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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 and to any special educational needs your child may have
  • you do not need special permission from a school or the Education Authority (EA) but you do need to inform the school principal where a child has previously been registered at a school in order that he or she is de-registered
  • you will need to notify the EA 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
  • the EA in your region may 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 the Education Authority

The EA in your region can make informal enquiries to check that a suitable education is being provided.

If the EA 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 EA officer to your home, with or without your child being present
  • meeting an EA officer outside the home, with or without your child being present

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

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