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Withdrawing your child from school

England and Wales

If you child has attended school, you will need to deregister them. It sounds potentially complicated but it’s not. You just write a letter to the head teacher of your child’s school informing them that as of a specific date, your child will no longer be attending said school. Ask the head to remove your child’s name from the register. This letter could be sent by recorded delivery, hand delivered or emailed. Often the head will invite you to a meeting to discuss your choice but you’re under no obligation to attend nor do you need the headteacher’s permission to deregister your child in most cases.

There are two possible starting points to home-schooling;
1. Your child has never enrolled in a school i.e. they’re a pre-schooler
2. Your child is currently enrolled in a school.

If your child has never attended a school, it’s simple, you don’t need to inform anyone, you just carry on with their education.

In England and Wales, the only time a head teacher’s permission is required is if your child attends a special educational needs school; however, by law their consent should not be “unreasonably withheld”.

Miss Amy, teacher and homeschooling writer


When a head teacher deregisters a child, it is their obligation to inform the local authority.

The local authority will get in touch with you and most local authorities have an elective home-school officer. Whilst this person is able to support you, you’re under no obligation to meet with them.

Visit the following sites for additional information:

Scotland and Northern Ireland

The only time a head teacher’s permission is required is if your child attends a special educational needs school however by law their consent should not be “unreasonably withheld”.

For more information for Scotland see the following links:

For more information for Northern Ireland

Homeschooling and SEND learners

If your child is attending a special education school, the head teacher’s permission is required to remove them from the school’s register. However, by law their consent should not be “unreasonably withheld”. The purpose of this restriction is to protect more vulnerable children and try to ensure their needs are met.

It may be beneficial if you wish for your child to return to school at any point because the statement will document your child’s needs to a future school. The time from request of a statement to it being carried out is usually around six months.

As it is your right to request a statement, it is also the local authorities’ right to also request a statement; you cannot legally stop this, but you can appeal against the content of the statement when it is written. Independent Parental Special Education Advice (IPSEA) can help with these issues.

If you child was receiving speech and language therapy, occupational therapy or physiotherapy, the LA may or may not still provide it. If they remove any provision you can ask for therapy to be arranged via your GP.

If you need further advice, we have a dedicated SEND hub, which is written by qualified SENCos and provides advice and guidance on everything from SEND diagnosis’ to recommended books for learners with SPLDs.

You may also find the following links helpful;

What evidence needs to be provided?

The local authority has an obligation to keep track of those children who are home educated. They may contact you at some point to enquire about your home education. This enquiry should be very broad, not asking you to provide schemes of work or a curriculum, or even ask to meet with you or your child. They don’t have a responsibility in law to do this unless they think that you are not providing a “suitable and sufficient” education.

Government Guidelines on Home Education in England state: ‘The responsibility for a child’s education rests with his or her parents. An “efficient” and “suitable” education is not defined in the Education Act 1996 but “efficient” has been broadly described in case law as an education that ‘achieves that which it sets out to achieve’.

The Welsh Guidelines ask for ‘an indication that parents have thought through their reasons for home educating and what they hope to achieve’. So it’s worth describing what you are setting out to achieve; if you achieve your aims you will be judged to be efficient. This is what is meant by an ‘educational philosophy’, which sets out your beliefs and values and states what you want for your child as they grow up.

So, who monitors you over time? The answer is nobody; Ofsted won’t inspect you. You could buy a curriculum or design your own. You can explore different ways of your child continuing to socialise with others. In fact, there’s a huge amount of freedom in what you decide to do which is both liberating and challenging.For more advice on how to create an education philosophy, specific lesson plans and more, check out our homeschooling hub!

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