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Alternative Education Choices

Parents must make sure their children receive a suitable full-time education if they are of compulsory school age, but this does not mean all children are educated in a school setting. Some children are educated at home because their parents have chosen this for them.

Other children learn at home because they cannot attend school due to a particular reason, such as ill health, or because it would be inappropriate for their special educational provision to be made in a school or college setting.

Elective Home Education

Some parents choose to home educate their child. This is sometimes called ‘home schooling’ but is more accurately known as Elective Home Education (EHE).

The SEN and Disability Code of Practice acknowledges this, stating at paragraph 10.35 that, “Local authorities should not assume that because the provision being made by parents is different from that which was being made […] in school that the provision is necessarily unsuitable. Local authorities should also consider using their power to help parents make suitable provision.”

EHE with an EHCP

The LA no longer has a legal duty to secure any of the special educational provision in the child or young person’s EHC plan if they are being home-educated. This is because the LA is likely to decide that the parents are making their own suitable alternative arrangements.

However, the LA should not stop an EHC plan because the child or young person is being home educated. The LA must also still review the plan annually to assure that the provision set out in the EHCP continues to be appropriate and that their special educational needs continues to be met. The LA must use the same legal process to review the EHC plan, even if the child or young person is being home educated.

Parents who wish to home educate their child do not need school’s permission, but should write to

  • the school and explain that they intend to educate their child at home.
  • the LA and ask it to amend Section I of the EHC plan to state that the child is being educated at home. Parents of children at special schools will also need to ask the LA to agree to their name being taken off from the school roll.

EHE Without an EHCP

Parents may take their children out of school to home educate them, and they do not need the permission of the school or the LA to do so however you would need to inform them. Under the law, they have monitoring and welfare responsibilities to your child and it would be necessary to meet with you and your child/ YP at least once a year.

You can register for Elective Home Education here.

You can still make a request for an EHC needs assessment whilst your child is EHE, the LA does not have a legal duty to provide special educational provision in this situation, the only responsibility is to identify SEN.

Education Other than at School

EOTAS stands for Education Otherwise Than at School. It is educational provision that meets the needs of children and young people who, for whatever reason, are unable to attend a mainstream or special school.

For some children or young people, school or college settings may not be suitable; they may have been excluded, they may have mental health problems or medical reasons that affect their ability to attend a school or college setting or the school(s) they have attended may not have been able to meet their needs.

If it agrees, the local authority (“LA”) can arrange for any required special educational provision to be delivered somewhere else, for example at home. The LA must arrange and pay for that provision.

EOTAS is different to elective home education. With an EOTAS package the LA is responsible for arranging and paying for the provision. If a parent chooses to home educate their child, the LA is not responsible for meeting any of the costs or providing any support.  

Some examples of EOTAS provision could be:

  • Online schooling
  • Tuition at home
  • Tuition or training at a specialist centre
  • Hospital schooling
  • Therapeutic interventions
  • Life skills training