Education is compulsory - school is optional

Approaches to HE

There are as many ways to home educate, as there are families home educating. The method of learning that you choose to adopt is entirely up to you and your child; you can use any approach that you consider to be suitable.

A family's approach to home education is likely to grow and evolve over time. It is important to realise that the law does not require you to have to have a perfect plan in place before you begin home education.

Alternative Approaches to Home Education

A ten or eleven-year-old girl writing or drawing

Education can be highly successful in many ways other than the approach that is necessary in school. Please visit our FAQ page on Educational Philosophies for more information.

The practice of most home educating families tends to fall somewhere between two 'ends' - structured and autonomous. However you choose to home-educate at first, you may find that your methods will change as you become more experienced and confident.


  • Structured: Some parents may wish to teach in a formal manner, using a fixed timetable of school hours and terms and a curriculum based on traditional school subjects, perhaps the national curriculum. If a return to school is likely in the future, many families prefer to plan their education in a similar way to school and with reference to the national curriculum for that reason. Sometimes a structured approach is the child's choice.
  • Autonomous: Other families take advantage of the fact that home-educated children do not have to follow the national curriculum or a timetable, allowing them to have far greater flexibility. They may choose an autonomous approach, allowing the child to determine the areas of study and to decide how, when and what to learn, using individual interests and a natural curiosity as a starting point. Children whose enthusiasm for learning has been seriously affected by school problems often benefit from this relaxed and child-centred approach.



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.