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Home education in England

This briefing provides information on home education in England, and outlines current and past proposals for reform. It also notes issues raised with regards to home education and briefly summarises the relevant sections of selected reports. Education is a devolved issue; the briefing covers the position in England only.

Current position

Parents have the right to decide to teach their children at home at any stage up to the end of compulsory school age. This right applies equally for the parents of children with special educational needs (SEN). Home education may also be used to meet the requirement to participate in education or training up to the age of 18.

Parents who choose to home-educate their children are responsible for ensuring that the education provided is efficient, full-time and suitable to the child’s age, ability, aptitude and any SEN they may have. They are not required to provide a broad and balanced curriculum and do not have to follow the National Curriculum. The parents of home educated children must be prepared to assume full financial responsibility, including bearing the cost of any public examinations. Government guidance encourages authorities to take a flexible approach to providing financial support to the parents of home educated children with SEN, however, and the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice states that authorities should fund the SEN needs of home educated children where it is appropriate to do so.

Local authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis. However, they do have duties to make arrangements to identify children not receiving a suitable education, and to intervene if it appears that they are not. Intervention could, for example, take the form of issuing a school attendance order, although Government guidance on home education encourages authorities to address the issue informally before serving such a notice. As part of their safeguarding duties local authorities have powers to insist on seeing a child to enquire about their welfare where there are grounds for concern, but this does not extend to seeing and questioning children for the purpose of establishing whether they are receiving a suitable education.