England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Education in the UK is the responsibility of parents. The law states that children must be educated “at school or otherwise” (under s7 Education Act 1996). All parents have a duty to ensure that their children receive an efficient, full time education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.
Therefore, the law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland allows parents to educate their children at home instead of sending them to school, if they fulfill certain conditions.
When the decision to educate at home has been taken in the pre-school years it is not necessary to inform the local Education Authority (LEA) that your child will not be attending a state school.
However, when a child is withdrawn from school to be home educated, the school must be notified. The school will then remove the child from their register and inform the LEA. Parents are not legally required to inform their LEA. The exception to this if your child has a Statement of Special Needs (see below).
The LEA will usually contact you to discuss your educational plans as it has a duty to ensure that a child is receiving a suitable education at home, and will usually ask to meet with the family in order to talk to the parent and to look at examples of work and learning. LEAs have no automatic right of access to a parent’s home.
Further details are available on the government website “Educating your child at home“.
Children with Statements of Special Educational Needs (SEN)
Children and young people with statements of special educational needs can be home educated. When a child has a statement of special educational needs which names a special school, the child’s name may not be the removed from the register of that school without the consent of the education authority.
It is important to remember that if you live in Scotland, the law regarding Home Education is very different to that in England and Wales.
In essence you do NOT have to have permission to home educate if your child has never been registered with a local education authority but you DO have to have permission to remove your child from school once they are registered. This permission will not be withheld without reason but you MUST not remove your child before this permission is granted as to do so risks prosecution.
We strongly advise that you read the Scottish goverment home education guidelines.