Your Legal Responsibilities When Educating Your Child At Home
Many parents choose to take their children out of the traditional education environment and educate them at home.
According to the Home Office, there are 81,200 homeschooled children in the UK – and there are many benefits to this kind of education.
If you’re thinking about doing the same, you should know that it’s your right to choose how your child receives schooling.
However, there are laws in the UK which every parent should know before deciding to teach their child at home.
Read on to find out what you need to know to provide the best possible education for your child, ensuring they don’t miss out on the opportunities traditional schooling affords.
Can Parents Take Their Child Out Of School?
Parents can take their child out of school without permission, but you will need to let the school know what you’re doing.
They’ll then notify the local authority that your child’s name is no longer registered at the school, as education is a legal requirement for all school-age people in the UK.
However, if you live in Northern Ireland or Scotland, you will need to ask for permission – but it’s usually easy to take your child out of school.
Officially Taking Your Child Out Of School
By UK law, everyone between the ages of five and 16 must attend a school or receive an education at home. After turning 16, children can choose to go to college, do an apprenticeship, or go into employment.
When you decide to take your child out of school, you’ll need to write to the headteacher and let them know. If your child hasn’t yet started school but has a place, you’ll still have to formally remove them from the register through your local authority.
In England and Wales, the headteacher cannot refuse your request – unless you want to enter into a flexible schooling agreement.
Flexi-schooling is where a child spends some time learning at home and the rest in a classroom environment.
While some schools will allow parents to choose this route, headteachers are under no obligation to accept your child for Flexi-schooling.
How Does Homeschooling Work?
When it comes to homeschooling, both parents on a child’s birth certificate have the right to take their child out of school.
If one parent disagrees, the issue can be resolved in court, but it’s always best for both parents to talk about the pros and cons of homeschooling before one makes a decision.
The National Curriculum
All schools in the UK follow the National Curriculum, but many parents wonder if they have to do the same when taking their child out of the classroom.
There’s no legal obligation to follow the curriculum as a school would, but the Education Act also protects homeschooled children.
According to the act, every child has a right to receive a full-time education that prepares them for life within the community.
This means that all children should understand the core subjects and be able to pursue further education and any career they want.
Teaching Your Child
There are plenty of teaching resources for parents, and local authorities often recommend that parents attend a homeschooling support group to understand how to provide an education for their child.
Some parents follow the curriculum, while others might incorporate practical learning and let their children lead the way through exploring their interests.
It’s also a good idea to look at home tutoring services for certain subjects because your child might need extra support.
A specialist tutor can identify the areas your child struggles with and give them a bespoke learning experience so they don’t miss out on the core curriculum.
It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to stick to the schooling calendar, so as long as your child gets the same teaching hours, you can split them up how you choose.
Providing Evidence Of Your Child’s Learning
While there’s no obligation to provide evidence of your child’s learning, looking at all the support available to ensure you provide the best possible educational experience can be beneficial.
The local authorities might want to meet with you or ask about your education philosophy – a letter of your intent to educate at home and why you think it will be beneficial.
You can also gather samples of your lessons and notify the local authority of your intent to find a home tutor to support your child.
Some parents take their child for an assessment at the end of each academic year to ensure they’re keeping up with their peers.
None of this is necessary, but it can be helpful to use the available resources – especially if you want your child to return to the classroom in the future.
Inspections & Reviews
The local authority might want to inspect your homeschooling setup – but this is extremely rare. Most check in with parents yearly to see if they need extra support or ask if their education philosophy has changed.
However, the local authorities can intervene if there are concerns that your child isn’t receiving an adequate education.
Is There Any Financial Support?
When a parent decides to educate their child at home, they take full responsibility for the child’s development, and there’s usually no financial support.
Parents won’t receive grants and will also need to pay for exam entry, so you should always consider the financial commitment you make when homeschooling.
In some cases, the local library might increase a parent’s borrowing rights, and you can see if schools in the area will give you access to learning materials.
The Bottom Line
There are many things to consider when deciding whether to educate your child at home, but for many parents, it’s the right decision.
Some children have special educational needs, and giving them one-to-one support can help a child grow in confidence and achieve more learning goals.
If you need some support along the way, Fleet Tutors offers a range of tutoring services, including in-house and online tutoring, so your child can get the best possible learning opportunities.
Please feel free to contact our friendly team for more information.