Is home-education legal? Isn’t school compulsory? I’ve heard about parents being taken to court because their children didn’t attend school!
The law does not require school attendance; it requires educational provision. Here’s what it says:
Section 24 Education Act 2001
Duty of parents of children of compulsory school age
It is the duty of the parent of every child of compulsory school age to cause him to receive suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.
The Department shall enforce the duty imposed by subsection
In this Part
“school”, in relation to a child of compulsory school age who has attained the age of 14 years and for whom education is provided at a college, includes a college;
“suitable education”, in relation to a child, means efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he may have.
Home-education is legal throughout the United Kingdom and Isle of Man. The prosecutions you may have heard about involve truancy, which is a a completely separate issue. Truancy involves children who are registered at school but who do not attend – by definition, a child who is not registered at school cannot be a truant.
You will find more information about the law and education in the Isle of Man on our Getting Started page.
Do we need permission to home-educate?
You don’t need anyone’s permission to educate your child outside school. If your child is registered at a school, you must inform the proprietor (that’s usually the principal) in writing that your child’s name should be removed from the register. Within three months of deregistering your child, you must notify the DESC. Some teachers and principals believe that you need permission to home-educate, but this is not the case. The only exception is when your child is registered at a Special School. (See our de-registration page for more info.)
Will I get any help from the Department for Education, Sport and Culture?
It’s unlikely. Few home-educators find that the DESC is able to provide any assistance, and certainly there is no financial help available (though home-education does not need to be costly, so that shouldn’t put anyone off).
Will we have home visits or be monitored in some way?
There is nothing in Manx law which says you must have home visits, provide samples of your children’s work or allow anyone to meet your children. There seems to be a great deal of variation in how home-educators are treated by the DESC. You may be told that the DESC have a legal duty to monitor your educational provision or visit your home, but there is nothing in law which states this.
In England and Wales, case law has established that if it appears to a Local Education Authority that no educational provision is being made, the LEA has the right to make informal enquiries; however this does not necessarily mean home visits or inspections of any kind. You can read these guidelines here.
No guidelines or case law exist in the Isle of Man; it does, however, seem reasonable that similar guidelines should apply (especially since the relevant legislation is almost word-for-word the same as that for England and Wales).
What if my child has a statement of special needs?
You can still home-educate. If your child attends a Special School, you may need to get permission to deregister him or her; however such permission should not be withheld without good reason. If your child has a statement and attends an ordinary primary school, you can simply deregister him or her.
Does my child have to take SATS?
No. SATS are intended to assess the educational provision made by schools, not the learning of any individual child, and thus are unnecessary for home-educated children. Many home-educators feel that not having to put their children through the pressure of SATS is a great advantage.