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Home education

Parents may choose home education (also known as education otherwise than at school, or elective home education) for different reasons.

A decision to educate otherwise than at school may come from a parental desire to shape their child’s education around spiritual, religious or cultural aspects of the families life.

Some parents may feel that their child’s experience of mainstream school is not beneficial to them.

If a parent, carer, or legal guardian has, or is responsible for, a child of statutory school age, they are required by law to ensure that child receives an education suitable to the child’s age, ability, aptitude and any special educational needs she or he may have whether at school, or otherwise.

Parents can use a range of resources to assist them with the education of their child.

The education provided should:

  • primarily equip a child for life within the community of which she or he is a member as long as it does not foreclose the child’s options in later years to adopt some other form of life if she or he wishes to do so
  • offer opportunities for physical, social, spiritual and cultural development

Parents may use these resources to bring about the most efficient and suitable education provision:

  • funding private tutors
  • using the internet including educational websites
  • visiting libraries, museums and other sites of education with their child
  • getting support from education otherwise groups
  • buying educational books and tests from reputable book shops
  • engaging the child in creative and sporting activities

Home education and the law Toggle accordion

Education is statutory but parents have the legal right to decide how this is provided, including home education (also known as elective home education or education otherwise than at school).

The law says that parents providing education otherwise than at school must:

  • provide full-time education
  • provide education in line with their child’s age, ability, aptitude and any special educational needs
  • provide efficient education
  • allow their child to achieve their full potential
  • prepare their child for life in a modern, civilised society

These terms are often poorly defined, although case law does provide some clarification.

Taking this into account, here is the local authority’s guidance to parents:

Education may be provided by the parent or carer, or by any other person that the parent or carer decides.

These must be taken into consideration:

  • home education may be supplemented or replaced by attendance at a private college or through a privately employed tutor.
    Parents are strongly advised to check external providers are safe and suitably qualified
  • children may attend voluntary groups arranged locally or follow courses over the internet
  • older children may be provided with work experience as part of their education.
    however, there are strict laws governing child employment.
    Parents should comply with the law.

Full-time education means that the child must receive regular education for a substantial part of each day and most of the year, but not necessarily in line with normal school terms.

In practice, most parents do opt to provide education on a daily basis during term time.

A suitable education does not have to cover the National Curriculum.

However, if children do not acquire basic skills of reading, writing, mathematics, ICT and social development they may not be equipped for modern society.

Parents are therefore likely to choose to include these elements as part of their curriculum.

The teaching of basic skills does not have to follow the age-related requirements of the National Curriculum.

However, most parents do decide to teach children basic skills at similar ages to those expected in schools in order for progress to be made in other areas of study.

This would be particularly important if it were intended at any point to reintegrate children into school.

The law says that an efficient education should achieve what it sets out to achieve.

The local authority suggests that parents and carers should be clear what they hope to achieve from the start.

This will allow them to see how well their child is progressing towards their aims.

The council’s role in home education Toggle accordion

The local authority has a statutory duty to make arrangements to enable them to establish (so far as it is possible to do) the identities of children in their area who are of compulsory school age but are:

  • not registered pupils at a school
  • not receiving suitable education.

The way this should be done is not set out in law.

If it comes to our notice that a child is being home educated, we will seek to work in partnership with parents and, where requested, will offer basic advice.

Our elective home education officer will contact you to obtain some basic information about your child and the way you intend to provide suitable education.

After a short time, an education adviser will ask to meet you to see how you are getting on.

The adviser will provide basic advice if asked and will arrange to see you and your child again in three to 12 months time, depending on how well your home education is going.

After each visit the adviser will write a brief report, which will be sent to you for comment.

If the adviser thinks that you have not been providing suitable or efficient education, he or she will say so and will offer advice on how to improve.

If you decide to return your child to school, the elective home education officer will assist you.

For further information please see our elective home education policy:

Elective home education policy - 2020 (PDF, 333 KB)

If you are unhappy with the way that this local authority has operated, in relation to home education, you can Make a complaint about Children’s Services.

If you decide to home educate Toggle accordion

Once you have decided to home educate, there are some things you may need to do:

  • If your child is on roll at a school, you must write to the headteacher to notify him or her of your decision.
    Your child will then lose his or her school place (be removed from the school roll) and the local authority will be informed. However, if you are dissatisfied with your child’s school, we suggest that the best approach is to try to resolve the issues and to put them right.
    Often, a simple conversation with the headteacher or the Chair of Governors can sort things out.
  • If your child is at a Special School, you will need the permission of the school and the local authority to remove him or her from the school in order to begin elective home education.
    Please write to the school in the first instance.
  • If your child is of compulsory school age, but has never been to school, or is currently not on roll at a school, please inform the Education Statutory Services Team.

School and education staff should not encourage parents to consider home education.

Education Statutory Services Team 

Town Hall, 1 Town Square, Barking, London, IG11 7LU

020 8227 2151



Special educational needs and home education Toggle accordion

The education of children with significant needs and disabilities will always be difficult, whether at school or as part of a home education process.

It is important to recognise the difference between care and education.

A school would be expected to ensure that pupils with special needs or disabilities make progress in their learning.

There is the same expectation of parents who choose to home educate.

They are expected to provide an efficient education, one that leads to learning and progress.

Parents already have the obligation to care for their children whilst they are at home.

In the case of children with significant needs, caring as well as educating on a full-time basis may prove very challenging.

However, some parents make a great success of home education in these circumstances.

Others struggle to cope, both emotionally and physically, without any respite from the responsibilities they have taken on.

Before opting to home educate a child with special educational needs or disabilities, you are advised to consider these questions:

  • do you have the expertise fully to address your child’s educational and physical needs?
  • do you have suitable resources to provide the range of care and education required?
  • how will you cope with the increasing demands your child may make as he or she grows older?
  • can you fund the provision your child requires?

Home educating parents accept responsibility for their child’s needs in all respects.

However, the local authority also has some obligations for children who have an education, health and care plan.

If you wish to discuss how this might work, please contact the Education Health Care Team:

Education Health Care Team

020 8227 2400


Children missing from education Toggle accordion

Children of school age are required by law to receive an efficient full-time education that is suitable to their age, ability and aptitude and any special educational needs they may have.

Most children attend school for their education. Some are educated otherwise than at school, also known as Elective Home Education (EHE). However, some children are not receiving any education, which could be for a variety of reasons. A child missing from education could be vulnerable or at risk. Not being educated is likely to have a severe negative impact on a child’s future.

LBBD Children missing from education policy (PDF, 2682 KB)

If you know of or suspect a child of school age is missing from education, please contact us urgently so we can support the family to access an education provision. You may remain anonymous and we will carry out checks prior to contacting the parents or carers.

Children Missing Education Officer

2nd floor, Town Hall, London, IG11 7LU

020 8227 2151


Unregistered schools Toggle accordion

Parents who have children of compulsory school age are required by law to ensure that they receive a suitable education, either at school or otherwise. Most parents will enrol their child at a school. There are several different types of school and an explanation of different types of schools is on the GOV.UK website.

All schools are required to be registered with the Department for Education (DfE).

If you are thinking of enrolling a child at a school, our school admissions pages have  information on how to enrol your child.

If you are uncertain about a school’s status, the DfE website has information on all schools registered with them:

If you are thinking of starting an independent school, then please visit the DfE website for advice on how to register.

Registering and regulating independent schools

The Department for Education has published updated registration details for independent schools to reflect the latest policy position.

The department has also published updated information about how it regulates and intervenes in independent schools, and details of when legal action may be taken against unregistered schools

Please note that it is illegal to operate an unregistered school.

If you are concerned that a school or education provision may not be registered, it is important that you report this to us:

020 8227 2151