Educating your child at home
Parents whose child attends a local authority school have the right to make a request to educate their child at home rather than have them taught at an authority establishment. Parents can choose to educate their child at home without ever enrolling in an authority establishment.
Parents do not require permission to educate their children from home, but East Renfrewshire Council would welcome being informed so that they may offer support. In order to have consent to withdraw a child from school, a parent must provide an efficient education that is suitable for the age, ability and aptitude of the child. Parents have a responsibility to inform the education authority that they wish to withdraw their child from school in order to educate them at home. They also have a responsibility to request the authority's consent.
What kind of education do parents need to provide?
Parents who choose to educate their children at home do not have to follow a school curriculum or a fixed timetable that keeps to school hours and terms. However, they need to demonstrate that they are providing an education that is suitable for the child, with appropriate variety and resources, access to physical activity and opportunities to meet with other children.
It is the parent's responsibility to provide the curriculum and resources and to meet any costs associated with this.
What about formal qualifications?
There is no legal requirement for young people to take a particular set of qualifications. However, parents educating their children at home can make arrangements for their children to sit formal exams (for example, through their local college). Parents are responsible for any costs associated with this.
How do I apply to withdraw my child from school?
Parents must apply in writing stating the child's name, date of birth and current school. They should outline in the letter their plans to deliver an efficient and suitable education. Parents are not required to give a reason for withdrawing their child.
Parents should receive a response within six weeks of receipt of the letter.
What happens next?
The Quality Improvement Officer who has responsibility for home education will contact the family to arrange a meeting. The officer may be accompanied by a member of school staff or an educational psychologist who knows the child or young person, where appropriate.
The views of the child or young person will be taken into account at all stages of the process. Any application will also be considered in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Whilst all articles from the convention are important, those listed below are perhaps the most relevant with regard to home education.
- Article 3 - The best interests of children must be the primary concern in making decisions that may affect them.
- Article 12 - Children have the right to say what they think should happen and have their opinions taken into account.
- Article 23 - Children who have any kind of disability have the right to special care and support.
- Article 24 - Children have the right to good quality health care.
- Article 28 - Children have the right to a primary education and young people should be encouraged to reach the highest level of education of which they are capable.
- Article 31- Children have the right to relax and play, and to join in a wide range of cultural, artistic and other recreational activities.
Parents are given an opportunity to outline their plans for education at home. Following this meeting, parents will receive a letter informing them whether the request is granted or whether further information will be required.
If consent is granted, the child's name will be removed from the school roll. From this time the parents are responsible for providing their child with an efficient and suitable education. School health services will be notified so that your son or daughter still has access to the service for routine vaccinations and other health support. When your son or daughter turns 16, the education department will send his or her contact details to the local Skills Development Service (SDS).
The department will write to your son or daughter to inform them that their contact details have been sent to SDS and if they do not wish SDS to engage with them they should inform SDS of their decision directly. If consent is not granted, East Renfrewshire Council will give clear reasons why the request has been refused. The parents will be given the opportunity to address the grounds on which it has been refused and resubmit their request if they wish.
What level of contact is there between the Council and home educating families?
The Quality Improvement Officer will make contact with the family at least once a year to review progress and offer advice if requested. Parents can choose whether to provide a written, recorded or electronic update or have a meeting. The child or young person's views are also taken into consideration. After each visit, the Quality Improvement Officer will prepare a report for the authority. A copy of the report is sent to the parents. If there are concerns about the educational provision, more frequent contact may be requested.
In situations where concerns have been identified and the parent has subsequently failed to address these concerns, East Renfrewshire Council can make an attendance order. This allows the parent up to 14 days to provide the council with information to satisfy them about the quality of education on offer. If this is not done, the child will be expected to return to school.
What if the child has additional support needs?
A parent's right to educate their child at home is not changed if their child has additional support needs. However, it is reasonable for the council to ask parents how they plan to cater for their child's needs at home. East Renfrewshire Council has no obligation to provide financial or other support for children with additional support needs who are educated at home.
If you would like more information on education at home, please contact:Alison McGillivray, Quality Improvement Officer.
(0141) 577 3765
You'll find further information at the following links:
- The Scottish Government published guidelines for parents and local authorities on Home Education in January 2010. Read the Scottish Government guidelines on their website.
Schoolhouse Home Education Association is a charitable organisation supporting home education in Scotland. The Schoolhouse website includes legal information, resources, articles and links to an online community connecting home-educated teenagers.
PO Box 18044
Fife KY7 9AD
Tel: 01307 463120
P.O Box 98
Welwyn Garden City
Tel: 01707 371854
- Education Otherwise, is an English charity for supporting home education