Educating your child at home is called home education (sometimes elective home education EHE, or home schooling). You can teach your child at home, either full or part-time.
Your right to choose 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, as the local authority, 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're 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.
Think about these points before you decide to home educate
These questions may help you with your planning for home education:
- 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
- have you discussed home education with your child? What do they think
- what experiences can you use to help you successfully home educate?
- 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?
How we as Dorset Council are involved
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.
Our Inclusion Leads 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
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.
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 your Inclusion Lead. 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 (EHC) plan
If your child has an EHC plan you should speak to your SEND 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 SEN 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 EHC plan with you.
What to do if your child attends a special school
If your child has SEN 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 education, health and care (EHC) plan.
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
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
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.
We don't endorse any of these 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:
- HERA Dorset: friendly home education social group based in Poole, with families attending from Dorset and Hampshire
- Home Education Centre (HEC) Chard: supporting home-educating families in the south-west
- Home Educators Yeovil (HEY)
- search Facebook for more home educator groups in Dorset
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:
- Education Everywhere: information sharing helpline service staffed by experienced volunteers
- Education Otherwise: UK charity offering information and support to home-educating families
- Educational Freedom: free information and support
- Home Education Advisory Service (HEAS): home education charity offering advice and support
- Home Education UK
Get resources to home educate
These organisations offer resources for home education:
- 3A Tutors Ltd: private tutorial college and independent exam centre based in Bristol
- BBC Bitesize: interactive website covering all areas of the national curriculum
- BBC Five ways to keep your kids learning at home
- CGP books
- Conquer Maths:free diagnostics, lessons and tests available
- EdPlace: subscription site with worksheets based on the national curriculum from key stage 1
- InterHigh Education: offers a complete secondary school education on the internet
- IXL: complete curriculum coverage of maths and English from reception to year 13
- Khan Academy: free interactive site for maths
- Letts revision
- Muddle Puddle: independent site focusing on learning for 0 to 8 year olds
- National Extension College (NEC): offers distance learning courses, including GCSEs and A levels
- Oak National Academy: free video lessons and resources
- Oxford Home Schooling: distance learning college offering courses from key stage 3 and above
- Parents in Touch:information, links to suitable websites and downloadable worksheets
- Primary Resources:free resources for downloading covering all areas of the national curriculum
- TES: register for access to free resources
- Twinkl: free, printable resources for all areas of the curriculum for early year
- World Wide Education Service: assists families with the education of children aged 3 to 14 years
Home tutoring and education services:
General advice groups:
- Advisory Centre for Education (ACE): national charity providing advice and information for parents
- Ansbury (used to be known as Connexions): principal provider of expert independent careers guidance for young people and adults in Dorset
- The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA)
- National Curriculum
- Oxford, Cambridge and RSA (OCR)
- Pearsons (Edexcel, EDI, LCCI)