For some children or young people, school or college may not be suitable, and they may need to be educated at home or elsewhere. 

Parents can choose to home educate their child. If this is what is right for them and their child then this can be a positive step. SEN and Disability Code of Practice (the “Code”) acknowledges this, stating at paragraph 10.35 that, “Local authorities should not assume that because the provision being made by parents is different from that which was being made […] in school that the provision is necessarily unsuitable. Local authorities should also consider using their power to help parents make suitable provision.

However, in some cases, parents may be encouraged to make arrangements to educate their child at home by the school or the LA when the parent themselves does not think this is what the child needs. Parents often feel pressured into home education to avoid prosecution for non-attendance. However, elective home education is a serious step.

 

Children or young people with EHC plans

If the child has an EHC plan, choosing to electively home educate means that the LA no longer has a legal duty to secure any special educational provision which was specified in the child’s EHC plan, because the parents are deemed to be making their own suitable alternative arrangements.

If the current educational placement is not working, it may be better to amend the EHC plan to set out different special educational provision and/or name a different school rather than attempting to take on home education without support.

If school or college is not appropriate for the child or young person, the LA can arrange for any special educational provision which the child or young person requires to be delivered somewhere other than in a school, college or early years setting. This is often known as ‘education otherwise than at school’. The LA would then be responsible for continuing to secure and fund that provision.

For a child or young person with an EHC plan, it would generally be preferable to have an EHC plan specifying ‘education otherwise than at school’, as this means the LA must ensure the special educational provision is delivered (this is permitted under section 61 of the Children and Families Act 2014). This could include therapies which are classed as educational provision, such as speech and language therapy. (For more information on how special educational provision should be set out in an EHC plan, see the section on what an EHC plan contains.)

However, if you still feel that home education (rather than education otherwise) is the right course, the first step is to write to the school and explain that you intend to make arrangements for your child’s education at home.  At the same time you should write to the LA and ask it to amend Section I of the EHC plan in order to record that the child is being educated at home.

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

The Code states that where parents decide to educate at home, the local authority is not under a duty to make the special educational provision set out in the EHC plan, but it must still review the plan annually to assure itself that the provision set out in it continues to be appropriate and that the child’s SEN continue to be met (paragraph 10.32).

Children or young people without EHC plans

As above, parents are entitled to take their child out of school in order to home educate, and they do not need the permission of the school or the LA to do so.

If a child or young person with SEN but without an EHC plan is home educated, the LA does not have any duties to provide special educational provision. The Code states that LAs should fund the SEN needs of home-educated children where it is appropriate to do so (paragraph 10.30).

If such a child or young person is in a situation where their school or college placement is in danger of breakdown, it may be worth asking the LA for an EHC needs assessment. This is an opportunity to fully identify all of the child or young person’s needs and work out what support they need to access education. It may be that, with the right support, the child or young person can continue in their educational placement. Alternatively, they may require special educational provision which could be provided other than at school.

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