Home education and the law in Northern Ireland
The relevant law says:
The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he might have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.
Giving notice of your plans to home educate in Northern Ireland
If you're planning to start home educating as soon as your child reaches compulsory school age, you don't even need to apply for a school place for them. Simply disregard any forms that you're sent.
If your child attends a special school you'll need to notify your local education authority (EA) of your intention to remove them from school. Technically, they can refuse, but in practice this is just a formality.
Free home education planning pack & resources
- Guidance, templates and advice to get you started
- Practical tips from experts and parents
- How to establish a routine and set learning goals
Home education if you're divorced
Providing evidence about home education
- A written report
- Providing samples of your child's work
- Arranging a home visit from an EA officer, with or without your child being present
- Arranging a meeting with an EA officer outside the home.
Will you have to be inspected, and if so, by whom?
At the moment, EAs have no legal authority to insist on visiting you at home or making you attend monitoring meetings outside the home. The campaign group Home Education Northern Ireland (HEdNI) advises that although you shouldn't ignore any communications from the EA, you can respond however you see fit – for example, by providing a written report about how you're educating your child rather than agreeing to a visit.
If the EA is concerned that you're not providing a suitable education, or has worries about the welfare of a child, they can serve a School Attendance Order which compels you to send your child to school or face a fine.