Is Home Schooling Legal in the UK?

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Home schooling is a very appealing idea to many parents and guardians. In fact, more and more are considering it every year. But there are some pressing questions about home schooling that we need to be asking ourselves. Does it benefit our children? How hard is it to set up? Is it even legal in the UK?

Thinking about whether a type of schooling is legal or not can be a strange idea. But home schooling is very different to traditional schooling in many ways. So, it should be expected that there will also be different policies surrounding it.

In the UK, home schooling is a completely legal form of education. As of 2019 about 60,544 students that are home schooled in England, see here for the Department of Education statistics. Home schooling can be done on a full-time or part-time basis. If your child already attends school, then they will need to be notified of this change. If you are planning to home school part-time then you will also need to arrange this with the school. There are a few requirements for home schooling to ensure that your child is getting the right education for their ability, age and needs.

Continue reading for more information about these requirements and about home schooling in general. If you are considering your home schooling options, then this article will be particularly useful.

Is Home Schooling Legal in the UK?

The idea of taking your child’s education into your own hands to make sure that they get the right attention and support they need in their studies can appeal to some. With a lack of information about home schooling, you may have lots of questions about the whole process. One of these may be about its legality in the UK. 

In the UK, it is completely legal for you to teach your child or children at home on either a part time or full- time basis. This is officially called elective home education. If your child already attends school, then you should tell them before beginning your home education plans. If your child has a school attendance order, then you will also need to ask permission from your local council first. For more information about this check out this governmental guide.

What Percentage of Students Are Home Schooled in the UK?

Home schooling is a growing form of education. In fact, it has been considered the fastest growing type of education since it began in the 1970s. But while it may be growing quite quickly with more and more parents choosing it every year. The question still remains about how many students are really home schooled in the UK.

In 2019, 60,544 students were registered as being home educated in England. In Scotland, independent research has placed the number of home schooled students between 5,000 and 6,000. In Wales, even before the pandemic, there were approximately 2,517 students that are home schooled.

Now, data shows that this figure has risen to 4,002. In Northern Ireland, the number of home schooled pupils is officially 428. This means that there is an average of about 70,430 home schooled students in the UK. This figure is likely to have increased and it may be more due to the figures from other parts of the UK. For more information about home schooling statistics in England (House of Commons Library), Scotland (, Wales (BBC) and Northern Ireland (Belfast Telegraph), click on their respective links.

There are roughly 10.5 million students attending schools in the UK in the 2020- 2021 academic year. This means that roughly 0.67% of these students are home schooled in the UK. With the numbers of home schooled children growing, especially due to the pandemic, this figure is likely to greatly increase in the next few years. For more information about the figures of students in the UK, check out this article from Statista.

What Are the Requirements for Home Schooling in the UK?

Home schooling is completely legal in the UK, which is why so many students are now home schooled. However, it isn’t just as simple as learning at home. This is because there are a few requirements that parents and guardians will need to consider when planning their child’s education.

The UK government states that a child at the compulsory school age must receive efficient full-time education suitable to their age, ability, aptitude, and any special educational needs that they have. If you weren’t sure, compulsory school age is between 5 and 16. For more information about what this means from Thomson Reuters Practical Law, click here. For more guidance on this education law click on this article from

What Do the Requirements Mean for Home Schooling Parents?

These requirements were stated in law in the Education Act of 1996, click here for more detail on this legislation. The terms of this law are quite vague and subjective. So, it can be hard to know what you are legally required to include in your child’s education.

According to this governmental guide, there are no official or legal definitions of the terms efficient, full-time or suitable. Which makes this even more vague and possibly even more confusing for parents and guardians looking to home school.

However, it defines “efficient” as the child achieving what it is intended that they achieve. This likely means that you will have to set out goals for your child’s education and track the progress.

In traditional schooling, a child’s full-time education is about 5 hours per day of teaching for 190 days per year. However, this is not a requirement of home schooling. In fact, home educators are not required to have a set timetable, nor set hours. This is likely because being at home means that home education can essentially take place at any time.

The most specific of the requirement is for it to be “suitable”. While this still doesn’t have an official definition. This is taken to mean that the schooling is appropriate for the child’s age, ability and takes into consideration any additional needs they may have.

It is not essential for home education to follow the national curriculum. However, this could provide a good basis to understand what is considered appropriate for a child’s age. For more information about the national curriculum, check out this governmental guide.

What Is Involved in Home Schooling?

While the term home schooling is quite self-explanatory, it can be difficult to know what it actually entails. Especially as it can be so diverse.

In the UK, it is not essential to follow the national curriculum. The national curriculum is essentially a guide that sets out the study programmes and targets for each stage of education. The national curriculum was introduced mainly in 2014 but was put into place from September 2016. For more information about the national curriculum check out this governmental guide.

As you don’t have to follow it, what you teach is completely up to you. This is as long as it meets the requirements that were mentioned in the above sections. Due to this, you will be able to meet your child’s needs and focus on what they struggle with more directly. On top of that, you can include more about what your child enjoys into your home education plan. You could even teach them some new skills that they wouldn’t be able to learn through traditional schooling.

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