Services to Home Educators

Services to Home Educators (SHE) works and supports families who are considering, or have elected, to home educate their child or children. If required, we offer support and guidance regarding home education and our aim is to work in partnership with Norfolk’s home educating families.

In opting for home education parents take on the full responsibility for their child’s education including the cost of things like resources, trips, tutors, courses, subscriptions, public examinations and work experience placements. It is a huge responsibility which requires dedication and commitment with regards to your energy and time.

The rights and responsibilities of parents

Under Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 all parents have a duty to ensure that their children receive an efficient, full-time education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

Usually children attend school but some parents choose to fulfil this responsibility by educating their children at home.

If your child holds a statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) or an Education Health Care plan you still have the equal right to home educate your child; however the education you provide must be suitable for any special educational needs that your child may have.

While a statement or EHCP remains in force the LA retains a duty to review it at least annually; this applies equally when a child is home educated.

If your child attends a special school the local authority must be in agreement with the child being educated at home before the child’s name can be removed from the school roll.

A suitable and efficient, full-time education

The words 'efficient' and 'suitable' are not defined in the Act but are held by the local authority to mean that a child is equipped for life in the community to which he/she belongs and at the same time preparing the child for the option of life in modern society in later years.

The law states that a parent’s duty is to cause a child to receive an efficient, full time education suitable to his/her age, ability, aptitude and special needs.

Government guidelines on home education go on to say that in their consideration of parents’ provision of education at home, local authorities may reasonably expect the provision to include such characteristics as: 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 for the child – such as paper and pens, books and libraries, arts and crafts materials, physical activity, ICT and the opportunity for appropriate interaction with other children and adults.

A full-time home education can be varied and flexible, including activities not usually undertaken at school.

School hours, days and terms do not have to be followed. Parents do not have to have any specific qualifications in order to home educate.

It is not obligatory to follow the National Curriculum or any syllabus similar to that of a mainstream school. Neither are parents obliged to give formal lessons, fixed timetables, meet age-specific standards, mark work, test or make detailed plans in advance.

The LA recognises that there are various approaches to home education which are equally valid and that learning can take place in a variety of environments, not just the family home. The LA will aim to respect and understand parent’s philosophies and individual approaches to education to promote mutual positive and trusting relationships.

Procedures

If a child has never been to school, parents do not have to seek permission to educate at home, nor are they expected to take the initiative in informing the local authority. It is always helpful, however, if parents do notify the LA when a child is being home educated.

If a child is being withdrawn from a mainstream school, parents are legally required to write to the school clearly stating that they will be taking full responsibility for their child’s education at home. The child can then be de-registered from the school roll. The school must inform the LA if a child is removed from a school roll to be home educated.

Once the LA have been made aware of a child being home educated then a welcome letter and form will be sent to the parent/carer asking them to provide details about the education that they are intending to provide. The LA recognises that in the early stages parents may not have firm plans and that things may change as home education becomes more established.

SHE will offer a visit within 12 weeks from the date of notification in order to offer support and guidance, if necessary, and to discuss home education. Parents are under no obligation to accept home visits and may choose to meet at another venue or not at all.

Parents who choose not to meet with the LA can opt to communicate via letter, email or telephone instead. SHE would like parents to keep in touch but cannot insist on regular contact.

If SHE identifies that a child is not receiving a suitable education then Services to Home Educators procedures will be followed.

For more information see the Services to Home Educators protocol.