If your child has never been registered at a state school, or even if you have just moved to a new area, there is a good chance you will not be contacted by the LEA. However if you do suddenly come to their notice, you need to know that if your child is not registered in a school, you are under no legal obligation to tell them you are home educating. You simply need to be willing to give them information about your home education arrangements if they require them.
The LEA’s main role is to provide and maintain schools, but they also have a duty to follow up families where a child is seen to have fallen outside of the normal school provision. This usually involves truanting children, but the home-educated child is also seen by the LEA to come into this category. Their main objective is to establish whether or not your child is receiving suitable education, and if not, to take action against you which could eventually mean taking you to court. This only happens in extreme cases.
Generally the LEA will simply contact you informally from time to time to check that
you are educating adequately. It is best to respond to them in a way that suits you, to avoid them possibly taking further action.
Once you have written to your child’s school informing them you are home educating, you will probably be contacted soon after by the LEA, either by phone, letter, or an unannounced visit. Some LEA’s produce their own information packs for parents, others have forms to fill in, and some may be completely unprepared for your situation, and therefore not fully informed of your rights.
The LEA are usually wanting to see evidence that you are providing a suitable education for your child, and this can be requested in a number of ways (e.g. a request for a curriculum or lesson plans, or a home visit). You may feel able to meet their requests, but you need to know that you are not under any legal obligation to provide a specific form of evidence to show you are providing for your child’s education.
The LEA is not entitled to insist on getting information by any one method. Therefore if you
feel more comfortable to explain your approach and method of home educating in an alternative way, you should inform them of this. It is, however, in your best interests to aim for a constructive relationship with the LEA whichever way you choose to allow this to happen.
Some parents may feel happy with more informal home visits, others may prefer to only enter into written dialogue. The DfES in its leaflet Educating Children at Home states “LEAs…have no automatic right of access to the parent’s home. Parents may refuse a meeting in the home if they can offer an alternative through showing examples of work and agreeing to a meeting at another venue.” Although many LEAs might ask for a timetable and curriculum, most home educators would agree that timetables aren’t necessary in the home situation. In fact that is one of the benefits – education can take place at any time!
Note: This information is correct as of 22:15, 14 December 2011. For the most up to date information, please visit https://www.gov.uk/home-education