Home schooling

Schools, education and learning

Guide to elective home education

In England and Wales, parents have the primary responsibility for ensuring that their children receive an effective education. Although this responsibility is usually delegated to schools some parents choose to exercise it directly by providing an education based at home.

There are many reasons parents decide to educate their child at home, like religion, personal preference, their child's specific need or as a short term intervention.

If you are educating your child at home, you need to make sure you are giving them a suitable full time education from the start of the term following their fifth birthday.

  • You do not need to be a qualified teacher to educate your child at home
  • Your child is not obliged to follow the National Curriculum or take national tests, but as a parent you are required by law to ensure your child receives full-time education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude
  • Any special educational needs your child may have must be recognised
  • You do not need special permission from a school or local authority to educate your child at home, but you do need to notify the school in writing if you're taking your child out of school
  • You will need to notify the local authority if you are removing your child from a special school
  • You do not need to observe school hours, days or terms
  • You do not need to have a fixed timetable, nor give formal lessons

Educating your child at home is a big decision and will require a great deal of your time and energy, but when properly engaged in your child's education it can be a beneficial and satisfying experience for both parents and children.

You will not receive any financial assistance, so there will be expenses including:

  • costs associated with teaching resources
  • access to the internet
  • learning materials
  • the cost of taking exams if you want your child to gain qualifications.

It may be difficult for one person to teach a broad range of subjects so you may also need to consider if you will be paying for a tutor for some or all of the education.

Going to school is not simply about lessons and exams. There are friendships, socialising with other people, development of communication skills and learning from a range of teachers sharing wide ranging interests and experiences which may be missed.

We would recommend you talk to your child about how they feel about home education in this wider context.

If you want your child to return to school at any point, or wish to take exams like GCSEs or A-Levels, you need to think about how they will be prepared for this.

Starting the Elective Home Education Process

If your child is already at school we advise you to write to the school to inform them of your decision to home educate and ask for the child's name be taken off the school roll. The school will inform us, (the local authority) that you are going to be responsible for educating your child.

If your child has never been registered at school,  we encourage you to tell us so we can keep you up to date with information and events you may be interested in. Call 020 8496 1718 or email BACME-Referral@walthamforest.gov.uk.

When we are informed that you plan to educate your child at home, we will contact you to offer an initial visit to provide advice and guidance which may be helpful to you when planning to home educate.

During this visit we would talk about how you plan to provide a suitable education, and ways you can keep evidence that you are doing this. We will also put you in touch with helpful organisations and websites that offer useful support for home educators.

If you do not require a visit you do not need to agree to one, we will not impose where parents choose not to engage with us. Our elective home education policy sets out strictly limited situations where there are strong indications the child may not be receiving a suitable education where we would expect a meeting to be arranged.

We will complete an annual review of the education plan in place for your child’s education.

You can use this template as a guide to help provide information about your child's education:

Download our elective home education plan form (attachment 1)

What to teach your child Click to get info

You will need to provide a full time, efficient education that is suitable for the child's age, ability and aptitude. You do not need to be a qualified teacher, but by working together and identifying how and what your child wants to learn you can equip them for their future.

If your child has special educational needs, the education must meet these needs. If you think your child has special educational needs you can contact us for advice.

The education you provide should prepare your child for life in our modern society and enable them to progress towards reaching their full potential. You don't need to follow the National Curriculum, but think about how your child will develop a range of skills, for example:

  • communication
  • observation and awareness
  • problem solving
  • creative and imaginative
  • numerical
  • physical
  • personal and social

We recommend you consider some elements of the core subjects, for example Maths, English, Science and ICT but how and what you choose is your decision.

Details of what is covered in the National Curriculum is available on GOV.UK.


This document aims to clarify for schools, parents, carers, guardians and related agencies, the protocol and procedures to be observed when a parent elects to home educate their child who is of compulsory school age.

The protocol sets out parents’ rights to educate their children at home, together with the legal duties and responsibilities of head teachers and the Local Authority. It also sets out the arrangements the Behaviour, Attendance and Children Missing Education (BACME) Service from the Local Authority will make in order to carry out its legal duties.

Download the elective home education protocol 

Safeguarding Click to get info

The Law says that a local education authority shall make arrangements for ensuring that the functions given to them in their capacity as a local education authority are exercised with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.  This would include children who are electively home educated.

The vast majority of parents choosing to EHE their child/children are doing this for the right reasons however a number of recent, high-profile cases in which children have been placed at risk whilst being electively home-educated suggest the following;

•            Home-educated children are subject to less monitoring and scrutiny than those who attend school.  Services are less likely to become aware of the signs of abuse or neglect.

•            Parents of children with special educational needs, particularly those with complex and/or profound needs, are likely to struggle with the practical and emotional difficulties of providing home education.  Such parents may lack the support of others and become isolated.

It is, therefore vital to gather information about vulnerable children/families and to share it systematically with relevant officers and workers.

The BACME Officer with a lead for EHE will identify newly referred children who may be vulnerable to not receiving their education entitlement with the following Indicators of vulnerability;

•            Children known to Social Care, including those who have a child protection plan or those who have been designated as children in need. 

WF Local Authority acknowledge that parents can decide to EHE at any time; however it considers that where a child is made subject to a Child Protection plan, currently subject to a child protection plan, or is child in need, the conference chair/ chair of the child in need meeting will make clear that if the parent/carer has already declared EHE, or states an intention to do so, the risk will be re-considered in light of this information with the likelihood that the child could be considered at risk of harm as a consequence of being in receipt of EHE.

The BACME EHE lead will liaise with Children’s Services on those occasions where there is uncertainty about the welfare of a child or young person.

Please refer to the EHE Protocol for full details 

Parents’ right to educate their child at home applies equally where a child has SEN. This right is irrespective of whether the child has an Education Health Care Plan(EHCP) and is home educated, it remains the local authority’s duty to ensure that you are educating your child so that their needs are met. You will need to ensure that you are providing the support that is outlined in the EHCP. The EHCP is a legal document and it will be reviewed by the local authority annually.

If your child has an Education, Health Care Plan and attends a special school their name cannot be removed from the roll without the agreement of the LA as the LA has a duty to maintain the plan and to review annually. If your child is a pupil at a special school the LA will need to consider whether your education provision is suitable before amending the EHCP to name Elective Home Education.

Useful Information Click to get info

If you want your child to take exams, such as GCSEs, your plan must include the year your child will sit exams, deadlines for applying, where they will take exams, and you will need to be familiar with the details of the correct syllabus to follow.

Many subjects also have coursework, which will need to be marked by someone the exam board has approved.

You will also need to contact an exam centre directly and register your child for the exams. You will be responsible for all the fees.

College courses for 14 to 16 year olds (key stage 4)

Home educated young people aged 14 to 16 can go to college, either full or part time, and the government may fund the course. It is up to the colleges whether or not to admit under 16s. These students can do any course agreed by the college, not just a designated 14-16 course, although many colleges still don't offer GCSE courses. Read the full details on GOV.UK.

Planning your future career, education or training

We usually encourage young people to explore their future options around career choices, and continuing their education and training, from around the age of 14.  

Returning to school

Should your circumstances change, and you need or want your child to return to school, you need to apply for a school place through an in year admission. If you need any help or support in accessing a school place you can discuss this with us, your elective home education contact can guide help with this process.

Advice for Parents 

Contact us Click to get info

For advice on how to inform the local authority about your intention to home educate your child please contact:

BACME service

Behaviour, Attendance and Children Missing Education

Telephone: 020 8496 1718/1719

Email: BACME-referral@walthamforest.gov.uk

Support services for parents

Citizens advice for SEND (SENDIASS)

Telephone: 020 3233 0251

E-mail: wfsendiass@citizensadvicewalthamforest.org.uk

Website: Citizens advice Waltham Forest

Advisory centre for education

Telephone: 020 7704 3370

Website: ACE website