeable than me at angles and algabra etc... why? because its been drummed into her...AND i dont use it.. i stressed so much at school because i couldnt understand algabra to save my life but now i realise I DONT NEED IT... kids need to be kids and have the freedom to learn at their own pace.. kids learn everyday. Sometimes my 5 year old comes out with things so grown up that i didnt even know she knew the first thing about. Kids teach themselves most of the time. Whatever you decide good luck with it.
cullenco7 - 8-Jun-16 @ 8:10 PM
@clarefrom montrose. Do you feel your son would benefit from home schooling? If he is not statemented for special educational needs or learning difficulties, then you can just inform the school of your intentions. You should make sure you have all the necessary information about educating your son before taking him out of school. Check out local support groups and online forums etc.
AHomeEducation - 28-Apr-15 @ 2:07 PM
I have a son who is 15 who refuses to go to school he says he the school, he has only 1 year to go until he leaves school, he wants home schooling he is under social work i have asked them for help but i feel as they are not helping, the more i tell my son to go to school the more he digs his heels in, ive asked him if he is getting bullied time and time again but he says no, he will be going into 4th year next month i just dont know what to do, the school are bending over backwards to help but hes not budging.
clare from montrose, - 23-Apr-15 @ 3:35 PM
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