Getting Started – Is Home Education Legal?

Thinking of home edding or just getting started? Here are some essentials you need to know and some links to get you going.

The Legalities

If you decide to home educate you need to be aware of the law in the Isle of Man.

It is broadly similar to the law in the UK but does give parents the duty to inform the Department of Education, Sport and Culture if you home educate. This is the the notification form.

If your child is not enrolled in a school, you can complete the notification form and begin your HE journey. If your child is currently attending school, you will need to de-register before you can begin home educating. To do so, write the Headteacher and ask for your child to be removed from the school roll as you have decided to educate her otherwise than at school. When you complete the form for the DESC, you don’t need to fill in the extra info unless you wish to. You just need to give the factual details of name, address, date of birth.

You should also make sure you know the law relating to a parent’s duty to educate their children. This can be found in the Education Act 2001 part 3 and clause 5

As Manx education law is based on that of England, the Elective Home Education Guidelines from England are a good source of information so that you know your rights and responsibilities.

Particularly useful is this information adapted from the English guidelines:

Providing​ ​a​ ​full-time​ ​education

3.13 Parents are required to provide an efficient, full-time education suitable to the age, ability and aptitude of the child. There is currently no legal definition of “full-time”. Children normally attend school for between 22 and 25 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year, but this measurement of “contact time” is not relevant to elective home education where there is often almost continuous one-to-one contact and education may take place outside normal “school hours”. The type of educational activity can be varied and flexible.

Home educating parents are not required to:

  • Teach the National Curriculum.
  • Provide a broad and balanced education.
  • Have a timetable.
  • Have premises equipped to any particular standard.
  • Set hours during which education will take place.
  • Have any specific qualifications.
  • Make detailed plans in advance.
  • Observe school hours, days or terms.
  • Give formal lessons.
  • Mark work done by their child.
  • Formally assess progress or set development objectives.
  • Reproduce school type peer group socialisation.
  • Match school-based, age-specific standards.

3.14 It is important to recognise that there are many, equally valid, approaches to educational provision….

3.15 In their consideration of parents’ provision of education at home, local authorities may reasonably expect the provision to include the following characteristics:

  • Consistent involvement of parents or other significant carers – it is expected that parents or significant carers would play a substantial role, although not necessarily constantly or actively involved in providing education.
  • Recognition of the child’s needs, attitudes and aspirations.
  • Opportunities for the child to be stimulated by their learning experiences.
  • Access to resources/materials required to provide home education for the child – such as paper and pens, books and libraries, arts and crafts materials, physical activity, ICT and the opportunity for appropriate interaction with other children and other adults.

So according to the law, you are free to educate your child as you see fit, there is no specified curriculum, you can choose whatever suits your child, so long as you are providing an education that is full time (there is no legal definition of full time, so you do not have to follow ‘school hours’ or school holidays) and suitable which is defined as ‘suitable to her age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs she may have.’

It is the parent’s’ responsibility to educate their child. However, most parents delegate this responsibility and apply for a school place. Taking direct responsibility means that the Department no longer has any input unless there is evidence that the parent is not fulfilling their legal duty to provide a suitable education, in which case it has a duty to investigate.

You are no longer entitled to services provided by the DESC. As such all costs for your child’s education will be met by you and you will make all arrangements. But you are not alone. There is a great deal of support in the home educating community both here and across with world with Facebook groups, forums and websites all providing support, guidance, ideas and suggestions.