Legal Information for Home Educators

Skip to:
European Convention on Human Rights
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Education Act 1996
Education Act 2002
English case law
Non-statutory guidance: England
Elective home education: Welsh government guidance
Home education guidance: Scotland
Other sites for information

Human Rights legislation

European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) Human Rights Act

Article 2 Protocol 1

No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of the parents to ensure such education and teaching is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)

Full text

  • Article 28
    States Parties recognize the right of the child to education…
  • Article 29/1
    States Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:

    • (a) The development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential;
    • (b) The development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations;
    • (c) The development of respect for the child’s parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living, the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or her own;
    • (d) The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin;
    • (e) The development of respect for the natural environment.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Full text

Article 26

  • Everyone has the right to education
  • education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms
  • parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Education Law

Education Act 1996

Table of contents

Section 7

The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable

  • (a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and
  • (b) to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

Section 437(1)

If it appears to a local education authority that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, they shall serve a notice in writing on the parent requiring him to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is receiving such education.

Section 437(3)

If –

  • (a) a parent on whom a notice has been served under subsection (1) fails to satisfy the local education authority, within the period specified in the notice, that the child is receiving suitable education, and
  • (b) in the opinion of the authority it is expedient that the child should attend school, the authority shall serve on the parent an order (referred to in this Act as a “school attendance order”), in such form as may be prescribed, requiring him to cause the child to become a registered pupil at a school named in the order.

Education Act 2002

Table of contents

Section 175(1)

A local education authority shall make arrangements for ensuring that the functions conferred upon them in their capacity as a local education authority are exercised with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.

(NB: this does not give local authorities powers to enter the homes of, or otherwise see, children for the purposes of monitoring the provision of elective home education.).

English case law

Harrison and Harrison v Stevenson appeal 1981, Worcester Crown Court (unreported)
The Judge defined the outcomes of a suitable education as

  • to prepare the children for life in a modern civilised society; and
  • to enable them to achieve their full potential

R v Secretary of State for 35 Education, ex parte Talmud Torah Machzikei Hadass School Trust, judicial review 12 April 1985.
Mr Justice Woolf: Education is suitable if it primarily equips a child for life within the community of which he is a member, rather than the way of life in the wider country as a whole, as long as it does not foreclose the child’s options in later years to adopt some other form of life if he wishes to do so.

R v Surrey Quarter Sessions Appeals Committee, ex parte Tweedie 1963
Lord Parker: an education authority should not, as a matter of policy, insist on inspection in the home as the only method of satisfying themselves that the children were receiving full time education.

Non-statutory guidance

Elective Home Education: Guidelines for Local Authorities – PDF

School Attendance 2016 – PDF

Schools should not seek to persuade parents to educate their children at home as a way of avoiding excluding the pupil or because the pupil has a poor attendance record. Schools and local authorities should not seek to prevent parents from educating their children outside the school system.

Elective home education: Welsh government

Download page

Home education guidance: Scotland

Web page

Other sites for information

Ed YourselfHome Education UKHeadhub