Educating your child at home is called home education or elective home education (EHE), or home schooling. 

Your right to choose to home educate

More information about your right to home educate.

It's important to know that it's your choice to decide what is a suitable education for your child. Your child's education is always your responsibility. 

We are not here to correct you. We're here to help and support you, and to provide reassurance from a trustworthy person that you can educate your child in the way you see fit. 

There are different ways you can educate your child at home to best meet their needs. You do not have to: 

  • follow the national curriculum 
  • cover certain topics 
  • meet certain standards by certain stages or ages 
  • have a scheduled timetable or stick to 'term times' 

You must make sure your child receives a full-time education from the age of 5. If you are educating your child at home, this should occupy a significant proportion of their life, but you can deliver it in a flexible way. 

You do not need to be a teacher or have any other special qualifications. 

Read more about elective home education on the GOV.UK website

What you should think about before you decide to home educate

Things to consider before you home educate.

These questions may help you with your planning for home education: 

  1. are you considering home education as a positive choice? Or do you feel you have no alternative? If you feel you have no alternative we advise you to speak to one of our Inclusion Leads before going any further 
  2. have you discussed home education with your child? What do they think?
  3. what experiences can you use to help you successfully home educate? 
  4. do you want your child to take GCSEs or other qualifications? If so, you're responsible for finding an exam centre that will accept external candidates for the right exam board and paying for the exams which cost around £150 per subject 

How will you: 

  • work out how much time to devote to your child's education? 
  • provide the necessary resources to support your child's education? 
  • make sure your child has the opportunity to have social experiences? 
  • make sure your child can take part in physical exercise? 

Our locality support team are here to help you

Who at Dorset Council can help you.

We have Inclusion Leads in each of our 6 localities around Dorset. These Inclusion Leads are the main point of contact for you as a home educator. They are there to listen to you and give you give you information, ideas, encouragement and reassurance. 

An Inclusion Lead will engage with you with an open mind about what's best for your child and with the knowledge that you know your child best. They check that your child is safe in the same way we check that schools keep children safe. 

The best way for our Inclusion Leads to do this is to speak to your child and listen to them talk about their experience of home education. They will communicate with you by your preferred method, for example by phone, email or face to face. 

What to do if you decide to home educate

Who you should tell and speak to.

If your child is currently at school, you should tell the school in writing if you plan to educate them at home. You do not have to give a reason why, but it would help the school understand if you do. 

The school will give you a 2 week cooling off period when you can send your child back to school if you change your mind during this time. 

Once you have removed your child from the school, they will let us at Dorset Council know. 

Our Inclusion Lead will contact you to offer support and to understand the type of education you're going to provide. This is important because we have a duty to check both the safety of all children and that they're receiving a suitable education. Our Inclusion Leads have had training from home educators about what home education means and what a suitable education looks like. 

Our Inclusion Lead will make contact at least annually and ask for information about your child’s learning at home. You can provide this information in a variety of ways. 

Let us know if you decide to home educate 

It would be helpful to let us know if your child is not at a school. You can do this by contacting us. No one will try to put you off home educating; they will listen openly and offer advice and guidance or show you where to find support you may need. 

What to do if your child has an education, health and care plan (EHCP)

Who you should speak to if your child or young person has an EHCP.

If your child has an EHCP you should speak to your relevant Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision lead before taking your child out of school. 

When you remove a child from a school roll, they may no longer have access to some Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) support services. You have a responsibility to provide an education that's suitable for your child's special educational needs. We will continue to arrange an annual review of their EHCP with you. 

What to do if your child attends a special school

Who to speak to if your child attends a special school.

If your child has SEND and attends a special school, you’ll need to get the council’s permission to educate them at home. You do not need the council’s permission if your child attends a mainstream school, even if they have an EHCP. 

We recommend that you ask for an interim review so that everyone who currently supports your child can work together to plan for a successful transition if home education is agreed.

Financial support to home educate

About financial support for home educators.

As a parent choosing to home educate it's your responsibility to cover the costs, including the cost of any public exams. This means you do not receive any financial support for home education. You can: 

  • borrow books from your local library 
  • access free online materials 
  • speak to other home educators about free or discounted opportunities in your area 

Changing your mind about home education

What to do if you change your mind about home educating.

If you change your mind and decide you no longer want to home educate your child we (Dorset Council) can help you to find a suitable school place for your child. There's no guarantee there will be a place available at your child's previous school. 

Your Inclusion Lead can help you with this process. 

Groups and resources for home educating

Information on groups and organisations that can help.

We don't endorse any of these independent groups and organisations, they're for information only. Let us know if you'd like to suggest other useful organisations we could include in this list.  

Local home education groups 

These are some of the local groups who can support and advise you if you decide to educate your child at home: 

National home education groups 

These are some of the national groups who can support and advise you if you decide to educate your child at home: 

Get resources to home educate 

These organisations offer resources for home education: 

Home tutoring and education services: 

General advice: 

Examining boards: 


Information about Flexi schooling.

Flexi-schooling is an arrangement for providing a full-time education to a child whereby the child attends school part of the time and is educated elsewhere, usually by the parent, for the rest of the time. 

Flexi-schooling is not the same as home schooling / Elective Home Education. Parents or carers who request flexi-attendance are asking for a pattern of provision which will involve both attendance at school, as well as times when the child will receive educational provision at home. 

Flexi-schooling is also different from temporary part-time attendance arrangements which the school / parent or carer may seek to make. Part time attendance and arrangements are monitored and reviewed with the intention that the child be returned to full time attendance as soon as possible. 

For any advice about flexi-schooling talk to your school, or you can get advice from our locality support team

Contact a locality team.

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