Do UK Homeschoolers Get Checked On By The Council / LEA?
For all of our homeschooling blog posts, including resources, exams, socialisation and more, see our UK homeschooling blog page. Whether you homeschool or not, you may wish to check out our pick of 100+ brilliant UK homeschooling resources, (many of which are FREE!) for supplementing your child’s education.
One of the questions I get asked often is whether or not UK homeschoolers have to have checks or monitoring from the Local Education Authority (the council). This is a somewhat grey area as there is law laid out regarding each council’s authority and responsibilities, but this is interpreted by each council and inevitably there are variations in how they interpret and act on this law.
The most local departmental guidance provided to councils can be found here for parents’ reference, if you want to see what each council is getting in the way of info from the government about home education. As you can see there is no clear structure for how local authorities contact or interact with families in terms of ensuring a suitable education is provided (5.3, “There are no detailed legal requirements for how such a system of oversight should work”).
If you have never registered your child at school you may not hear from the LEA and you have no obligation to inform them that you are home educating; there is no UK homeschooling register that you have to join. If you have deregistered your child from school it is very likely that you will receive a letter from the council asking to provide evidence that your child is receiving a suitable education. It used to be vaguely agreed that six months from the day of de-registration is a reasonable period in which newly home educating families should be left to find their feet without having to provide the council with evidence; this is now no longer the case (see point 6.2 in the developmental guidance document linked above) and you should be prepared to answer for how your child will be educated soon after deregistering.
This does not mean that you need to be following the national curriculum, or any (learn about the different kinds of curriculums here) but you should have ideas and resources available that you can show the council- for example a list of educational websites your child uses, any memberships or clubs you belong to, any books they like to read, groups or classes they attend, apps or digital games they enjoy, etc. (There are a ton of ideas in this 100+ brilliant UK homeschooling resources post).
Some local authorities will write to homeschooling families with a date for a visit- this is not obligatory and you can simply write back and provide them with a report of how you are home educating. Ideally this should include a description of your style of home education, and resources that you are using; plans for the future would also be helpful. You are not obliged to fill out any forms that the council send you or provide samples of children’s work.
Depending on the council, you will either then be written to once a year for an update, or they will ask for more information. Home educators have various opinions on how much homeschooling families should engage with the councils; ultimately it is a decision undertaken by each family as to whether to have annual visits/meetings or keep contact to a minimum through written correspondence.