We work to support families who are thinking about, or have decided, 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.
By choosing home education, you are taking on the full responsibility for your child’s education. This includes 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 from you with 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 take on this responsibility by educating their children at home.
If your child holds an Education, Health and Care (EHC) 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 an EHC plan remains in force, we have a duty to review it at least annually. This is just the same when a child is home educated.
If your child attends a special school, we must agree with your decision to home educate before your 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 Education Act but are interpreted by us to mean that a child is educated to equip him/her for life in the community to which he/she belongs. At the same time the child should be educated so that s/he can make his/her own choices within modern society in later years.
The law states that a parent’s duty is to provide a child with an efficient, full-time education. This should be suitable to his/her age, ability, aptitude and special needs.
Government guidelines on home education go on to say we may reasonably expect the education provision to include things like:
- 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 and ICT
- The opportunity for appropriate interaction with other children and adults
A full-time home education can be varied and flexible, including activities that do not usually take place at school and you do not have to have any specific qualifications to home educate your child.
School hours, days and terms do not have to be followed. DfE guidelines published in April 2019 suggest that a full-time education can be similar to that of a state school where children of compulsory school age receive around 4.5 to 5.0 hours of education a day, for about 190 days a year.
You do not have to follow the National Curriculum or specifications used in mainstream schools, nor do you have to follow fixed timetables, meet age-specific standards, mark work or give formal lessons.
You do need to show how your child is progressing and achieving positive outcomes through your home education.
We recognise that there are various approaches to home education which are equally valid, and that learning can take place in different environments, not just the family home. We will aim to respect and understand parent’s philosophies and individual approaches to education, to promote mutual positive and trusting relationships.
If your child has never been to school, you do not have to ask for permission to educate at home and you are not expected to inform us yourself. It is always helpful, however, if you do let us know that your child is being home educated.
If your child is being withdrawn from a mainstream school, you are asked to write to the school clearly stating that you will be taking full responsibility for your child’s education at home. Your child can then be de-registered from the school roll. The school must inform us if a child is removed from a school roll to be home educated.
Once we have been made aware that your child is being home educated, we will send you a welcome pack which includes a form. This form asks you to provide details about the education you are intending to provide for your child. We recognise that in the early stages of home education, you may not have firm plans and that things may change as home education moves forward.
We will contact parent/carer once the school has told us that a child is being home educated. This is to offer support and guidance, if necessary, and to check that the details the school has given to us are correct. If we offer you a visit you do not have to accept this or you may choose to meet us at another venue.
If you choose not to meet with us you can communicate with us via letter, email or telephone instead. We would like parents to keep in touch but cannot insist on regular contact. At a minimum we will aim to contact you on an annual basis.
If we identify that your child is not receiving a suitable education, we will follow our set procedures.
For more information see the Services to Home Educators protocol.