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Elective home education (EHE)

Elective Home Education (EHE) is when parents decide to educate their child at home instead of sending him/her to school. 

Home education is not an easy option - it can work really well or it can fail to work at all - an important factor in its success or failure is commitment.

If you would prefer your child to be in school or are unsure about whether home education would suit your family, please explore all the alternatives before choosing home education.

For more information please contact Darlington’s Elective Home Education Advisor on 07824 456708, and refer to the guidance below:

Here are some reasons that parents give for considering home education and the recommended actions to take:

There isn’t a place available at the school I want

Some schools are very popular and waiting for a place at them may take a long time. Before you decide to home educate, please contact the School Admissions Team to discuss whether you can appeal for a place.

They can also tell you what alternatives there are in your area. Darlington has many high quality schools to choose from.

My child is unhappy at school

First consider whether he or she is unhappy with school in general or with the particular school they go to.

If the problem is the school they go to, before you remove your child talk to the school about the problems he or she is having.

You should talk first to his or her teacher, then to the headteacher. If you still can’t find a solution you can go to the school governors.

If all else fails, your child may be able to transfer to another school. 

Special needs

If you feel that your child’s special needs aren’t being met in school, there are still options.

If you haven’t already, contact the SEN team for advice. If your child’s special needs are severe you may request an assessment for him or her, which may help in getting support. 

There are also various organisations in and around Darlington that can provide support for special needs. These are not funded or monitored by us.

You may also find that a different school may be able to support your child better.

Do I have to send my child to school?

No. While your child is of compulsory school age (which really means compulsory education age) you must arrange for him or her to get an 'efficient full-time education suitable to his or her age, ability and aptitude, and to any special educational needs he or she may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise'.

A child is of compulsory school age from the start of the school term after his or her fifth birthday until the last Friday in June in the school year in which he or she turns sixteen.

Children usually start school in the September of the school year in which they will turn five.

Do I need permission to home educate?

No, unless your child attends a special school when you must get our consent before you withdraw him or her.

Must I tell anyone I am home educating my child?

If your child is registered at a Darlington school, you should tell the headteacher, in writing, that you are removing him or her from the school register to begin home education. They will then tell us.

If your child has never been registered at a school (or you have moved from outside Darlington), please contact us directly.

Do we have to follow the National Curriculum?

No. However, the National Curriculum does provide a useful framework, especially if you want your child to return to school or take formal qualifications such as GCSEs.

Must I be a qualified teacher?

No, you do not need a teaching qualification or any qualifications at all. You do need to be well organised and have plenty of enthusiasm, commitment and energy if you plan to educate your child yourself.

Will my child have to take tests at each key stage? What if they want to sit GCSEs?

No, testing is not required at any stage. You do not have to enter your child for examinations either.

If home educated children choose to do GCSEs, they can study whatever and however many subjects they wish to. They can take them at any age, study them over any period and take as many as they wish at a time.

Options include part-time attendance at school or college, distance learning courses or independent study. Your child can sit the exam at a local school by arrangement.

Can my child go to school part-time?

It is legal and is known as ‘flexi-schooling’. It is up to the headteacher of the school if they will allow it and the local authority are not involved in this decision. Contact the school directly if you are interested in pursuing this option.

What expenses does home schooling involve?

Many resources, such as the public library, are free. However you will need to pay for resources, educational trips, services of tutors, exam registration and other assessment fees. Grants are not available to support home educators.

Will I have to give up my job?

It depends on what you do. EHE is easiest where one parent is at home to supervise the education. However, not all families are willing or able to do this. In some families both parents work part-time.

Others work from home. Your child could also be educated and looked after by relatives or a nanny while you are at work.

If your child is old enough (and sufficiently self-motivated) to be left to study alone, he or she may be able to stay at home while you work or go to the library.

Some parents take their children to work with them—they may help out some of the time or study in another room onsite. This is easiest if you own your own business, but bosses may be willing to be flexible.

How are you involved in home education?

We have a duty to try to identify all children who are not receiving a suitable education and to take action if it seems this is the case.

However, we consider it our main role to provide support and guidance. We do this chiefly through visits to families who are home educating.

Support we provide:

  • advice at visits
  • help with referrals to other LA services
  • a qualifications guide
  • joint visits with other services that can assist you
  • help finding examination centres for qualifications.

We are not able to offer:

  • learning materials or teaching
  • laptops
  • work experience arrangements
  • recommendations for individual tutors
  • funding

What if I choose EHE and then change my mind?

If at any time you want your child to enter or return to school, contact the School Admissions Team. Re-admission to school follows the same procedures as for any other child applying.


More information

It is worthwhile talking to someone who has experience of the highs and lows of home education before making your final decision. For more information about home education, here are some useful sites to look at.

EHE support groups

There are several national groups that support home educators. They provide information, advice and many useful resources. Some also have local support networks.

EHE general information

EHE blogs

The Underwater Academy of Arts and Sciences [external link]

To discuss options for a school place, contact School Admissions Team on 01325 406333.

EHE can be a happy and constructive experience for both you and your child. If you decide to become home educators we wish you well.

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