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The Law and Home Schooling in Scotland

By: Louise Tobias BA (hons) - Updated: 28 Nov 2017 | comments*Discuss
Education Child Scotland Home Schooling

Scotland and England have two separate Parliaments and two separate systems of law and administration, which affects their different education policies. However, the home schooling law in Scotland is close to that of England: in both countries parents are not obliged by law to sign up their child to a school, and are permitted by law to educate their child at home.

The central difference between Scottish and English education policy on home schooling comes into play when a child has already been attending a mainstream school, and therefore needs to be withdrawn from that school in order to start a home schooling education:

According to the Education (Scotland) Act 1980:

"Where a child of school age who has attended a public school on one or more occasions fails without reasonable excuse to attend regularly at the said school, then, unless the education authority have consented to the withdrawal of the child from the school (which consent shall not be unreasonably withheld), his parent shall be guilty of an offence against this section."

This means that when a parent wants to take a child out of school to be home schooled, he or she has to have permission from the Local Educational Authority (LEA).

Other Elements of Home Schooling Regulation in Scotland

It is generally assumed that in all other ways home schooling regulation in Scotland is the same as that in England. That means that parents by law have to educate their children, but that education does not have to occur within a school; the National Curriculum does not have to be followed; parents or home tutors in Scotland do not have to have a teaching qualification to teach a child at home

Home Schooling and the Local Education Authority in Scotland

LEAs in Scotland are not obliged by law to 'monitor' a child's home education, but they are permitted by law to informally do so, and they can serve a notice if they deem a parent's education of a child unsatisfactory for the child's age, academic ability and aptitude. If the LEA considers that the child's home education is not sufficient for his or her needs, they have a duty to intervene. Scottish educational policy recommends that LEAs should be in contact with home schooling families annually, but this is a recommendation, not an obligatory pronouncement.

The contact is usually made by writing to the family to set up a meeting or ask for a report of the child's education. After the contact has been made, the LEA will usually write to the family to say whether they believe that the educational provision is suitable for the child concerned. If the LEA does have concerns about a child's home school education, they will express those concerns to the parent. Ultimately the LEA has the power to serve an attendance order, which usually means a child will be required to attend school.

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Wow. Where to begin? This article is riddled with mistakes. The author even thinks we have LEAs in Scotland (we don't). Please, everyone ignore this "advice". It's wrong. Instead, go to an organisation that knows what it is talking about (most obviously Schoolhouse).
Scottish home edder - 19-May-17 @ 7:15 PM
I am in high school at the moment and I am also desperate to be homeschooled but my mum just doesn't seem to think it's a bad idea , do you need a social worker around to see if your parents are meeting your educational part of things or what I just don't know I'm trying to convince her any ideas ??
Nichola - 12-May-17 @ 3:03 PM
Why is there so little, if any, regulations in homeschooling, yet for our state run schools, parents have to ensure their children attend school and give legitimate reasons for their absence. If they don't, they are vilified for being guilty of neglect.Taking their children out of school early to go on holiday can hold the penalty of a 'fine' or even the fear of imprisonment. Parents wish to 'homeschool' for many diverse reasons. This I can understand and appreciate. Children learn in different ways and at different rates. However, what starts as having justifiable reasons for parents wishing to 'homeschool', can result in these same children being isolated and without any clear understanding of their place in society. We learn by interaction and discussions with our peers. This develops our use of language,comprehension and nuances. My grandchildren are being "homeschooled". I use the word 'schooled' reservedly, as more time is spent on computers games, doing their 'own thing'. The children have no friends outside their own family unit. They do not meet up with fellow homeschoolers, although there are such small groups in their area. Children need parameters, develop time management skills etc to prepare them for the future in further/higher education or employment. Homeschooling is not the soft or easy option. When taken seriously by the parent, children can blossom into confident and happy individuals, well prepared for a bright future.
chrystabel - 10-Apr-17 @ 12:46 AM
My son has never been happy at school and is in P4 Scotland. This is largely due to pressures within the playground which never seem to get resolved and ruined self esteem at the in class streaming of groups and additional support needs required. The thought of home schooling scares me as I was not particularly academic myself however I feel he is going to suffer emotionally if I don't change his learning situation. I just want my son to be happy and learn in an environment that is suited to his nature. Can any offer advice or reassurance on where I begin??
Wendy Anne - 6-Mar-17 @ 2:06 PM
What a wonderful site. While there might not be "quick" solutions or answers to people's distressed situations, it is an important point of contact so that people understand that they are not "alone". Unfortunately, Scotland is a case study in how governments (in this case local authorities) use legislation in punitive ways against their own citizens. It is happening worldwide. Just yesterday, the Victorian government (a state government in Australia) released a proposal to amend current regulations re home schooling. 3 days before Christmas they choose to release this draft legislation. This is a government that has already spent tens of millions of dollars introducing social engineering "education" programmes that are to be mandatory in state schools as of 2017/2018. These are euphemistically named, and are basically introducing Marxist concepts of gender identity, derision of non-Marxist values, and alienation of family members. State control of children and citizens. This has been "brass neck" behaviour in the face of parental and Federal government opposition. The state government is brazenly defying all but it's own agenda. For those of you home schooling in Scotland (where I had anticipated schooling my children), I believe it is very important to be in unity. Fear can be crippling. There is no denying that the punitive actions faced and to be faced are both fearful and heart wrenching. However, bear in mind that, throughout the bible, the reminder "do not fear" is stated 366 times (one for each day of the year). For some, this is about as much use as a chocolate teapot. But for others it will be a reminder. You are not alone. Your children are a blessing and you have God's call and instruction to bring your children up in the way they should go. Unite in prayer with people who know (not wish, or are not sure) that prayer is powerful and effective. Remind yourself, if you need to, of all the times that God has shown His faithfulness when all appeared hopeless. These times are recorded in the bible and you will also find current testimony worldwide. I realise this is a long post. It is salutary lesson to read situation we face in Victoria and what to guard against. In addition, though, it has brought to attention for people here your individual and joint stories. We will be, and are, praying for you now and in the future. Be of good courage.
Karen - 22-Dec-16 @ 8:27 PM
My daughter is desperate to get home schooled after her incredible persuasive argument I have agreed and I believe it will help her in the short term. I have no idea where to start. I haven't told the school or anybody else I'm really not sure what to do
Qwerty123 - 9-Apr-16 @ 4:58 PM
My story is very similar to the previous comments. My son was then in 1st year, in a large Central Scotlandsecondary school where he was bullied by older pupils that he did not know. The school could not care less. A state of the art new school, covered in CCTV, but they were not operational. He would beg teachers for help, they would say they would, then dissapear never to be seen again. This affected his physical and mental health. I looked into homeschooling and approached my local council. Which was the worst thing I could have done. The head of the education department, colluded with the schools attendance officer, school nurse, they then contacted social work. My home was inspected and found to be fine, and even after explaining everything to the social worker, she still sat nodding in agreement to the bile, misinformation and downright lies coming from the others. My well behaved, courtious and studious boy who has never put a foot wrong in his life, was threatened with being taken into care and placed into a residental schooling environment. All because I refused to have him back at the school until they could guarantee his physical safety. I was homeschooling him in the meantime, but because I had not requested that he be taken out of the system, they came at us with everything they had. The head of education from the council was the worst, complete nonsense from her, painting homeschooling in such a bad light, insinuating that there was something wrong with me for wanting my son at home, safe. Making out that he would become a social recluse, unable to interact with others, despite him having a wide and varied out of school hobby and social life. Eventually I moved over 200 miles away, to a quieter high school. Which was brilliant for my son, but now, 4 years later, I find myself in a similar position with my younger daughter who is now in the last months of primary 7 and despite a school move, is still being badly bullied by pupils and staff at her school. I am again intending on moving, to somewhere more suitable for her after my son has finished his exams in a few months, but in the meantime I will be asking for permission to remove her from this failing system so she can learn in a safe environment. Both occasions with my daughter the perpetrator of the bullying has already been receiving addition support and help due to anti social behaviour, or more the inability to socially fit in and adapt. She has been failed by the schooling system here for the last 3 years. If you are planning on keeping your child at home, while you ask for permission to homeschool you must get a doctors certificate, or they will still hound you as keeping your child from school. It is disgusting, all they care about is having them attend, not their mental or physical health and wellbeing.
Highland Mum of 2 - 22-Feb-16 @ 2:50 AM
Hi, My son goes to High school in scotland and school have already advised that he should be going to a special help school and is being assessed for this, however in the meantime he is being physically and verbally assualted by people in his own class. The school are aware of this and do not seem to be able to stop the bullying. I am considering home school as an option if they are unable to stop the bullying what i want to know is what happens if i keep him home prior to getting permission to home school as i am worried for his safety and the school seem unable to protect him in Class never mind in school grounds.
Unknown - 18-Jan-16 @ 7:51 PM
i am sitting in tears as im at my wits end i have involved social work my local Msp and education authority and basically my local MSP counciler has told me if it goes to a childrens panel hearing i will basically be crucified and my child could be taken in to care , this is all down to him being bullied and now verbally abused on a daily basis and im refusing to send him to school cos he says he would rather die !! All i want to do is protect my child he is in 2nd year at high schoolin scotland no wonder there is a high child suicide rate all i want to do is for him to get a good education and im more than capable to do it! The laws in Scotland are an absolute disgrace i will fight this all the way til the end my gp has put him on a child psychologist waiting list but its an 18 week approx wait. He has went from a fun loving boy to a wreck since all this began i just dont know where to turn now
duraniemama - 11-Jan-16 @ 12:23 AM
Thanks for your help. Any information on homeschooling GCSE's? Thanks again
Homeschooling - 4-Jan-16 @ 4:38 PM
Homeschooling - Your Question:
Hi I am in a mainstream school in England and I am in year 9. My family and I are moving to Scotland soon and I would like to be homeschooled when we get there. My mum said she would do it and I was really happy. However, she then said that we would have to check the laws so we had a look and all we found was this website which is very helpful, However, we are confused as to weather the law is the same as the one on this site or weather it is like England where you can just tell the school you would like to homeschool your child and they can't technically refuse. Therefore, our question is what is the law when moving from a mainstream school in England to being homeschooled in Scotland. Also, if you have any information about IGCSE's that would be appreciated as well as we have never homeschooled before.Thanks for your time and help.

Our Response:
The rules are slgihtly different in Scotland. The Scottish government has put together a pdf guide here, which you might find useful.
AHomeEducation - 4-Jan-16 @ 12:10 PM
Hi i am in a mainstream school in England and I am in year 9. My family and I are moving to Scotland soon and I would like to be homeschooled when we get there. My mum said she would do it and I was really happy. However, she then said that we would have to check the laws so we had a look and all we found was this website which is very helpful, However, we are confused as to weather the law is the same as the one on this site or weather it is like England where you can just tell the school you would like to homeschool your child and they can't technically refuse. Therefore, our question is what is the law when moving from a mainstream school in England to being homeschooled in Scotland. Also, if you have any information about IGCSE's that would be appreciated as well as we have never homeschooled before.Thanks for your time and help.
Homeschooling - 3-Jan-16 @ 3:36 PM
My son is 13 and he is in the base at school but they can't handle his mood swings and keeps getting excluded he asked for help with his anger and is getting a 6 week assessment, but I got told an external panel has decided he should go to residental school but I know he won't cope is there anything I can do? We live in Scotland please any advice would be appreciated
Sadsack - 20-Dec-15 @ 4:33 PM
Hi, we also went through the whole CAHMS thing with our son and got no where, no help at all. He was so distressed that we took him out of school and homeschooled him for a year, we would have gone on longer but he felt ready to go back to a different school by then and the fresh start was what he needed. It's heartbreaking watching them in distress, get him out before he gets any worse would be my advice. X
Deedee - 17-Jun-15 @ 9:37 AM
Hi i just wondered if anyone can advice me, basically i made placement request for my children , my liitle girl got acceptance, my son refusal on grounds it would be detrimental to his education, he is 11 years old and has been asessed for autism which has not been confirmed yet, i appealed and again refused, now it has to go in front of sherrif court but i now have been told i may not get legal aid, i called cahms because at moment my son is so distressed and upset , he feels he is being punished because hes been forced to stay at a school that he is very unhappy at, my little girl also suffering as she just wants him at her new school and they miss each other terribly, unfortunately cahms said they are unable to help, i feel like my childrens feeling and anxieties are being ignored by all , its heartbreaking and i dont know who to turn to , i am also going to find out if i can home educate my son as i cant see him suffer anymore, has anyone experienced anything like this, i would appreciate any feed back as i just feel im fighting a losing battle, but cant give up for my son.
liz - 2-May-15 @ 8:55 PM
@mimi76. There is nothing to prevent you choosing to home school your child, but you should not let this kind of activity force you into it. If the school cannot guarantee that the perpetrator will not act again, then ask your Local Education Authority what your options are. They may be able to transfer your daughter to an alternative school or force the current school to take a firmer approach.
AHomeEducation - 19-Mar-15 @ 10:56 AM
My daughter is 13 in last month she has been physically attacked twice incuring facial injuries. Her attacker is same age and been charged with assault.can I take my daughter out of school to home school her.i spoke to school and they cant garauntee her safety.v v v stressed mum
mimi 76 - 17-Mar-15 @ 5:23 AM
@hhab. No specific qualifications are need to home school and there's lots of information here and on many other websites about home schooling. You should however, try and talk to school about your worries, it may be that they can help to alleviate these and get you to a point where you're enjoying school again.
AHomeEducation - 27-Jan-15 @ 2:14 PM
Hi, I'm feeling stressed in school and it always makes me worry a lot and I hate school and I want to ask my mum or someone to home school me can she without qualifications and how long will it take before she starts if she decides to do it. :) Thanks
hhab - 25-Jan-15 @ 10:27 PM
My 15 yr old daughter is on her last year of school but she struggled very much last year. She hates school and it makes her stressed and ill and in turn wasn't good for my health last year. I find it a massive struggle getting her to go and the thought of another year of this makes me panic. Can I home school her at this late stage in schooling and how hard is it? Thanks
lolly - 8-Jan-15 @ 3:15 PM
@asdfghjkl - the rules in scotland are slightly different to those in England and Wales but generally you do not have to have specific qualifications to home school a child. Here is a useful guide which gives details.
AHomeEducation - 18-Nov-14 @ 10:58 AM
Can my parents home school me without the qualifications also how long is the process?
Asdfghjkl - 17-Nov-14 @ 8:49 PM
My granson keeps being sent home he's not being educated as looking for a school for his needs the school he was at walker rd primary Aberdeen locked him in a room taunting him we've been asked for permission to manhandle him it's just disgusting there's no children will talk or play we him as they have singled him out too much so can I home school him until a school is found
Algie - 18-Apr-14 @ 1:26 PM
Hello, im just wondering if my parents can just go over to the school and have a chat with the head teacher about me being home schooled, or do i have to go threw a massive paperwork thing? :(
nmnm - 29-Jun-12 @ 10:14 PM
Thanks for the informative post i really like this The Law and Home Schooling in Scotland on ur pc will come backsoon to read more...
schooooooooooooooool - 17-Feb-12 @ 11:57 AM
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