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Home education

Photo: You can educate your child at home if you feel this is the best option

As the parent of a deaf child you have the right to educate your child at home if you feel this is the best option for you.

However, you must bear in mind that home schooling, or elective home education, is a considerable commitment.

What should I consider before home educating my child?

Whether your decision is planned or a reaction to a school-based issue, these are some of the things you might want to consider.

  • Providing plenty of opportunities to support language and communication.
  • Developing a curriculum which focuses on your child’s strengths and supports areas for development.
  • Creating a good listening and learning environment where you can be close to your child and keep background noise to a minimum.
  • Teaching to a flexible timetable where you can respond to the specific needs of your child, such as regular rest/listening breaks or implement therapies.
  • Providing your child with opportunities to spend time with peers and family members to develop and build on social skills.
What does the law say about home educating my child?

Education is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 16 but you can choose whether this is in a school or at home. Government guidelines state that as a parent, as long as you ensure your child receives a full-time education which is efficient and suitable, how and where you educate your child is up to you. Write to the headteacher or, if you live in Scotland, the local authority, if you plan to take your child out of school full-time. They can’t refuse without reason.

An efficient and suitable education is an education which is appropriate to your child’s age, ability and aptitude and takes into account their hearing loss and any other special educational need.

Home education is legal in all parts of the UK, however the law varies slightly depending on where in the UK you live. Find out more information:

Every authority should provide written information about elective home education that’s clear, accurate and sets out the legal position, roles and responsibilities of both the authority and parents. This information should be on the authority website or you can contact them to ask for a copy.

Local or education authorities can intervene if they’re concerned that a child is not receiving a suitable education at home or if they have any safeguarding concerns. This could result in the issue of a school attendance order, requiring your child to attend school.

In Wales, local authorities retain a duty to ensure that a child is receiving a sufficient education. They will get in touch with you if you wish to home school and can provide support around exams, careers and learning the Welsh language.

Should I take my child out of school because I’m unhappy with the support they’re receiving?

Before deciding to home school, you need to be sure you’re able to provide a suitable and efficient education.

If you’re considering taking your child out of school, it’s important to first talk to your headteacher about how your concerns can be addressed. Schools are required under the Equality Act 2010 (or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in Northern Ireland) to take reasonable steps to ensure your child is not disadvantaged in education because of their deafness or other needs.

Another option is flexi-schooling. Flexi-schooling or flexible school attendance is an arrangement between you and the school, where your child is registered at school in the normal way but attends on a part-time basis. The remainder of the time your child is educated at home. Flexi-schooling is generally a short-term measure to address a particular issue or concern. The decision and provision of flexi-schooling is an arrangement between you, the authority and the school.

For more information on your child’s rights in education, visit The Equality Act and your child’s education.

My child has a plan or statement setting out their special/additional educational needs. Can I home school?

Yes. If your child has an Education Health Care Plan (EHC) plan in England, Co-ordinated Support Plan (CSP) in Scotland or a statement of special educational needs in Wales and Northern Ireland, they can still be educated at home.

If they’re attending a special school arranged and paid for by the authority, you will need to get permission from the authority to de-register your child and this should then be followed by an annual review. Your child will still have a statutory plan but you’re not obliged to make or arrange the educational provision specified in the plan and neither is the authority. You can request a statutory assessment or reassessment of your child's needs in the same way as any child attending a school.

If the authority agrees that home education is the right provision for your child then they must arrange the special educational provision set out in the statutory plan, in partnership with you.

Do I need to have any qualifications to home school my child?

No, you don’t need to be a teacher or have any other special qualifications. However there’s an expectation from the authority that there will be:

  • consistent involvement from you and/or other significant carers
  • a recognition of your child’s needs, attitudes and aspirations
  • opportunities for your child to be stimulated by their learning experiences
  • access to the resources/materials required to provide the appropriate learning experiences.

If you choose to employ a private tutor, always interview any potential candidates, check qualification certificates and ask for professional references from someone who knows them. If the tutor is currently, or has recently been, employed in a school, ask for a reference from the headteacher and if the tutor is a qualified teacher, ask to see a copy of their General Teaching Council Registration. If the tutor is freelance or works as a supply teacher, and you live in England or Wales, ask to see their Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check. There are separate checks in place in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

See more information on criminal record checks.

Do I have to teach a National Curriculum and what about exams?

No, there’s no single right way to educate your child so it’s up to you and your child what, how and when you study. However, should you want to follow a national curriculum, download the guidance from where you live:

Our website also has information on educating a deaf child aged 5–11.

You can arrange for your child to take exams as an external candidate at various exam centres. You will need to pay for these and let the centre know any special arrangements your child will need in order to be able to take the exam, these are known as access arrangements. For more information on access arrangements, download our factsheet Access Arrangements for Your Child's Examinations.

What specialist support and equipment will my child continue to get?

The local authority may no longer provide services such as Teacher of the Deaf support, an educational psychologist or a speech and language therapist that is funded or employed by the local authority. Support for these services may continue if your child has a statement or plan.

Services and equipment which are provided to your child by the health service such as audiology, occupational therapy and physiotherapy will continue. Speech and language therapy may continue if it’s provided by the health service.

Radio aids are provided by the authority to schools and education settings. They may no longer be provided if you choose to home educate your child, unless the authority agrees otherwise. Our Technology Test Drive service allows you to borrow a wide range of products and try them out at home. There are also a range of grant-giving organisations which may provide funding for equipment.

What financial support can I expect?

By choosing to home school your child, you’ll also take financial responsibility for their education.

Funding may be available if your child has a statement or plan of their special educational or additional support needs and the authority agrees that home education is right for your child. The authority must then arrange the special or additional educational provision set out in the plan, with regard to the views, wishes and feelings of you and your child. In England, this may be in the form of a Personal Budget. See our resource Personal Budgets and Special Educational Needs (SEN): England for further information.

How can I make sure that my child has opportunities to socialise?

You’ll need to carefully consider how you can ensure your child still has plenty of opportunities to socialise, meet other children and make new friends.

The National Deaf Children’s Society can support you with this. We run events for families and deaf young people all over the UK. We have local deaf children's societies, which you can join to meet families with a deaf child in your local area. 

Local opportunities, such as home education groups, also provide important learning experiences, courses, visits and trips, as well as opportunities to develop friendships with other home-educated children and young people.

Where can I find more information?

UK:

The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) provides information on the UK exam system, links to resources and past papers and access arrangement for taking exams.

Wales:

Hwb is a digital learning platform which aims to give teachers access to a range of digital tools and resources to support the learning of all 3–19 year olds in Wales.

In Wales, authorities are required to provide independent counselling services for all 11–18 year olds in their area. Contact your authority if you’re interested in accessing the service.

Northern Ireland:

The Children’s Law Centre can offer advice on children’s rights for anyone under 18. Free advice line: 0808 808 5678.

If your child has a statement of special educational needs, The Special Educational Needs Advice Centre (SENAC) can advise on issues to do with maintaining and reviewing the statement. Advice line: 02890 795779 (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 10am-1pm)

Scotland:

The Scottish Qualifications Authority provides information and resources to parents on studying for and sitting exams.

Schoolhouse is Scotland’s national home education charity and is a source of independent information and support for anyone interested in home education.