Educating your child at home

Educating your child at home

Your child must receive a full-time education from the age of five but you can choose to educate your child at home.

If your child is already in school and you decide you want to teach them at home, you'll need to write to the headteacher or chair of governors to let them know and ask them to take your child's name off the school's register. Your child will be recorded as absent without authorisation and you could be fined if you don't inform their school. The headteacher or chair of governors will then notify the Inclusion, Attendance and Welfare Service, who (acting on our behalf) will check:

  • this is the best option for you and your child
  • there aren't any issues or problems influencing your decision that could be resolved
  • you're able to provide an effective education considering your child's age, ability, aptitude and any special needs.

Once the school has accepted your decision (they can refuse if you want to send your child to school some of the time) we'll contact you to make informal enquiries regarding your plans, provide advice and offer you access to a Home Education Advisor. We can't enforce an educating method and you don't have to follow the national curriculum but it can be a useful guide.

We have a legal and safeguarding responsibility to monitor all children who are missing from school so if you're educating your child at home and your child has never been registered at a Plymouth school we'd appreciate you letting us know. You aren't legally required to do so but we can put you in touch with our Home Education Advisor and provide useful advice and information. Email ehe@plymouth.gov.uk or call 01752 307405 to let us know your plans.

Plymouth City Council has to determine whether the education that is being provided is an efficient and full time education, suitable to the child's age, ability, aptitude and any special educational needs that the child may have. When we look at the examples that parents present, we look at it in this light.

The first thing that we would like to know about is your approach to education. Once we have an idea of this, it becomes your responsibility to provide examples which clearly demonstrate the suitability of your child’s education provision.

Does the information demonstrate that the home education is efficient?

  1. The information should demonstrate a home educators approach to assessment and planning in order that learning can facilitate academic progress.
  2. The information should demonstrate progression expected across the period, whether or not this has been achieved (unless home education has only just started) and what next in order to further extend the child’s knowledge.
  3. The information presented should demonstrate opportunities for learning, including the range of subjects covered and information about a child’s access to learning resources and social opportunities.
  4. The information should demonstrate the ways in which the child is being introduced to a wide range of knowledge, understanding and skills.
  5. Each topic should be allotted sufficient time but not to the detriment of other essential areas of learning i.e. literacy and numeracy.
  6. It is also important for home educators to present opportunities for personal, social and health education, outdoor and environmental education, citizenship, careers, food technology and information and communication technology.

Does the information demonstrate that the home education is full time?

The information should enable Plymouth City Council to assess the overall time devoted to home education of a child on the basis of the number of hours per week, and weeks per year. Home educator’s should be able to demonstrate that the education is occupying a significant proportion of a child’s life (making due allowance for holiday periods).

Does the information demonstrate the home education is suitable to the child’s age, ability and any Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND) that the child may have?

  1. It is important that you include information about your child’s ability and how this is been assessed.
  2. We also need to know whether or not your child has SEND and to what extent (if any) this impacts on their ability to meet age related expectations.
  3. The information provided should demonstrate what the child is taught, and how it is taught, taking into account of the child’s age, abilities, aptitude and any SEND.

What other factors will Plymouth City Council take into account when making a decision?

  • Plymouth City Council may use minimum expectations for literacy and numeracy in assessing suitability, whilst bearing in mind the age, ability and aptitude of the child and any special educational needs he or she may have;
  • education may not be ‘suitable’ even if it is satisfactory in terms of content and teaching, if it is delivered in circumstances which make it very difficult to work (for example in very noisy premises). This might also affect whether it is ‘efficient’ and indeed, whether it is ‘received’ at all for the purposes of s.7 Education Act 1996; and
  • education may also not be deemed suitable if it leads to excessive isolation from the child’s peers, and thus impedes social development.

When might the home education be considered to be unsuitable?

  1. There may be a variety of reasons why the information / evidence provided has not been deemed suitable by the local authority. This may include:
  2. The education provision described lacks detail and it is difficult to ascertain what is being taught / what subjects are being studied.
  3. There is no or very limited examples of work submitted.
  4. There is no or very limited information regarding resources used internally and externally.
  5. There is no or very limited detail of how the child’s progress is being monitored or examples of work to demonstrate relevant progression.
  6. There is no clear academic or time structure.

It is important to note that the above is for guidance and by way of example only and is not an exhaustive list. Each case is judged upon its own individual circumstances.

What types of evidence and information can I submit to Plymouth City Council?

Plymouth City Council must be satisfied that appropriate education is taking place and therefore it will be about building a full picture of the individual circumstances rather than rigid adherence to a check list.

As a guide the types of information and evidence that can be submitted may include:

  • a report written by the home educator
  • timetables
  • curriculum plan
  • photographs
  • work books
  • progress reports
  • dated work over time
  • conversations with the child / parent; home visits; etc.
  • original work (or photocopies of this); 
  • art work;
  • scrapbooks;
  • musical, academic and sporting achievements (certificates);
  • diary of events and activities;
  • recordings;
  • on-line blogs.

There are as many ways of demonstrating examples of education provision as there are home educators.  The Local Authority will always be happy to listen, add to the above list as new ideas are suggested and share good practice.

Home educators can use the EHE Monitoring Record as a template guide, in order to provide information to the local authority regarding the suitability of the education that they are providing for their child. The template is not compulsory, it can also be adapted by home educators to meet their individual requirements.

Download Home education Monitoring Record [PDF, 128KB]

Returning to school

If you want your child to return to school please email inyear.admissions@plymouth.gov.uk or visit the school admissions webpages for information and to apply for a school place.