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A Summary of the Law on home schooling in England and Wales

Introduction

Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 provides that: -

The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable:

(a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and

(b) to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

Home schooling is thus education other than by regular attendance at school.

The need to provide a suitable education has been defined as one which was such as: 1. to prepare the children for life in modern civilised society, and 2. to enable them to achieve their full potential. (Harrison & Harrison v Stevenson 1981). Furthermore in R v Secretary of State for Education and Science, ex parte Talmud Torah Machzikei Hadass School Trust (Times, 12 April 1985) Woolf J. held that:

Education is "suitable" if it 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.

Provided the child is not a registered pupil at a school, the parent is not required to provide any particular type of education. There is no obligation for the parent to have any specific qualifications, to adopt the National Curriculum or give formal lessons.


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The extent of LEA involvement

It is not necessary to obtain the permission of the local LEA before home schooling and the LEA does not have any responsibility to monitor the education of home schooled children regularly. However, sections 437 to 443 of the Education Act 1996 place a duty upon local education authorities to take certain actions if it appears that a child is not being properly educated, and they will serve a notice in writing on the parent requiring him to satisfy them within a given period that the child is receiving such education (s. 437(1)). Phillips v Brown, Divisional Court [20 June 1980, unreported] established that an LEA may make informal enquiries of parents who are educating their children at home to establish that a suitable education is being provided. In their leaflet, "Educating Children at Home, England and Wales" (June 1998), the DfEE states: LEAs, however, have no automatic right of access to the parent's home. Parents may refuse a meeting in the home, if they can offer an alternative way of demonstrating that they are providing a suitable education, for example, through showing examples of work and agreeing to a meeting at another venue.


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De-registration

If the child has never attended school, no formal steps need to be taken prior to home schooling. In other cases, the Education (Pupil Registration) Regulation 9, 1995 sets out the conditions under which a pupil's name must be removed from the admission register of a school. Under Regulation 9(1)(c), the name of a school-age pupil is to be deleted from the admission register if:

He has ceased to attend the school and the proprietor has received written notification from the parent that the pupil is receiving education otherwise than at school.

The parent needs to notify the governing body of the school, usually through the head teacher, of the intention to home-educate, but is under no obligation to inform the LEA of their intention. Under Regulation 13(3), the proprietor of the school must report the deletion of the pupil's name from the admission register to the LEA within ten school days.


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Children with special needs

There are special rules in relation to home educating children with Special Educational Needs. Where a child does have a statement of special needs and begins home education, the LEA's statutory duty to undertake an annual review continues. Parents of children with special educational needs do not need to have any special qualifications or training to assume direct responsibility for their children's education. Furthermore, they do not need to inform the LEA of their intention to home-educate unless the child is registered at a special school when the consent of the LEA is necessary to withdraw the child from the school. (Education (Pupil Registration) Regulation 9(2), 1995).

Further details of the law as well as the provisions in relation to Scotland and N. Ireland can be found at the following websites: -

http://www.education-otherwise.org/Legal/IndexToLegalBits.htm

http://www.education-otherwise.org/Legal/ScottishHE/ndxlglbtsScot.htm (Scotland)

http://www.hedni.org/legal.html (N. Ireland)

These websites also provide sample de-registration letters.

 

 

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matt. 6:33


Christadelphian Home Schooling, UK