Home education

Overview

Parents choose to home educate their children for different reasons. Many will research what’s involved in detail before they make a considered and planned decision. But sometimes parents turn to home education as a reaction to a school-based issue.

If you are considering home educating in response to a school-based issue, don't withdraw your child from school before you have explored all the options.

Once your child is off a school roll:

  • You are directly responsible for providing them with a full-time, suitable education.
  • There are no automatic support services or resources for home educating parents and their children.
  • You will have to pay for your own learning resources and the cost of any exams including GCSEs.
  • If you want your child to return to a school in future, you will need to apply in the normal way and there may not be a place in your preferred school. Your child will not be given priority for a place because they are out of school.
  • If it appears to us that your child is not receiving a suitable education, we may serve you with a school attendance order if we think your child needs to be taught in school. This may not be for a school of your choice and may be to return to the school your child previously attended.

For these reasons, take advice before deciding to home educate, either from the council’s lead officer for elective home education (EHE) or one of the independent home education organisations.

The Newcastle approach to home education

  • Every child has the right to education that is appropriate to their age, ability, aptitude, and any special educational needs they may have.
  • As a parent, you are responsible for ensuring your child receives a full-time suitable education and we respect your right to choose to educate your child according to your own beliefs.
  • Although we consider that school provides the best learning opportunity for most children, you have the right to educate your child outside of the school system and may do so for a variety of reasons.
  • The decision to choose to educate your child at home should be an informed, active and positive one. It is important that you have enough information before making the decision.
  • We want an open and active dialogue with you and to work in partnership to support you and your child. We offer all home educating parents a home visit from our lead officer following a new referral, and at least annually. This helps us to meet our responsibility to ensure your child is getting a suitable education.
  • If you withdraw your child from school to home educate them, we accept that you may need time to establish your home education practice. We don’t therefore expect a detailed plan at the start and will maintain a regular and supportive dialogue as appropriate.
  • We will also be mindful of your child’s personal needs, health, safety and welfare, as well as their educational needs.
  • We will support your choice to home educate, unless it appears to us that suitable provision is not being made for your child.

Taking the decision to home educate

You are not required to tell us you are home educating if your child:

  • is of pre-school age,
  • has never been registered at school, or
  • you are already home educating and moved to Newcastle.

However, it would help considerably if you do so and tell us your reasons why. We can offer support and information for you and your child.

Removing your child from a school roll

You must write to the headteacher if you plan to take your child out of school to be home educated. They must accept if you’re taking your child out completely. They can refuse if you want to send your child to school some of the time.

More information on the steps is provided in the table below.

1. Once the school becomes aware that you are considering home-educating or intend to home educate, the head teacher or pastoral lead will talk to you to check that you are making an informed choice. They will give you an information leaflet about what home educating means for you and your child. If there are any school-based issues behind your decision, discuss these with the school to see if these can be addressed first. We also suggest you seek advice from us or one of the national networks.
2. If you are sure this is the right thing for your child and you can commit the time and any other resources necessary to provide your child's full-time education yourself, you should write to the head teacher to explain that you wish to educate your child at home and request that the school remove them from the register.
3. The school will notify the council immediately and forward us a copy of your letter stating your intention to home educate. Our  Home Education officer will contact you within 10 days and arrange to make a home visit.
4. At the initial visit we will consider any evidence you have of your home education plans. It is helpful if you have some evidence of the educational programme e.g. resources used, timetable, subjects, projects undertaken, examples of your child’s work etc. If you are new to home education, we understand that there may be limited evidence.  We would ask you to show, by whatever means you can, what you have or intend to arrange for your child’s education. The majority of home educators have clear reasons for choosing home education and can easily satisfy us that you have suitable plans in place. If we are satisfied that you are providing, or have clear plans to provide, a suitable education for your child, we will tell you and a follow-up visit will be offered approximately 12 months later.
5. Approximately 12 months after the visit, we will write to you again with a proposed date for a follow-up visit to discuss your child’s educational progress.
6. If we consider that you are not providing, or cannot provide a suitable education, we will tell you and arrange a further visit.  If after a number of visits we consider that you are still not providing, or cannot provide a suitable education, we may consider more formal action. This can include issuing a School Attendance Order which will direct you to register your child at a school. If we have major safeguarding concerns at any point, in the interest of the child, we may refer to Children’s Social Care.

Children with special educational needs

You can choose to home educate your child if you wish.

You must however have the council's agreement if your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and you wish to remove them from any specialist educational provision that is named in the plan.

If your child has an EHCP, they will continue to have an annual review of the plan to review the support in place and ensure their needs are being met.

Home education curriculum

You are legally required to arrange a full-time education that is “suitable for your child”. What you provide and how you provide it, is up to you.

Some parents follow the National Curriculum, but this is only one way of meeting your child’s educational needs. Following the National Curriculum may make it easier for your child, if they ever wish to return to school.

When your child is 16 years of age, they will be able to take up post-16 education, training and employment opportunities.  Access to these opportunities will depend on your child’s ability and skills.  We therefore suggest that developing the basic skills of reading, writing, maths, computer literacy and interpersonal skills are a minimum requirement.

Areas such as science, history, languages, geography, creative arts and physical activity should also be included, where possible.

When choosing to home educate, you need to consider what you and your child want the outcome to be at the end of the journey.  All parents will want their child to be a happy, rounded individual who can be successful in whatever they choose to do in the future.  At some point, your child is likely to want a job or career.  The route for achieving this needs to be considered carefully.  If exams, qualifications and academic success are important, advance planning is essential. 

Home educating approaches

It is entirely up to you to decide the most appropriate approach depending on what you are ultimately hoping to achieve for your child.  You will need to take account of their character and personality and their preferred learning styles.

There are three very broad approaches used by home educators.

  1. School at home - This is usually subject-based and may follow textbooks, workbooks and traditional programmes of study.  There is usually a timetable of subjects being learned.
  2. Semi-structured learning - There is a structured learning programme but it is more broadly based than a traditional subject based one.  Often children choose areas that interest them and study them in depth.
  3. Autonomous learning - This approach involves the child following their own interests entirely, with encouragement by parents to access a wide range of resources.  It does not mean the child doing or learning nothing.

Many new home educators start with school at home and then become more flexible as their children become more independent learners.

Suggested ways to plan teaching and learning

  • Try to make the learning process active, practical, enjoyable and participative, rather than something that is “done” to your child.
  • Vary the style and content of the approach so that your child does not get “bored”.
  • Plan the learning programme rather than doing activities piecemeal or in a  haphazard way, to occupy time.
  • Give appropriate opportunities for independent studies and research as well as direct teaching.
  • Consider ways of assessing what your child has learned from time to time, so that your child can see the progress they are making.  Some home educators write a learning diary, which can be used to map progress and identify learning gaps.
  • Take advantage of all the resources available to you e.g. the local environment, library, free resources on the Internet, education courses, leisure facilities, places of interest etc.,
  • Give great importance to reading, as being able to read will enable your child to access a wide range of information and knowledge.
  • Don’t forget both physical and social activities that will help develop your child’s skills.

There are lots of resources in the wider community available to home educators such as libraries, parks, community centres, museums, nature reserves, art galleries, historic buildings, theatres, colleges, tourist information centres. 

Socialisation opportunities for your child

When a child attends a school, there are daily opportunities to interact with other children and adults. There is no reason why home educated children cannot meet with other children and adults. The only difference is that you will have to create the opportunities. 

Thousands of children are home educated.  Many formal and informal groups exist that meet together, not only for educational activities but also social activities.  These groups network and share ideas and resources.  Contact local home educating groups for information.

Funding for equipment, books or visits

There is no specific national or local funding for home-educators. Some museums and other attractions give free or discounted admission to home educators. You may find it useful to build up contacts with other parents also educating their children at home. This also allows you to exchange ideas and resources. You can always explore the possibility of group discounts on entry fees for educational visits. There is an increasing amount of free learning material on the internet but use a reliable source, for example like the BBC.

GCSE examinations

Home-educated children can take GCSEs but you will have to pay a fee.

  • In the majority of cases, if a young person wants to take a GCSE which requires an exam, the exam has to be taken at an approved exam centre, usually a secondary school or post 16 provider.  As a home educator you will have to contact the provider directly.  You can contact individual examination boards in order to find out exactly how they handle private candidates.  Making contact with one of the home education support organisations for advice can be useful.
  • You will have to pay for any exam registration fee and assessment of coursework by an accredited person.  The registration fee for a GCSE exam is approximately £30-50 per subject plus an administration fee.
  • Correspondence courses are also available, although they can be expensive (about £300+ per subject).
  • If your child wants to go on to Higher Education, universities do not necessarily expect GCSEs, - A-level grades are more important.  Universities often view home educated children positively, as motivated self-learners.

If you want your child to take GCSEs and don't want to pay for them yourself, they will need to be on a school roll. 

Some schools start GCSEs in Year 9. You should try to enrol them in school as early as possible into the GCSE programme to give them the best chance of success. Different schools will offer different course options and they don't all use the same exam boards so if your child joins late, they may struggle to fit in.

Contact the Schools Admissions team for advice on applying for places in-year and to find out which schools have spaces.

Routine health checks that are carried out in school

You should let your GP know that you are home educating your child so that they can provide information and guidance about routine health checks that would normally happen in school and other health support services that visit schools regularly. Newcastle School Health Service can be contacted on 0191 2823411.

Some of the routine health checks and immunisations for children include:

  • Eye checks
  • Height and weight in Reception and Year 6
  • Cervical cancer vaccine (HPV) for girls at around 12-13 years of age
  • Diphtheria, tetanus and polio booster, given as a single vaccine between 13 and 18 years old

Useful contacts and resources

Information, advice and guidance

Newcastle Support Directory

Connexions Newcastle

Home education support networks

Education Otherwise 

Home Education Advisory Service

Home Education UK 

Home Education in the UK

Examinations Support

Ed Yourself - information and advice on examinations

AQA 

OCR

Pearson

Home Education in the UK - advice on GCSEs  

Special Educational Needs Support Services

Newcastle Special Educational Needs and Disability Information and Support Service (SENDIASS)

Newcastle Local Offer

National Autistic Society

Home education in the UK - special educational needs 

 

 

Need more information?

The lead officer for home education in Newcastle is Fiona Parker in the Access and Attendance Service.

Contact Fiona by:

Email: attendanceservice@newcastle.gov.uk

Phone: 0191 277 4500

Writing: Access and Attendance Service

Newcastle City Council

3rd Floor, Civic Centre

Barras Bridge

Newcastle NE1 8QH

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