Providing a suitable education for your child from home

Surrey County Council recognises and understands that Parents' Elective Home Education provision will vary greatly and reflect a variety of approaches and interests. These guidance notes will provide suggestions on different approaches to home education and how we evaluate what a suitable education is.

Do I need to be a teacher?

No. You need no formal qualifications whatsoever.

What do I have to teach? Do I have to follow the National Curriculum?

The education you provide has to be full time, efficient and suitable. You do not have to follow the National Curriculum, but you could find it helpful to use it as a framework, both for subjects to include and to get an idea of levels of achievement. You can obtain information about the National Curriculum, both Primary and Secondary, on the National Curriculum website that includes guidance and tools that can be downloaded.

If you intend to send your child to school in the future, then it would be wise to be aware of what is taught in school so he/she is not disadvantaged. There are many textbooks and workbooks based on the National Curriculum and these may be useful. You can also use the internet to find information and tools to help you teach your child at home.

How will I teach my child?

You might follow a timetable such as you would find in a school. Or choose to follow a form of 'discovery' education, where you exclusively follow the interests of your child. Or you might use a mixture of these methods.

We recognise there are many styles of teaching and learning and do not endorse any particular method. Our interest is in establishing that suitable education takes place. The Elective Home Education Inclusion Officers have put together a resource list for parents and you should be sent this as part of your welcome email when your child is first registered as being home educated. If you have not received this or would like another copy, please contact the Elective Home Education team via

You may find it helpful to talk to other parents who have chosen to educate their child or children at home. One of the most valuable resources for home educators is the experience of those doing the same, so a good starting point is to make contact with other home educators.

Learning styles

As a home educator you can choose the best aspects of any learning approach to create a curriculum that meets the needs of your child and family. There are different ways in which people learn and three styles are commonly identified:

  • Visual – to see things written down, through diagrams or pictures;
  • Auditory – through hearing and listening to words, rhythm and music;
  • Kinaesthetic – being physically involved by music, touch or practical experimentation.

Methods of teaching can also vary:

A direct approach, working alongside your child, teaching by instruction; Coaching whereby you demonstrate and give advice on possible methods of completing a given task.

Autonomous learning or deschooling where once the task is set the child works with support where needed.

Or you may prefer to combine the various approaches depending on the subject. Whatever style you use, it is always important to recognise the need to emphasise the continual development of skills in literacy and numeracy. See our minimal expectations guides.

A good curriculum also includes opportunities to develop social skills. Often, the local community offers activities, courses, workshops, clubs and societies that may be of interest.

Record keeping

Parents often find that the level of questions and content of a child's conversation demonstrates their level of understanding and if they are making progress. Other parents prefer to have a systematic way, through tests or other means of knowing their child is making progress at a pace appropriate to his/her ability.

You may find it useful to look at the National Curriculum Guidelines and our example minimum expectations to give you some idea of what your child is expected to be able to do at different stages or to guide you when planning the next steps in learning. Not every child will be at these levels some will be in advance, some at the level expected, some are working towards the levels. Our home education advisor can also discuss this with you and make suggestions on how to support your child's education.

It is desirable to record what has been learnt in order to make informed decisions about future areas of study and to be able to map progress.

However you choose to structure your child's learning and time, it is helpful to keep some records of their progress.

Records can take any form:

  • Reports and diaries
  • Examples of work (it is helpful if these are dated)
  • Photographs, drawings, recordings and so on.
  • Plans and programmes of work
  • Evidence of achievements and progress made. Any workbooks or textbooks can be placed alongside.
  • A reading record can be very useful, but production of recent texts read by the pupil will suffice, especially if supported in a general discussion on likes and dislikes regarding reading matter. Reading material does not always have to include fiction, as there are many who read illustrated reference/interest books containing much in the way of sophisticated vocabulary.

What happens if it appears suitable education is not being provided?

Under section 437(1) of the Education Act 1996 (on Office of Public Sector Information website), the Local Authority has a duty to intervene if it appears that parents are not providing a suitable education. Surrey County Council is committed to working in partnership with Parents to ensure that all home-educated children are receiving a suitable education that meets the requirements under Section 7 of the Education Act 1996.

What constitutes as a 'suitable' education should be considered on a case-by-case basis according to age, ability, aptitude and any special educational needs needs a child may have. Therefore, this may lead to variation regarding the reasons why an Local Authority may reach a decision that home education arrangements are either suitable or not suitable.

There may be a variety of reasons why the information/ evidence provided has not been deemed suitable by the local authority. This may include:

  • Parents/Carers share none or extremely limited information and/or only share resources which they may have simply copied from online sites.
  • The education provision described lacks sufficient detail and it is difficult to ascertain what education is actually being 'received' by the child.
  • Parents/Carers choose to only share a report of the work that is being covered by their child, without demonstrating how the provision referred to within the report is being 'received' by the child.
  • There is no, or very limited information regarding resources used internally and externally
  • There is no, or very limited detail of how the child's progress is being monitored or examples of work to demonstrate relevant progression
  • There is no clear academic or time structure and the education provision is not clear as being 'full-time'

The types of information and evidence you may wish to provide might consist of:

  • A timetable
  • Curriculum plan
  • Photographs
  • Workbooks
  • Progress reports
  • Dated work over a period
  • Conversations with the child/parent
  • Home visits

The local authority needs to be satisfied that appropriate education is taking place and therefore, it will be about building a full picture of the individual circumstances of each child. It is important to note that the above is for guidance and by way of example only and as such is not an exhaustive list. Each case is judged upon its own individual circumstances.

Where there are concerns about the suitability of the home education provision, a home visit will be offered with the aim of helping you overcome the difficulties within a mutually agreed timescale.

If, after an agreed timescale, the situation has not improved you should arrange for your child to return to school. Should you need help to find a school place, the Schools Admissions Team and the Inclusion Service will assist you.

If you decide to return your child to school after trying home education

If you change your mind about home educating your child, you must contact a school to request a place.

You can do so at any time, however, it cannot be guaranteed that there will be a place at the school previously attended.

Please see School admissions for more information about applying for a school place.

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