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Home schooling (elective home education)

We support the rights of parents to educate their child at home.

Where children are educated at home, we work in partnership with parents to ensure the child receives a suitable education that considers their age, ability, aptitude and any special educational needs they may have.

You should inform the head teacher of your child's school in writing. The school is then required to inform us.

If your child is not on a school roll (e.g. if they have never attended school or have just moved into West Northamptonshire), please contact us by emailing [email protected].

There is no requirement for parents to follow the national curriculum or to have premises equipped to any particular standard.

However, you must inform us how you plan to educate your child.

Complete an elective home education plan

Please look at the guidance notes below and then complete the Home Education Plan form within 4 weeks of commencing home education. Please use the same form if you wish to submit your yearly review.

1. Introduction

There are many questions that families should ask when they are considering home education. These guidance notes should help families come to an informed decision as to whether to home-educate and support those families who have already made that decision. The information contained in this guidance reflects Northamptonshire’s policy in relation to Elective Home Education.

West Northamptonshire Council recognises and respects parents’ right to educate their children through elective home education and neither dissuades nor encourages parents in making a choice in this regard.

If having read this guidance, you still have any queries; please do not hesitate to contact the School Attendance Support Service. An officer will get back to you to help.

The decision to educate outside the school environment is significant for parents and carers and by opting for Elective Home Education they must also accept responsibility for ensuring their child or children receive efficient, full-time education as described below.

The role of the School Attendance Support Service is to champion the right of all children to receive efficient and suitable education.

2. The Law

2.1 Do children have to go to school

The Education Act 1996 states that it is the duty of parents to secure an appropriate education for their children. This can be done either by regular attendance at school or “otherwise”. For most children, this means that they will attend the school which serves their local community but for a wide variety of reasons, a minority of parents decide to take on the “duty to educate” their children themselves.

2.2 A parent’s Statutory Duty

Under section 7 of the 1996 Act, it is the parent’s duty:

“to cause (the child) to receive efficient full-time education suitable to his (or her) age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he (or she) may have either by regular attendance at school or “otherwise.”

2.3 “Efficient” and “Suitable” Education

These words are not defined in the Act. Education, however, has been deemed to be “efficient” if it achieves what it sets out to achieve and “suitable” if it prepares the child for life in our society and also enables the child to achieve his or her full potential. Certainly what is provided does not need to be the same kind of “lessons” as are provided at school.

It is up to the parent to show the Local Authority that the Home Education Plan is helping the child to learn and that the child is developing according to his or her age, ability and aptitude and any special educational needs he or she may have.

3. The Curriculum

3.1 What constitutes a curriculum

Whether provided in school or at home, the curriculum consists of everything which is done to educate the child. It should cater for the child’s physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual development. For pupils attending school, the curriculum should be broad, balanced, relevant and differentiated. In other words:

  • broad - It should introduce the pupils to a wide range of knowledge, understanding and skills
  • balanced - each part should be allotted sufficient time to make its own special contribution but not so much that it squeezes out other essential parts of the learning
  • relevant - subjects should be taught to bring out their application to the pupil’s own experience and to adult life and to give due emphasis to practical aspects
  • differentiated - What is taught and how it is taught needs to be matched to the pupil’s abilities and aptitude. It should also be sufficiently challenging so that a child can show that progress is being made. A good curriculum includes literacy, numeracy, information technology and science along with other elements dealt with at an appropriate level. Ideally include personal and social education, health education (including mental wellbeing), outdoor and environmental education, economics and industrial understanding, citizenship and career education. If you choose to educate your child or children at home, you must consider the curriculum in planning your Home Education Plan for your child

3.2 Does the National Curriculum apply to Elective Home Education

The National Curriculum does not apply to children educated at home but you may wish your child to enter or re-enter mainstream education at some point in the future. Re-integration is easier if you take the requirements of the National Curriculum into account when planning your Planned Programme of Education.

What you teach and how your child learns is up to you, provided that you can describe how the education is “efficient” and “suitable”.

There is no one form of education; children learn in many different ways, at different times and speeds and from different people. Education does not always need to follow a set plan of “lessons” or even a “timetable” but it is a good idea when explaining your plans, to indicate your longer-term plan and how you intend to achieve your goals.

4. Communicating the choice to Electively Home Educate

4.1 For pre-school age children

If your child is of preschool age, then you do not have to do anything although it would help us considerably in keeping track of those who are being educated at home if you could contact the School Attendance Support Service stating that you intend to educate your child at home and the date from which you intend this to happen.

4.2 For children of statutory school age

4.2.1 With a current school place

If you are withdrawing your child from school, you must do both of the following:

  • write to the Head Teacher of your child’s school to inform him or her of your intention and to ask for the child’s name to be removed from the school roll
  • contact the School Attendance Support Service so that your child can be registered as Electively Home Educated
  • the head teacher will then take off your child’s name from the school roll (unless your child has a Statement of Special Educational Needs in which case refer to 7.3)

4.2.2 Not on a school roll

If your child’s name is not currently on a school roll, and you decide to home-educate, then you should contact the School Attendance Support Service so that they can be registered as Electively Home Educated.

5. Next steps for parents and carers

5.1 Useful questions for you to consider

  • how are you planning to ensure that your child is offered a curriculum that meets their needs and ensures they achieve their potential
  • what are your short and longer-term plans
  • have you considered how you might link together different subjects or topics
  • how do you provide for your child’s physical development
  • how do you arrange for your child to meet and play with others
  • how is the work to be organised
  • how do you plan a mixture of work, including practical activities, as well as written tasks
  • are you likely to enlist the support of a tutor
  • how will you record your child’s progress and difficulties
  • will your programme allow later access to further and higher education if appropriate
  • will a wide range of career opportunities and life chances be available to your child

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. Answers are unique to you as educators of your child or children.

5.2 Your elective home education should be full-time and should commence straight away

Within 4 weeks you should be able to provide details of how you intend to organise your home education. A letter will prompt you to submit the Home Education Plan. Details including the Home Education Plan, any books and materials you intend to use and any other people you intend to use to help him or her learn would be useful information. 

You should also bear in mind that once you decide to educate your child at home you become solely responsible for providing the necessary resources and schemes of work for your child’s education as well as making arrangements for examinations. We recognise that it may take some time to provide the finer details of the Home Education Plan but at this stage, we would expect to see evidence of a coherent educational philosophy.

5.3 Written timetables

You do not have to produce a written timetable as these do not have to be rigid but you should be able to show that you are serious and systematic about what you are doing. It is your responsibility to plan and carry out your arrangements. We may be able to offer informal advice from time to time but we cannot undertake either to direct your child’s learning or to provide books or other equipment.

6. Next steps for Local Authority

Once your Home Education Plan has been received, the Local Authority will examine your submission with these questions in mind:

  1. 6.1 Is the learning process active, practical, participative and systematically planned?
  2. 6.2 Does the planned learning take full advantage of all the resources available locally?
  3. 6.3 Is importance given to literacy and numeracy?
  4. 6.4 Has a programme of educational visits been planned?
  5. 6.5 Are learning opportunities prepared in advance and followed up afterwards?
  6. 6.6 Are opportunities provided to support physical development?
  7. 6.7 Are there planned opportunities for social interaction to take place in different contexts?
  8. 6.8 Are there a variety of approaches to learning using different styles and approaches to learning?
  9. 6.9 Are there opportunities for independent study and research?
  10. 6.10 Is there a considered use of Information Technology?

If the Local Authority is satisfied with the programme a confirmation letter will be sent to you.

If the Local Authority feels that the education you are providing fails to offer your child a suitable education, you will be told the reasons and given the opportunity to amend the programme.

7. Local Authority's role in ensuring children get their educational entitlement

7.1 Section 437 (1) of the Act

Under Section 437 (1) of the Act, the Local Authority must satisfy itself that parents are fulfilling their duties. If you do not provide any evidence of this, either in written form or by discussions with the Authority then it may be seen that your child is not being effectively educated and we would then take steps to secure the child’s return to school.

7.2 Elective Home Education for a child with a statement of Special Educational Need (SEN)

7.2.1 If your child has a Statement of SEN and you wish to home-educate, we will write to you to inform you of the LA’s statutory obligations regarding pupils with a Statement and to request details of how you intend to meet the pupil’s needs as specified on the Statement.

7.2.2 If your child has attended a Special School and it is named on their Statement of Special Educational Needs then their name will remain on the Special School roll until it is confirmed that you are providing a suitable education.

7.2.3 When the details of your programme are received, an LA Special Needs Officer will determine whether you can meet your child’s special needs. We will discuss any concerns with you before determining how best to proceed. It may be that your child’s Statement will be amended or withdrawn. Your child’s needs and welfare are paramount in all deliberations.

8. Helpful hints


  • consider the decision to home educate as seriously as you would the decision about which school you would choose to meet their needs
  • plan how you intend to deliver your child’s education before deciding to home educate as your child’s life chances are at stake
  • look at the costs involved both in terms of resources such as visits, equipment, and books and the commitment of time and energy required in delivering a suitable education
  • plan to provide opportunities for your child to be involved in social activities, make contact with other children and do joint activities with other children and groups
  • keep open the option to reintegrate your child into the school system as your child’s needs may change at different ages and stages

Do not:

  • take your child out of school simply because you have a disagreement with the school or there are unresolved issues such as bullying. In such circumstances, seek an opportunity to talk to the Head Teacher or Chair of Governors who should be able to resolve the situation.

9. Moving from Elective Home Education back to school

If you decide that it is in the interests of your child to continue their education in a school rather than at home, the Admissions Team will advise on how to apply for a school place. There is information, advice and guidance on the school admissions webpage.

If a young person has been out of education for less than 12 months there is an expectation that they will return to the school where they were last on roll providing there is a place available and there are no significant issues that would prevent this. Please contact the School Attendance Support Service to advise of your decision and they can support you with mediation and reintegration.

Appendix 1


Flexi-schooling 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. The arrangement is a legal option but requires the Head Teacher to agree it and the school must include flexi-schooling arrangements in their attendance policy. 

All absences on agreed flexi-schooling sessions are recorded as authorised. The child will be required to follow the National Curriculum whilst at school but is not required to do so while educated at home.


We must be satisfied that parents are fulfilling their educational duties to their child. If you don't provide evidence of this, we will make informal enquiries before considering the need for further action.

Where these informal enquiries are not successful, and it appears that a child is not receiving a suitable education we may serve a notice on the parent. This notice requires the parent to satisfy the authority that the child is receiving a suitable education.

If this order is not complied with within the timescale, we will serve a School Attendance Order on the parent naming a school at which the child must attend.

Last updated 06 December 2023