Educating at Home

Frequently Asked Questions for this Service

Question: At what age is it compulsory for children to receive full-time education?

Answer: 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.

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Question: Do I need anyone’s permission to educate my child at home?

Answer: No, but once you have made the decision to home educate you will need to follow one of the steps below, depending upon your child’s circumstances:

• If your child is registered at a school, please inform the head teacher in writing of your request to remove your child from the school roll;

• If your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan and is registered at a mainstream school, please inform in writing the head teacher of your decision and contact the Isle of Wight Local Authority SEN Team to ensure appropriate procedures are followed and suitable advice is given;

• If your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan and is on roll at a special school, their name will remain on the register of that special school until the SEN Team are satisfied that the educational provision you have made for your child meets their special educational needs, whereupon your child’s Education, Health and Care Plan will be adjusted accordingly;

• If your child is not on roll at a school, you are under no specific duty to inform the Isle of Wight Local Authority of your decision to home educate. However, we do recommend that you inform the Lead Officer for EHE: via The Local Authority has a specific responsibility to identify children missing education so it is also very helpful for parents to inform the Local Authority of children who are being home educated who have never been registered at a school, as we will not then deem them as ‘missing education’.

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Question: What is the role of the Isle of Wight Local Authority in Elective Home Education?

Answer: 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 (see section 3.0 above).

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Question: Can my child still take GCSEs and other examinations?

Answer: Yes - It is possible for home educated young people to take examinations, as external candidates. As the parent/carer, you will have to pay for any examination registration fees, examination centre fees and any special arrangements needed.

Please contact the Lead Officer for EHE for advice as to how to apply as an external candidate. Parents should be aware that external candidates cannot always sit the same exams as a pupil in school as there can be no coursework or spoken assessments. If you remove your child from school in Key Stage 4, they may have to change some of the exams they sit (from GCSEs to International GCSEs).

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Question: Can I use private tutors or send my child to an out of school setting to supplement my child’s education?

Answer: Yes, you can but the Isle of Wight Local Authority urges you to consider the importance of ensuring your child is effectively safeguarded. The current guidance document, ‘Elective Home Education – Guidance for Local Authorities, states:

“Parents may choose to employ other people to educate their child, though they themselves will continue to be responsible for the education provided. They will also be responsible for ensuring that those whom they engage are suitable to have access to children. Parents will therefore wish to satisfy themselves by taking up appropriate references such as an appropriate Disclosure and Baring Service (DBS) check and local authorities should encourage them to do this”.
See DBS:

Similarly, if you wish to use another setting, you should check that it meets all acceptable health and safety standards and that it is officially registered with the Department for Education if it meets the requirement to register as an Independent school - i.e. if it is giving full-time education to 5 or more students of statutory school age, or to 1 pupil with an Education Health and Care Plan, or to 1 pupil who is Looked After (in the care of the local authority).

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Question: What do I do if I want my child to return to school?

Answer: Parents have the right to apply for a school place for their child at any time. However, there is no automatic right to return to a school previously attended by a child. Places offered will be dependent on where there are vacancies and normal application and appeal procedures apply. For more information, contact the Schools Admissions Team on 01983 823455

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Question: Are there organisations or groups of other home educators who may be able to offer advice and support?

Answer: There are many organisations, groups and websites which provide information and support for home educating families which can be easily accessed through a search on the internet, Facebook or through the linked pages of some of the groups below. Whilst these organisations, groups and websites may provide helpful advice, guidance and support relevant to home education, their inclusion in this document does not imply an endorsement of them by the Isle of Wight Local Authority. The views expressed within external websites are those of the site’s owners and, unless specifically stated, are not those of the Local Authority:

• The Isle of Wight Learning Zone – an Island-based support group for home educating families:

• Education Otherwise:

• Home Education Advisory Service:

• Ed Yourself:

• Home education in the UK – SEN:

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Question: Do I need to follow the National Curriculum or a formal timetable?

Answer: 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.

You may wish to also consider how the education you provide will help your child to develop their:

• Communication skills;
• Observation and awareness skills;
• Problem solving and thinking skills;
• Creative and imaginative skills;
• Literacy and numeracy skills;
• Physical, personal and social skills.

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Question: How will the Local Authority decide if the education I am providing is suitable?

Answer: If you withdraw your child from an Isle of Wight school in order to educate them at home, the Lead Officer for EHE will contact you and offer to meet with you. 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.

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;
• 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

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Question: If my child is not at school, how can I ensure that they are fully protected against diseases and receive regular immunisations?

Answer: The School Nurse Team receives children’s health records from Health Visitors so that they can continue to perform health checks and offer support to children and their families throughout the compulsory school years.

School Nurses act as a link between you and other people and can make health services easier to reach. You can ask to see your School Nurse for lots of different reasons:
• Health checks including hearing/vision screening and height/weight checks;
• Referrals to specialists;
• Multi-agency working;
• One-to-one support;
• Drop-in clinics.
There is a dedicated School Nurse who supports families whose children are home educated and can meet with a child/parents at home, rather than at school: Tel 01983 821388.

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Question: What information can I provide to demonstrate a suitable education?

Answer: Suggested below are some examples of the sort of information you may be able provide to demonstrate that your child is receiving a suitable education. These are not exhaustive and may not be relevant to the style of home education you choose to adopt, and you may wish to provide other information that demonstrates a suitable education:

How your child spends their day, for example:
• The number of hours a day/week you are available to help your child;
• The resources you are using;
• Any tutors used, or classes your child attends;
• The sorts of activities your child will be / has been engaged in;
• Social activity with other children.
• How do you know that your child is making progress and your methods and resources are achieving your aims?

During any follow up meetings or discussions, there will be the opportunity to discuss the education you have been providing for your child and the progress being made.

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Question: What if my child has an Education, Health and Care Plan?

Answer: All parents, including the parents of children with special educational needs, have an equal right to educate their child at home. However, if a child has an Education, Health and Care Plan, the Isle of Wight Local Authority continues to have a duty to ensure that the child’s special educational needs are met.

The Isle of Wight Local Authority will work in partnership with parents to ensure that suitable arrangements are available to meet the child’s special educational needs. However, parents should be aware that they have a duty to provide their child with an efficient, full-time education suitable to the age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs the child may have, in line with section 7 of the Education Act 1996, whilst the Local Authority has a duty to:

• Maintain the child’s EHCP;

• Review the EHCP annually; and

• Decide whether its contents are appropriate or whether the EHCP should remain in force.

At the annual review of a child’s Education, Health and Care Plan, the SEN Department, on behalf of the Local Authority, will consider the child’s progress and whether any changes are needed to the EHCP. Parents are always invited to attend the annual review meeting to ensure that the Local Authority can develop as full a picture as possible of the child’s progress and to help identify any changes that may be needed.

In cases where the Education Health and Care Plan gives the name of a school or type of school where the young person will be educated and the parents decide to educate at home, the local authority is relieved of its duty to make the special educational provision set out in the plan provided it is satisfied that the arrangements made by the parents are suitable. The EHCP will be amended to set out the type of special educational provision that the authority thinks the young person requires but will state in a suitable place that parents have made their own arrangements under s.7 of the Education Act 1996.

In cases where the local authority and parents agree that home education is the right provision for the young person with an Education Health and Care Plan, the EHCP should make clear that the young person will be educated at home. If it does then the local authority, under section 42(2) of the Children and Families Act 2014, must arrange and fund the special educational provision set out in the EHCP, working with the parents. In these circumstances, the child will be known as Educated Other Than at School (EOTAS) rather than Electively Home Educated (EHE). The local authority will only agree to EOTAS if they believe there is no mainstream or specialist provision available which could meet the needs of the young person.

Further information about Elective Home Education for children with an EHCP is available in the DfE Guidance for LA and the SEN Code of Practice, which has a chapter on home education.

In addition, a parent who is educating a child at home may ask the Local Authority to carry out a statutory assessment or reassessment of their child’s special educational needs and the Local Authority must consider the request within the same timescales as the requests that it receives from a school or any other parent.

Please contact the LA’s Special Educational Needs Team: Email:

The IOW Local Offer is a source of local information, help, support and advice regarding SEND for parents, carers, children and young people:

SENDIASS (Special Educational Needs and Disability, Information, Advice and Support Service) provides advice and guidance for parents and carers whose children have special educational needs: Tel: 01983 825548

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