Education is compulsory - school is optional

Young girl playing with wooden blocksWelcome to the EO website

Though education is compulsory in the UK for children between the ages of five and sixteen, school is not. Many families prefer to educate their children otherwise than at school, and it is their right under UK law to do so. Home educating families do not have to follow the National Curriculum and there is no single 'right' way to educate a child at home.

This site provides information and resources for home educating families and those considering home education for the first time, including guidance on home education and the law, SEN and disabilities; downloadable fact sheets covering many aspects of HE; and links to local HE groups across the UK. If you are new to HE, you might like to start by reading our 'Frequently Asked Questions'. Do you need teaching qualifications to educate your own child? How do you withdraw a child from school? Can a home educated child take public exams? What about socialisation? The answers are all here. When you begin home education, you might find our downloadable information sheets useful for more detailed support in specific areas. 


If you have questions that aren't answered here, please email us using the form on the 'Contact' page or ring the helpline number.

If you find this site helpful, please consider becoming a member of EO and helping to support our work: we are a registered charity, funded entirely from members' subscriptions.You can join either online or by post, and UK family membership costs only £17 per year.  For more information go to the Join EO page.

Contact EO

Contact details for all EO postholders appear on the 'Contact' page - but if you need us in a hurry, here are our two main numbers:

  • Helpline: 0845 478 6345
  • Media: 08445 867548

For all general enquiries about home education and starting to home educate, please call the Helpline in the first instance. The lines are staffed entirely by volunteers, who may sometimes not be available when you call. Please leave a message, and we will call you back as soon as possible.

Home Education in Scotland and Northern Ireland

Home Education legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland differs from that in England and Wales.

Schoolhouse is Scotland's national home education support charity, and a well-established and well respected source of independent information and support for anyone interested in home education there. For more information, visit the Schoolhouse website

Home Education Northern Ireland is an umbrella group for home educators and HE groups in Northern Ireland, and was recently involved in co-ordinating the response to the consultation on the Draft Policy on Elective Home Education published by the five Boards there. Visit the HEdNI website for more information.



You may have received some odd messages from the EO Yahoo groups in the last couple of days. We discovered yesterday that these groups have been taken over by persons unknown at an unknown time and the volunteers who have been carefully looking after these groups for many years have been locked out of  the administration tools without notice or explanation.  In short, the groups have been hacked.  The email address and the domain are similarly in the control of persons other than authorised volunteers.