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Are we Breaking the Law by Home Schooling?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 16 May 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Home School Home Schooling Education

Q.

If we as parents choose to home school are we breaking any law? Can we be made to send our daughter to school? Our daughter has issues with regards to school life.

(Mr C.E, 29 October 2008)

A.

Parents have a legal responsibility to ensure that all children receive an education from the age of 5 to 16. For the vast majority of children, this will inevitably mean going to school. However, ensuring that their children attend school is not the only way that parents can satisfy their legal responsibility in England.

Teaching children at home, or home schooling, is legal and is becoming increasingly popular for a number of reasons. You mention that your daughter has issues with school life, which is one reason why some parents choose to educate their children at home. Other parents may choose to home school for religious or social reasons, or simply because they feel that they are better able to address their child’s needs.

As long as your daughter is receiving an education, you have complied with Your Legal Duty and the authorities should not force you to send your daughter to school. However, it may be advisable to notify your Local Education Authority that you intend to home school your daughter rather than just taking her out of her school. The school should also be notified in writing of your intentions before you remove your daughter. The rules are different for children who attend a special school due to their special educational needs.

There is no requirement for you to follow a particular curriculum or to have any teaching qualifications. It is also up to you whether your daughter goes on to take GCSEs. However, you should bear in mind that if your daughter does not attain any recognised qualifications this could limit the options she has later in her educational or professional career. A parent who educates their child at home must ensure that the child still has a full education and that any special needs the child has are addressed. The education the child receives should be appropriate for their age and abilities.

The Local Education Authority could ask you to prove that you are providing your daughter with an education. You might do this by setting out the methods you use and providing examples of your daughter’s work. Alternatively, you could arrange a meeting, either at your home or elsewhere, with a representative of the Authority. If the Local Education Authority was not satisfied that you were providing your daughter with an appropriate education, they could serve you with a school attendance order forcing you to send your daughter to school.

There are many websites offering advice and materials for parents who decide to educate their children at home, and some Local Education Authorities may supply free study materials based on the National Curriculum.

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Jo - Your Question:
Hi,My 16 year old daughter has been home-educated all her life and will be carrying on with taking further exams at home ('A' levels). She will have tutors but as it's home education, a lot of the learning is self-motivated rather than 12 hours weekly at a college. Will the fact that she will not be studying with a tutor for 12 hours weekly likely cause a problem when it comes to what the government calls 'approved full-time education'. On the Education Otherwise website it states that the government recognises HE, but is this only when they a home-education student sees a tutor amounting to 12 hours weekly?Also, I'm thinking of her taking evening classes and I'm wanting to know, will taking evening classes, alongside her Home Education course, affect child benefit/child tax credits?I would greatly value any help you could give,Thank you,

Our Response:
We think if she's studying for 12 hours per week or more at A level standard or equivalent then you should still be eligible for CHB and CTC but do check with DWP and HMRC to be sure.
LawAndParents - 17-May-17 @ 12:49 PM
Hi, My 16 year old daughter has been home-educated all her life and will be carrying on with taking further exams at home ('A' levels). She will have tutors but as it's home education, a lot of the learning is self-motivated rather than 12 hours weekly at a college. Will the fact that she will not be studying with a tutor for 12 hours weekly likely cause a problem when it comes to what the government calls 'approved full-time education'.On the Education Otherwise website it states that the government recognises HE, but is this only when they a home-education student sees a tutor amounting to 12 hours weekly? Also, I'm thinking of her taking evening classes and I'm wanting to know, will taking evening classes, alongside her Home Education course, affect child benefit/child tax credits? I would greatly value any help you could give, Thank you,
Jo - 16-May-17 @ 2:30 PM
@lisa. While she's still at school studying up to a'level standard, yes he will have to pay until she finishes. As for the university, it depends whether there was any private child maintenance agreement between him and your stepdaughter's mother.
LawAndParents - 18-Dec-14 @ 11:19 AM
My stepdaughter is 18 and still at school she hopes to go onto university, she earns up to £500 a month does my partner still need to pay maintainance
lisa - 17-Dec-14 @ 5:28 PM
my 7yr old son wants to live with me. his mother says she will not let him. can she stop him? i live alone.
magoo - 10-Sep-12 @ 10:18 PM
My 17 year old daughter turns 18 in December. She is living with me and has just acquired a small part time job. She is also studying via Internet a Tafe Business course. She is no longer at school. My ex husband just found out about her job and is now goingbto child support to withdraw maintenance. He pays 1070 a month. Will I lose these last 4 payments before her 18th birthday. She is earning approximately $150 a week if that. Please help me. Cheryl
Cherry - 11-Aug-12 @ 10:32 AM
My children are both British and Canadian. They have been educated in Canada up to this point, but we are considering moving back to the UK. Unfortunately, that means suffering the British school system.... Our older son may enter 6th form, but our younger son will be taking distance-learning courses from Canada, so essentially home-schooled. I wouldn't DREAM of having to cram him into some stupid uniform and be dictated to by the nanny-state if we choose to take a family holiday! English school? No thanks!!!! Distance-learning is actually part of the normal school system in Canada. The courses are available on-line the same as those studied in the classroom, complete with exams and qualifications at the end of it. I suggest that more parents explore their options and look at distance-learning, the nanny-state mentality will drive more kids away from education than it retains.... George Orwell couldn't have scripted it better!
Loathe British Schoo - 3-Jul-12 @ 6:41 AM
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