The laws on home education in Wales
Since 2010, there has been a 56 per cent increase in home education in Wales, with the county of Ceredigion having the highest number of home educated pupils. As a parent, it's your right to decide to home educate your child: the law says that 'parents of every child of compulsory school age [must] cause him or her to receive efficient full-time education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude, and to any special educational needs that they may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.'
Full-time education doesn't mean that you have to stick to school hours or terms. You don't need any teaching experience or qualifications to home educate your child, and you don't have to follow the Welsh curriculum or enter your child for the National Reading and Numeracy Tests.
Who do you have to notify if you want to home educate your child in Wales?
If your child is already at school, you must write to the head teacher to ask for their name to be removed from the register – if you don't do this, you may be pursued by the attendance officer. Once the school has received your request, they must remove your child from the school register immediately.
Some parents want to send their child to school some of the time, and home educate the rest of the time (known as flexi schooling). You have the legal option to request this, but the head (and usually the local education authority) need to be in agreement.
If your child isn’t at school yet but you have been offered a school place, you must formally remove your child’s name from the register by notifying the school.
If your child hasn’t started school and you haven’t applied for a place at school, you do not need to do anything. You don't need to notify anyone if you've decided to home educate because their current school has closed, if they've never attended a maintained school in that local authority area (e.g. if you've moved from another area) or if they're in between primary and secondary school.
If the local education authority is aware that your child isn't attending school, they may contact you to ask what provision you have made for your child’s education. You're not obliged to give them any details, although it can be useful to do so as there may be support available: for example, the Welsh government advises that it's good practice for your local authority to give you a named contact who's familiar with home education policies.
You can find a helpful guide to home education in Wales here.
What if your child has special educational needs?
If your child attends a special school, you will need permission from the local council before their name can be removed from the register. This is so the authority can ensure that you're able to meet your child's educational, health and care needs at home.
Providing evidence about your child's education
If you withdraw your child from school, it's likely that your local council will want to discuss your plans for providing a home education. The government suggests that they invite you to meet with an education officer, either with or without your child, at home or at another location. In this meeting, you'll make a plan for any future contact between you and the local education authority; they should also write a report of what was discussed at the meeting and send you a copy.
There's no obligation to meet with the local authority, or to give them information about how you plan to home educate your child, but if you obstruct their enquiries they may assume you're failing to provide a suitable education and issue an attendance order, which could end up with your child being sent back to school. For that reason, it's worth cooperating with the authority and compromising on what contact they have – for example, you could set out your plans in writing, rather than having a meeting. There are also other benefits in working with the authority: they may be able to put you in touch with local study groups, for instance.
Do you have to be inspected?
This isn’t required by law but the Welsh Assembly recommends local authorities make contact with you annually to make sure you are providing an adequate education. The frequency and type of monitoring will be discussed in your initial meeting with your education officer and confirmed in writing.
Does the process vary across Wales?
Yes – there are guidelines provided by the Welsh Assembly but, ultimately, local education authorities have their own good practice recommendations for how they manage home education across their area.