Every parent of a child of compulsory school age must make sure that they receive an efficient full-time education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude, and to any special educational needs (SEN) they may have. This is a legal duty found in section 7 of the Education Act 1996.

Parents can meet this duty either by sending their child to school or, ‘otherwise’ – which includes a parent educating their own child at home. 

Choosing to educate a child at home is a significant commitment, so it is important to fully explore your options before committing to it.

Some parents choose to home educate because this is how they want their children to be educated. Others home educate because of unmet needs or a breakdown in placement and where this is the case, there are other options available, so it is important to get advice.

Local authorities (LAs) can take legal action against parents who fail to make sure that their children are educated when, for example, children do not attend school regularly (or at all) and when parents make inadequate (or no) arrangements for their education at home.

Although LAs have the power to provide support to parents who are home educating their children, LAs do not have to arrange special educational provision if you choose to home educate. If your LA decides you have made ‘suitable alternative arrangements’ for your daughter’s education then this means it would not be obliged to provide any of the special educational provision set out in her EHC plan.  So if, for example, your daughter’s EHC plan specifies that she should have weekly speech and language therapy, although you can ask that the LA continue to arrange this part of her special educational provision, you cannot insist that it does so. Your decision in respect of home educating needs to be made with this in mind.

The position is different for children who cannot attend school because of illness. In this situation, your LA must provide education.

It is also possible for special educational provision to be provided ‘otherwise than in a setting’ in circumstances where it is deemed inappropriate for the provision to be delivered in a school (section 61 of the Children and Families Act 2014). This is often referred to as ‘education otherwise’ or ‘EOTAS’. If this happened, your LA would be under a legal duty to make sure the provision specified in section F of the EHC plan was provided even though your daughter would be at home. Section I of your daughter’s EHC plan would be blank, and section F would need to detail all the special educational provision she requires. You should get advice about this in advance as her EHC plan would need amending to set out this arrangement.

However, if you still feel that elective home education (rather than education otherwise) is right for your child, you should:

1.    Write to the school and explain that you intend to make arrangements for your daughter’s education at home. 

2.    At the same time you should write to the LA and ask it to amend section I of the EHC plan to remove the name of her current school.

If your daughter currently attends a special school, you will need to write to the LA (not the school) to get their agreement to take her off the school roll. If she is at any other type of school, you do not need the permission of either the school or the LA.

See our section on elective home education and education otherwise for more information.

If your LA refuses to amend the EHC plan

If your LA refuses to amend the EHC plan, you can still educate your daughter at home electively. If your daughter attends a special school and the LA refuses to agree to take her off the school roll, you should book an appointment with us for advice.

LAs have a duty to prosecute parents when the LA believes that parents are failing to make sure that their children are receiving an appropriate education. It is unlikely to happen, but if you are threatened with prosecution you will need legal advice from a criminal solicitor who is familiar with education cases.