If your child is currently attending a mainstream school in England or Wales, all you need to do to start home education is deregister them from school. In order to do so you need to send a home education deregistration letter to the headteacher of the school they are attending. This should be a simple process, and indeed it was for us, however sometimes things don’t go completely as they should.
A note on language: In my posts, I refer to “homeschooling”. In the UK, the correct term for educating your child at home is “home Educating”, with homeschooling referring to a child doing work at home that has been set by school. I use the the term homeschooling in my posts because many people who are new to home educating will use the term homeschooling when searching online and I want to make sure they can find the information.
What the School Deregistration Letter Needs to say
It’s important that the letter you send is clear and references the relevant law. The letter should state that your child is now home educated in accordance with The Education Act 1996,Section 7.
You can use this school Deregistration Letter template if you like. Simply copy and paste the text into an email or document, add the specified information and send to the headteacher of the school.
You can send the Deregistration letter as an email attachment or a paper copy. It is useful to get a receipt if you hand in a paper letter or use recorded delivery if you send it by post. For emails you can turn read receipts on or ask for confirmation by reply.
If you have things to say to the school, be they good or bad, it’s best to do that separately from the deregistration letter. We had quite a lot to say so sent a separate email to the head of year.
If Your Child Attends a Special School
If your child is attending a special school you will need to contact the Local Authority to seek permission for them to removed from the special school. They will then convene a panel to make the decision. It’s important to note that what you are seeking is permission to remove them from the social school rather than permission to Home Educate.
You will need to demonstrate how you will meet the needs of your child that are set out in the Education health and Care Plan.
Timing of the Home Education Deregistration Letter
There is no need to give notice to the school before you deregister. While you can state a future date that you would like your child deregistered on, it’s usually best to just send the deregistraion letter on first day that the child won’t be attending school. This is because teacher’s may start to question your child about leaving, which may be uncomfortable for them.
What Happens Next
Once the school receives your instruction, your duties are completed. It is the school’s job to inform the local authority. There is no need to wait for a response, you are now a home educator!
Once informed the local authority may then contact you to, which could just be confirming that you are home educating or they may want an initial report on the education you are providing.
Possible Responses from the School
Unfortunately, many schools are not clear on the law around home education and the response you get varies from school to school. We were lucky, the school we deregistered from removed our child from roll immediately and informed the Local Authority straight away. They were in fact so efficient that we deregistered on a Monday and his place had been filled by the Friday.
Some schools have a policy, often driven by the local authority, of arranging a meeting with parents before they deregister. The stated aim of these meetings is usually to ensure that that the parent really wants to home educate and isn’t been encouraged by the school. In reality these meetings are often about trying to put parents off home educating. You are under no obligation to attend such a meeting unless you want to.
Some schools will tell you that you need to contact the Local Authority. That is their job and you can tell them that or simply ignore it.
Some schools will ask you to fill out a form. This is not required as the deregistration letter contains all the information that is needed, there is no need for them to have your reasons or plans.
If you have deregistered via an email the school might insist on a signed letter, it’s usually easiest to just provide a signed copy.
Sometimes schools don’t reply at all. We didn’t get a reply for weeks by which time we’d already heard from the local authority so knew it had been actioned. You don’t actually need a reply and as long as the school aren’t contacting you regarding absence you can just get on with home educating.
If the School Refuses to Deregister
Some schools/Local Authorities have a policy of a cooling off period. For example, they will wait ten days after the home education deregistraion letter is received before removing the child from the School roll. You can simply ignore these, you have done your legal duty.
Some schools will tell you that they need permission from the local authority in order to remove your child from roll. While legally this is not the case, it leaves schools in a very tricky position. While the Local Authority policy does not override the actual law, schools often won’t go against LA policy.
This isn’t usually a big issue as you can just wait and while the school might send you absence notifications, once your child is removed from roll it will be dated from the date on your deregistration letter and as such you can’t be fined. It can however be an issue if you the school is insisting on doing welfare checks on your child. If you are in this position I would advise contacting Education Otherwise for their expert advice.
If you have any other issues with deregistering, I’d suggest joining the Home Education For All Facebook group where you can get great advice.