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. 

Support

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.

We operate a telephone Helpline for queries related to Home Education. This service is staffed entirely by volunteers who, in most cases, are actively engaged in home educating their own children and may not be available when you call. Before calling the Helpline, please ensure that you have looked through this website for the information you need. If possible, please email our general enquiries address with your query in the first instance, as this allows our volunteers to respond when they are free to give your query their full attention and to send you information and useful links via email. Please state your query in your email so that it can be answered - do not simply email us your phone number and ask us to call you back.  

Helpline numbers

 

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.

 

IMPORTANT

Education Otherwise frequently receives enquiries from parents about home education, often relating to how they should engage with their local authority. This has been particularly concerning for parents since the publication of the Elective Home Education Departmental Guidance for Local Authorities (EHEDGLA), in April 2019.

Education Otherwise, in conjunction with the Centre for Personalised Education charity, has obtained advice from a Queen's Counsel (or QC, a title given to a senior barrister) in order to help us provide accurate information to parents. The QC we instructed specialises in public law and education law, and is a former part-time Chair of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal, and a current member of the Equality and Human Rights Commission's panel of counsel. The QC also trains lawyers and others in education and public law.

Education Otherwise is revising its information in line with the advice received from the QC. The revised information will be posted on the website when ready. In the meantime, but also as a matter of good practice, parents should of course always obtain their own legal advice if they have concerns over any issues.