Elective home education
Elective Home Education (EHE) is the term used by the Department for Education (DfE) to describe parents' decisions to provide education for their children at home instead of sending them to school.
If you are considering educating your child at home as opposed to in a school, the following questions and answers will give you more information and help you in making your decision. They also outline the way in which Nottinghamshire Local Authority (LA) carries out its duties under the 1996 Education Act. The term "parent" is used throughout this information to refer to all those with parental responsibility, including guardians and carers.
Appropriate Full-Time Education
The 1996 Education Act states that “it is the duty of parents to secure an appropriate full-time education for their children of compulsory school age”. Most parents carry out this duty by ensuring their child attends the school which serves their local community. However, for a wide variety of reasons, some parents decide to take on the duty to educate their children themselves, that is, to educate at home.
Under section 7 of the 1996 Act, the parents of every child of compulsory school age: "shall cause the child to receive efficient full-time education suitable to his/her age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he/she may have either by regular attendance at school or otherwise". ("Or otherwise" includes EHE.)
Compulsory School Age
The law requires a child to be educated from the start of the school term following their fifth birthday until the last Friday in June in the school year in which a child reaches sixteen. If you decide to educate your child at home, whilst your child is attending a state school, you should inform the head teacher of the school at which your child is registered, in writing, that you are home educating and he/she will inform the local authority. If your child has never been to school, we encourage you to register with the LA’s Elective Home Education Service, by contacting the home education administrator on tel: 0115 9772573.
In addition, from September 2013, young people will be required to continue in education or training until the end of the academic year in which they turn 17 and until their 18th birthday from summer 2015.
Young people will need to continue to study or train in one of several ways:
Study full-time in a school, college or with a training provider
Full-time work or volunteering combined with part-time education or training
An Apprenticeship (www.apprenticeships.org.uk)
You may of course decide to continue to home educate if your child was educated at home up to the age of 16 or indeed to begin home education at this stage. For young people who are being home educated, no hourly requirement of home education applies: the amount and content of that education is at the discretion of the home educator. In this instance, we encourage you to register with the LA’s Elective Home Education Service, by contacting the home education administrator on tel: 0115 9772573, so that we can provide information, advice and guidance to support you in your choice and fulfil our statutory responsibilities with regard to home education.
Local Authority Responsibility
Under the Education Act 1996, local authorities shall intervene if it appears that parents are not providing a suitable education. Case law has described a suitable education as that which "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". Whilst the local authority has no statutory duty to monitor the quality of home education on a routine basis, Nottinghamshire Local Authority (LA) aims to work in partnership with parents in order to enable the local authority to establish if home education is suitable. To achieve this goal, the LA employs a team of EHE Advisers, who provide advice to parents and work in partnership with them each year to gather information on the suitability of the child’s education.
Once a parent has decided to home educate and the local authority has been notified in writing, the local authority elective home education administrator will contact the parent to arrange for an elective home education adviser to visit the home of the parent. If the parent prefers a neutral venue will be agreed. Nottinghamshire local authority seeks to work in partnership with parents and would prefer to meet with parent and child. In rare cases, the parent may choose to meet the local authority adviser by themselves or not at all. If parents exercise their right not to meet with a local authority adviser they can then provide information through samples of work, diaries, reports from parents or independent tutors or a description of their educational philosophy or in some other appropriate form. Although parents are under no duty to respond to such enquiries, legislation indicates that ‘it would be sensible for them to do so’.
When a child is educated at home it is the decision of the parent as to what and how the child learns. DfE guidance on elective home education suggests that local authorities may reasonably expect the provision made by parents to include the following characteristics:
- Consistent involvement of parents or other significant carers
- Recognition of the child’s needs, attitudes and aspirations
- Opportunities for the child to be stimulated by their learning experiences
- Access to resources/materials required to provide home education such as paper and pens, books and libraries, arts and craft materials, physical activity, ICT and the opportunity for appropriate interaction with other children and other adults
Nottinghamshire LA considers that there are some elements without which it would be difficult to say that a child was suitably educated for life in a wider society, for example:
- Key skills including numeracy; literacy; ICT; problem solving
- Personal, social and health education including physical education
- Citizenship and environmental education
- Life skills; practical and interpersonal
- Creativity and expressive arts
There is no requirement to follow the National Curriculum, which applies only to maintained schools. However, you may wish to be aware of the content of the National Curriculum as it does provide a useful framework, especially if you intend to return your child to state education or to pursue more formal qualifications, such as GCSEs.
The National Curriculum subjects are English, mathematics, science (known as the 'core' subjects), ICT, history, geography, technology, art, music, citizenship, physical education and a modern foreign language.
Further information on the national curriculum is available on the DfE website at:www.education.gov.uk
Education may be provided by a combination of the parents, small groups of home-educating families, or private tutors or by any other means deemed suitable by the parent. Irrespective of how the child's education is arranged it will be up to the parent to demonstrate to the local authority that a suitable education is being provided. Some home educators have a timetable showing the normal planned activities over a period of time such as you would find in a school. Other parents choose to follow a form of 'discovery' education where the interests of the child are followed. Yet others use a mixture of these methods. The local authority's interest is in establishing that a suitable education is taking place, rather than endorsing any particular method.
Local Authority Involvement
If required, the local authority elective home education adviser will work in partnership with parents and will offer help and advice to home educating families. However, the local authority is unable to offer direct teaching or to provide materials for children being educated at home. You will also be responsible for any work experience placement, should you wish to organise one. Similarly, you would have to pay for any examination registration fees and assessment of coursework by an accredited person. No visit to discuss and advise on the education you are providing will take place unless an appointment has been made in advance and you are agreeable to the visit. Meeting the elective home education adviser will allow you to discuss the style of education being followed and to talk about the type of information that can assist the local authority in coming to a judgement about the suitability of your child's education. The local authority advisers will also be able to signpost you to useful websites and to opportunities for engaging in further education from 14 to 19.
Local Authority Concerns or Reservations
After each visit, or on receipt of appropriate information, a report will normally be sent to you within ten working days. The report will include a description of the provision along with any recommendations of how to support the education of your child. If the local authority is not satisfied that a suitable education is taking place, then further visits and/or information may be requested with the aim of helping you to overcome the difficulties within a mutually agreed timescale.
If, however, the local authority still considers that your child is receiving an unsuitable education then it is our duty to serve a notice. The local authority would prefer to address the situation informally in the first instance. At this stage parents are encouraged to provide information in any of the forms mentioned above. Parents are under no duty to respond to such enquiries, but it would be sensible for them to do so.
If the problem has still not been resolved the local authority will issue a school attendance order following the involvement of the Targeted Support Service. This will require you to send your child to a school named on the order (Section 437, Education Act 1996). Please note that at any stage following the issue of a school attendance order you may present evidence to the local authority that you are now providing a suitable education and apply to have the order revoked.
Re-entering the School System
Should you wish at any time for your child to enter or re-enter the school system (or are unsure about how to do this) you may either contact the school admissions team at Meadow House on tel: 01623 433499, or the local authority elective home education administrator on tel:0115 9772573.
In Nottinghamshire, children generally attend school full-time, except if there is a planned programme of re-integration. 'Flexi-schooling' or ‘flexible school attendance’ is an arrangement between the parent and the school where the child is registered at school and attends the school only part-time; the rest of the time the child is home educated (on authorised absence from school). This can be a long-term arrangement or a short-term measure for a particular reason. 'Flexi-schooling' is a legal option provided that the head teacher at the school concerned agrees to the arrangement. The child will be required to follow the National Curriculum/school curriculum whilst at school but not whilst they are being educated at home.
If you decide to move, please notify the local authority elective home education administrator on 0115 9772573.
Special Educational Needs
If you are concerned that your child has Special Educational Needs (which are described in the Education Act 1993 as "learning difficulties that may require special educational provision") then please notify the EHE Administrator on tel: 01623 434141. Please note that if your child attends a special school the consent of the LA should be sought before removing your child from school to home educate.
Deciding to educate your child at home is a major step that involves commitment and a tremendous investment of time and energy. There are a wide variety of reasons for parents choosing to home educate, but if it is due to an unresolved dispute with a school, the local authority strongly suggests a dialogue first with the school to attempt to resolve any dispute. It is also well worth talking to someone who has experience of the highs and lows of home education before finally making the decision. There are several support agencies in England to help home educators. Some of these groups also have local support networks. Two of the best known groups are the Home Education Advisory Service (HEAS) and Education Otherwise.
For further information about elective home education, please contact the council tel: 0300 500 80 80.