Guide for parents

Answers to your questions on home educating

This page explains your parental responsibility and Isle of Wight Local Authority procedures regarding Elective Home Education (EHE).

You will find advice to parents or carers who are providing, or who are considering, elective home education on this page and on the Deciding to home educate page. 

The EHE Team are here to support families. We seek to be as respectful, timely and non-intrusive as possible.

How do I contact the EHE Team?

Please email or telephone 01983 823151

What parents and carers need to think about

In England, education is compulsory, but attending school is not. As a parent you have a legal duty to ensure that your child receives efficient full-time education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude, and to any special educational needs they may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

An "efficient" and "suitable" education is not defined in the Education Act 1996 but "efficient" has been broadly described in case law as an education that "achieves that which it sets out to achieve", and a "suitable" education as one that "primarily equips a child for life within the community of which he is a member, rather than the way of life in the country as a whole, as long as it does not foreclose the child's options in later years to adopt some other form of life if he wishes to do so".

Children must receive full-time education from the start of what would be the school term following their fifth birthday. Compulsory education continues until the last Friday in June of Year 11 (any child who is sixteen years of age between September and 31 August is of compulsory school age until the last Friday of June in that year). Recent legislation means that since 2013, all young people in England are required to stay in some form of education or training until their 18th birthday. This can include home education if a young person was home educated when they left compulsory education.

No, but once you have made the decision to home educate you will need to follow certain steps, depending upon your child’s circumstances. Please read the 'Deciding to home educate' page for more information.

The role of the Local Authority

The Local Authority has no formal powers or duty to monitor the provision of education at home. However, it does have a statutory duty (under s.436A of the Education Act 1996) to establish the identities, so far as it is possible to do so, of children in its area who are not receiving a suitable education. The simple fact that a child is being educated at home does not mean that he or she is not receiving a suitable full-time education, however, to fulfil the section 436A duty, the Local Authority is entitled to make informal enquiries of parents to establish what education is being provided. As parents, you are under no legal obligation to respond, but if you do not, the Local Authority is entitled to conclude from the absence of any response that it appears that your child is not receiving a suitable education, with all the consequences which can follow from that.

If you withdraw your child from an Isle of Wight school to educate them at home, a member of the EHE Team will contact you and offer a meeting. The purpose of this initial meeting is to discuss the education you are providing, or intend to provide, for your child, to offer any advice required and to answer any questions you may have. The Local Authority acknowledges that for many parents, the time they start home educating can be a stressful period, especially if their child has had a negative experience at school. In the early stages of home education, plans may not be detailed but this does not mean that there can be any significant break between the end of schooling and the provision of good education at home.

What type of educational activity will I need to provide?

The type of educational activity provided through home education can be varied and flexible, but parents should ensure:

  • that significant carers are consistently involved
  • the child’s needs, talents and aspirations are recognised and supported
  • there are opportunities for the child to be stimulated by their learning experiences
  • there are opportunities for appropriate interaction with other children and adults
  • there is access to a suitable environment for learning, resources and materials such as paper and pens, books and libraries, arts and crafts materials, physical activity and ICT

The Local Authority will expect to see learning and development taking place from the beginning of any period of home education.

What are the expectations of a suitable education?

Expectations of a suitable education are:

  • that the home education provided is age-appropriate, enables the child to make progress according to their level of ability, and has taken account of any specific aptitudes or special educational needs or disabilities
  • if your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), the home education provided should be appropriate for their special educational needs or disabilities. However, this does not mean that you must provide everything previously provided by the school. Currently, on the Isle of Wight, your child may still be able to access physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy as part their EHCP
  • even if there is no specific link with the National Curriculum, there should be an appropriate minimum standard which is aimed at, and the education should aim at enabling the child, when grown-up, to function as an independent citizen in the UK
  • parents should be able to demonstrate the amount of time for which a child is being educated and education which is not occupying a significant proportion of a child’s life will probably not meet the s.7 requirement 
  • parents should be able to demonstrate the progress and development made by their child. The Local Authority may use minimum expectations for literacy and numeracy in assessing suitability, whilst bearing in mind the age, ability and aptitude of the child and any special educational needs or disabilities he or she may have

Education may be considered unsuitable:

  • if it is delivered in circumstances which make it very difficult to work (for example in very noisy premises)
  • if it leads to excessive isolation from the child’s peers, and thus impedes social development

How will home education be assessed?

The assessment of home education will vary depending upon the style of education you are providing, but should include:

  • your plan or philosophy for your child’s education
  • resources
  • how you will assess your child’s progress
  • how you intend to integrate the fundamental core subjects of English (literacy), mathematics and science into your arrangement.
  • any arrangements for public examinations where appropriate.
  • how you will meet any special educational needs or disabilities your child may have

A record of all meetings/reviews will be completed, and feedback provided to you.

This will include one of three outcomes:

  • Suitable: the EHE Team will maintain contact with you to provide advice and support via annual contact (annual contact may be via request to submit a report on the education the child has/is receiving or by a meeting at home or other agreed venue).
  • Not Yet Suitable: where the provision is judged to be developing and EHE Team member working with a family believes there is capacity to improve the education the child is receiving, they will discuss their concerns and advise on steps needed to improve things. Re-assessment will be undertaken after 6 weeks to ensure the education is suitable.
  • Unsuitable: if a child’s education remains unsuitable, the EHE Team Leader will recommend that an application for a school place is made and if this does not happen, the Local Authority may issue a School Attendance Order.

There is no acknowledged ‘correct way’ to provide an education at home and as a home educator you can educate in the way you think is most appropriate. However, you must ensure your child is receiving a full-time education suitable to their needs. You are not required to follow the National Curriculum nor does your child have to sit examinations. When deciding how much time to devote to your child’s education you may find it useful to note that whilst there is no legal definition of ‘full time’ the DfE recommends that a normal school day provides 5 hours education a day spread over 190 days a year.

Information, policies, and guidance on home education for parents

Education Act 1996

Article 2 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights states that:

“No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.”