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Educating your child at home

Most parents send their child to school but you do have the right to educate your child at home. As a parent, you must ensure that your child receives a full-time education while they are of compulsory school age which is normally four to 16 years of age.

What's required of you

The facts about home education are:

  • you do not need to be a qualified teacher
  • your child is not obliged to follow the curriculum or take tests, but you are required by law to make sure they receive 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 education and library board but you do need to notify the school in writing
  • you will need to notify the board 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
  • there are no funds directly available for parents who decide to educate their children at home
  • some boards provide guidance on the material which may be suitable for you to use and they may also visit you annually to advise on how your child is progressing

The role of your education and library board

The Education Welfare Service (EWS) within each of the boards can make informal enquiries to check that a suitable education is being provided.

If the EWS makes an informal enquiry, you can show how your child is receiving an efficient and suitable education by:

  • writing a report
  • providing samples of your child's work
  • inviting an EWS officer to your home, with or without your child being present
  • meeting an EWS officer outside the home, with or without your child being present

If it appears that a child is not receiving a suitable education, then EWS might serve a school attendance order.

Although you're not legally required to inform your board when you decide to educate your child at home, it is helpful if you do so. If you are taking your child out of school to home educate them, you need to inform the school in writing.

It's advisable to inform your board of any significant changes relevant to your child's education, like a change of address.

The Education and Library Boards launched a public consultation on draft Elective Home Education guidance which closed on 27th June 2014. They are currently analysing the responses.

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