Elective home education

We have a duty to contact the family of any Southwark child who is believed to be electively home educated, in order to confirm they are receiving suitable full-time education. Notifications to our service are usually received from schools, parents, or other agencies. If you know of a child who has been removed from a school register to be electively home-educated, you can refer directly to us by completing our online referral form.

Parents are legally required to notify their child’s school in writing if they intend to educate at home, requesting the removal of their child's name from the school roll. It's also recommended that parents notify us of their intentions so that support and advice can be offered.

Parents who choose to home-educate assume full financial responsibility for their child's education, including the cost of exams

If a decision has been made to electively home-educate a child due to a disagreement with a school, disappointment at not getting a particular school place or difficulty in persuading the child to attend, parents should contact the local authority first for advice before taking any action.

The law relating to elective home education

The parent's legal duty - Section 7 of the 1996 Education Act states that:

The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable:

a) to his age, ability and aptitude and
b) to any special education needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise

“Efficient” and “suitable” are not defined in the Education Act 1996, but "efficient" has been broadly described as an education that "achieves that which it sets out to achieve ", and a "suitable" education is one that "primarily equips a child for life within the community of which he is a member...as long as it does not foreclose the child's options in later years to adopt some other form of life if he wishes to do so". It equips your child to achieve their full potential and prepares them for adult life in their community.

Full-time education doesn't mean being bound by school terms and hours because there is often almost continuous one-to-one contact during elective home education.

The child must continue to receive suitable education until the end of compulsory education. 

The Elective Home Education Adviser

The Elective Home Education Adviser understands, respects, and accepts the right of parents to educate their children at home. They will phone you to make arrangements to meet and discuss your plans and will consult with you on how and where you prefer the meeting to take place, for instance, you might prefer to meet in a local library. At the initial meeting, the nature and frequency of future contact should be agreed upon, and after the visit, a written report will be sent to you, with a copy sent to the education department.

If you wish to discuss any aspect of education at home or have any issues or concerns, call 020 7525 5768 or email electivehomeeducation@southwark.gov.uk.

Page last updated: 07 February 2024


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