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Using this handbook

1.1 This guide provides information for parents and carers who are considering educating their child at home and those who are already doing so.

1.2 The definition of a parent or carer for the purposes of this guide includes any person who is the natural parent of the child, any person who has parental responsibility or any person who has care of the child (section 576 Education Act 1996).

1.3 This guidance contains hyperlinks. The Welsh Government is not responsible for, and cannot guarantee the accuracy of, information on sites that it does not manage, nor should the inclusion of a hyperlink be taken in itself to mean endorsement by the Welsh Government of the site, the site owner or any specific content to which it points.

What home education is

1.4 Home education is a term used to describe when parents and carers educate their children at home instead of sending them to school. In Wales, as with the rest of the UK, education is compulsory, but school is not.

1.5 You do not need permission from the local authority to home educate (unless your child is registered at a special school). You do not have to follow a curriculum, although it may be a useful reference. What learning opportunities you provide and how your child learns are up to you, providing that the education you provide is ‘full-time’, ‘suitable’ and ‘efficient’.

Full-time’, ‘suitable’, and ‘efficient’ education

1.6 The courts have provided guidance on what is considered ‘suitable’ and ‘efficient’ education. Education is ‘efficient’ if it is ‘achieving that which it sets out to achieve’ and it is ‘suitable’ if it ‘prepares the child for life in a modern civilised society and enables the child to achieve their full potential’ (Harrison and Harrison v Stevenson [1981]). This means that education should aim at enabling the child, when grown up, to function as an independent citizen beyond the community in which they were brought up, if that is the choice made in later life by the child. Education must be suitable to the age, ability and aptitudes of the child, and any additional learning needs (or special educational needs) they may have.

1.7 There is currently no legal definition of what ‘full-time’ education is. For home educating families, there can be almost continuous one-to-one or small group contact and education may take place outside normal ‘school hours’. The question of whether education for a specific child is full-time will depend on the circumstances of each case, but as parents and carers you should at least be able to quantify and demonstrate the amount of time for which your child is being educated. Education which is clearly not occupying a significant proportion of a child’s life will probably not meet the ‘full-time’ requirement.

Why parents and carers home educate

1.8 A parent or carer’s decision to home educate their child may be influenced by a number of reasons including their philosophical, spiritual or religious beliefs. Parents and carers may also feel that they are better able to meet their children’s individual needs and learning style than a school.

Support if you feel pressured to home educate

1.9 It is essential that deciding to home educate is your choice. You should never be encouraged by the school to home educate because of your child’s poor behaviour, poor attainment or poor attendance. This is especially so if you are influenced to home educate to avoid permanent exclusion or prosecution due to non-school attendance.

1.10 A headteacher who believes that permanent exclusion may be necessary should use the mandatory procedures or discuss the possibility of a ‘managed move’ to another school with you. When a child has also had more than 15 days fixed-term exclusion in a school term or has been permanently excluded there is also a requirement on the local authority to arrange education other than at school (EOTAS) such as education in a pupil referral unit (PRU) if full-time mainstream school is not suitable for your child. For more information, please see the ‘Exclusion from schools and pupil referral units’ guidance.

1.11 This practice (of being asked to home educate your child), sometimes called ‘off-rolling’, is unacceptable, and if pressure of this sort is put on you by any school to home educate you should inform the local authority.

1.12 If you genuinely believe that your child’s current school is not suitable, then you should also discuss with the local authority what alternatives might be available before taking any decision to home educate your child.

1.13 You can also contact the Children’s Commissioner for Wales’ Investigation and Advice Service. This service is free and confidential, offers individual advice and investigates individual cases. It’s there as a source of help and support if children and young people or those who care for them feel that a child has been treated unfairly.

1.14 If you have exhausted all other routes, you may also wish to get in touch with Estyn, who can help direct you to the relevant complaints process.

Questions to consider before deciding to home educate

1.15 Home educating your child is a decision which should not be taken lightly. It will mean a major commitment of your time, energy and money. If you choose to home educate your children you must be prepared to assume full financial responsibility, including bearing the costs of any public examination. It is especially important that you consider the nature of the education you intend to provide for your child before you begin to educate them at home. For example, you should think about the areas of learning and experience you will provide and whether they will allow your child to reach their potential, now and in the future, including whether your child wishes to sit public examinations such as GCSEs. It is important to consider questions such as:

  • is your child positive about the suggestion of home education?
  • are you convinced it is the best option for your child?
  • do you have the time to devote to your child’s education on a full-time basis?
  • do you have the ability to help your child learn effectively?
  • will you be able to educate your child to the required level if they want to take examinations?
  • are you able to provide the necessary resources?
  • do you have other support available?
  • are there opportunities for physical exercise?
  • will social experiences with other children be available?
  • are you sure home education is your choice?

What to do if you decide to educate your child at home

1.16 If your child is in school, you should write to the headteacher notifying them of your intention to take responsibility for your child’s education and to remove them from the register. See Annex A for a model letter to use. The headteacher will then remove your child’s name from the register and notify the local authority. If you simply remove your child from school without informing them in writing (verbally informing the school is not enough) you could be prosecuted for their non-attendance.

1.17 If your child has never attended school, no notification is required. However, we strongly recommend contacting your local authority to let them know you are educating your child at home so they can get in touch and offer you support.

What to do if your child has an individual development plan (IDP) or a statement of special educational needs (SEN)

1.18 The same procedure applies if your child has an IDP or statement of SEN and attends a mainstream school.

1.19 However, if your child attends a special school, you will need to obtain permission from the local authority before removing them from the school roll and asking the local authority to amend your child’s statement or review their IDP.

1.20 The local authority will continue to hold an annual review for the duration of the IDP or statement, which will include whether the wording of the plan is still appropriate and whether it needs to remain in place. The right of appeal to the Education Tribunal for Wales or the Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales still applies.

1.21 Parents and carers of a home educated child who does not have an IDP or statement of SEN may ask the local authority to decide (section 13 of the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 (‘the 2018 Act')) whether their child has an additional learning need (ALN). If the local authority decides that the child has ALN, it must prepare an IDP for the child (section 14 of the 2018 Act).

1.22 For information on accessing ALN or SEN services, see paragraphs 9.21 and 9.22.

What to do if you would like a flexi-schooling arrangement

1.23 Flexi-schooling is an arrangement where, following a formal request from you and with the approval of the headteacher at the school, a child spends some part of the week attending school and the rest of it being educated at home. It is important to note that flexi-schooling is not home education. In such arrangements, the child will always continue to remain on the school roll. This may be a better alternative to home education if you wish to educate your child at home but cannot or do not want to do so full-time.

1.24 You are fully entitled to ask schools about possible arrangements for flexi-schooling. There is, however, no entitlement to flexi-schooling and the decision to agree it or not rests entirely with the headteacher. If the headteacher agrees with your request, then the days that the child is educated at home will be recorded as authorised absence. If a school decides not to agree such an arrangement, there is no formal appeal process.

Rights and responsibilities

Rights of the child

2.1 Article 28 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) provides that children and young people have the right to education no matter who they are.

2.2 The Children Act 2004 is clear in its expectation that children and young people will be involved in decisions about them, and that age-appropriate weight will be given to their views. Where they are of sufficient age and mental ability it is important that they should have the opportunity to have their views heard and taken into account in decisions affecting their health, education and welfare.

2.3 Article 12 of the UNCRC requires states to provide a right for children to express their views and for due weight to be given to those views, in accordance with the age and maturity of the child. This does not give children authority over you, and a decision to educate a child at home is a matter for you. You should, however, consider whether home education is realistically possible in your family’s particular circumstances and whether your child is happy to be educated in this way.

Rights and responsibilities of the parent or carer

2.4 You have a right to educate your children from your own philosophical, spiritual or religious standpoint. The Human Rights Act 1998, Article 2 (Protocol 1) states that ‘No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.’

2.5 This means you can choose whether to educate your child at home or to send them to school. Most parents and carers choose to educate their children by sending them to school, where the state will take on financial responsibility for the child’s education. Others choose to home educate instead. Parents and carers who do so must therefore be prepared to assume full financial responsibility for their child’s education. However, the right to home education is not absolute. It is conditional on you providing your child with a full-time, ‘efficient’ and ‘suitable’ education (see paragraph 1.6 of this document), as per section 7 of the Education Act 1996, which states:

‘The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable

  • (a) to his age, ability, aptitude, and
  • (b) to any special educational needs … he may have either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.’

2.6 A child becomes of compulsory school age from the first of the following dates (31 August, 31 December or 31 March) which occurs after they become 5 years old (or if the fifth birthday falls on one of those dates, on that day). The child remains so until the last Friday of June in the academic year in which they become 16. Children may also be educated at home in order to participate in education and training until the age of 18.

Responsibilities of the local authority

2.7 Section 436A of the Education Act 1996 provides that:

‘A local authority must make arrangements to enable them to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children in their area who are of compulsory school age but:

  • (a) are not registered pupils at a school, and
  • (b) are not receiving suitable education otherwise than at a school.’

2.8 This means local authorities must make arrangements to identify children not receiving a suitable education.

2.9 The courts have established that local authorities can make informal enquiries of parents and carers for details of the educational provision for their child (Phillips v Brown [1980]). While you are under no duty to comply with these enquiries, it would be sensible to do so. In the absence of any information about the education provided, the local authority will have to determine whether it appears that you are in breach of your responsibility to cause your child to receive a suitable, full-time and efficient education.

2.10 Statutory guidance has been developed to assist local authorities to carry out their duty to ensure children receive a suitable education. As well as providing clarification on the characteristics of a suitable education, the new statutory guidance reinforces the levers available to local authorities to use when they determine that a suitable education is not being provided. The statutory guidance also clarifies the support local authorities could make available to home educators in their area.

2.11 In order for a local authority to satisfy itself of the suitability of education provided by the parents or carers it is not unreasonable for the local authority to see and communicate with the child. Local authorities will need to bear in mind that parents and carers will have detailed knowledge of how their child is progressing and that their views and opinion on the progress of their child should be sought and given sufficient weight when assessing the suitability of education. The views of the child about their education should also be sought and given appropriate weight in local authorities’ considerations.

2.12 The individual circumstances of each child and their family should inform decisions about when to see a child. Such a meeting does not have to take place in the home; it can take place in a mutually agreed location. The local authority is expected to make every reasonable effort and to be accommodating when arranging these meetings, which are an opportunity for local authorities to discuss the education provided and any support the family may need. Parents and Gillick competent children are not, however, obliged to meet with the local authority and are free to decline a meeting if they so wish. (A child can make their own decisions when they have sufficient understanding and intelligence to be capable of making up their own mind on the matter requiring decision (Gillick v West Norfolk and Wisbech Area Health Authority [1985] UKHL 7).)

What will happen if it appears you’re not providing a suitable education

2.13 If the local authority is not reassured that you are providing a suitable education, due to, for example, a lack of information provided by you or the information you have provided does not make it clear that the education is suitable and efficient, the local authority will continue to engage with you to provide that information.

2.14 If the local authority, having made all reasonable attempts through discussions with you, remains unsatisfied that the education you are providing is suitable and efficient, they will follow formal processes outlined in legislation.

2.15 Section 437(1) Education Act 1996 states that ‘If it appears to a local education authority that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, they shall serve a notice in writing on the parent requiring him to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is receiving such education.’ (Section 437(2) of the Education Act 1996 states that the period set out in the notice must be at least 15 days, beginning with the day the notice was served.)

2.16 This means that if the local authority continues to have concerns, and therefore considers it necessary that the child should attend school, it must serve a school attendance order (SAO) on the parent or carer.

2.17 An SAO is an order issued on behalf of the local authority requiring the child to become a registered full-time pupil at the school named on the SAO. If you wish, you can choose a different school to the one named in the SAO letter. However, the school must be suitable to the child’s needs and must have agreed to offer your child a place. In this case, the SAO will be changed to name the school chosen by you.

2.18 An SAO must be served after all reasonable steps have been taken to try to resolve the situation. At any stage following the issue of the SAO, parents and carers may present evidence to the local authority that they are now providing an appropriate education and apply to have the SAO revoked. If the local authority refuses to revoke the SAO, parents and carers can choose to refer the matter to the Welsh Ministers. If the local authority prosecutes the parents or carers for not complying with the SAO, then it will be for a court to decide whether or not the education being provided is suitable and efficient. The court can revoke the SAO if it is satisfied that the parent or carer is fulfilling their duty. It can also revoke the SAO where it imposes an education supervision order (ESO) (see paragraph 2.20 for more information).

2.19 For more information on SAOs please see the All Wales Attendance Framework.

2.20 The SAO process should look as follows.

  1. Local authority issues a notice informing the parents or carers that it appears that their child is not receiving a suitable education, either due to concerns about the education itself or because of a lack of information about the home education being provided.
  2. If the family decides not to challenge the authority, there should be sufficient time (15 days from the date the notice is served) for the family to address the authority’s concerns, either by changing the delivery of home education or by providing additional information about the home education programme.
  3. If the family does not address the authority’s concerns, the local authority must serve a notice of intention to issue an SAO.
  4. After receiving the notice of intention, the family can either provide information about home education, or challenge the authority’s view that education is not taking place.
  5. If the local authority is still concerned, it may proceed to issue an SAO. At any point in the proceedings the family can cause the SAO to be halted by giving evidence or otherwise demonstrating to the local authority that the child is receiving education at home.
  6. Once the SAO has been issued, if the parents or carers do not register the child at the named school, the local authority may choose to prosecute.
  7. The case will then go to the magistrates’ court, where the parents or carers are no longer dealing with the local authority. This is another chance to show that education is being provided. The parents or carers may be convicted or acquitted. If the former, the parent or carer will be liable for a fine ("not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale"). The local authority must also consider whether it would be appropriate to apply for an ESO (see paragraph 2.17) in respect of the child.

2.21 If a parent or carer fails to comply with an SAO, a local authority must consider whether it would be appropriate to make an application for an ESO in respect of the child (see section 447 of the Education Act 1996).

2.22 An ESO is an order granted in the family proceedings court requiring you and your child to follow directions made in the ESO. An ESO makes the local authority responsible for advising, supporting and giving ‘directions’ to the supervised child and their parents or carers in such a way as to ensure the child is suitably educated.

2.23 Once the ESO is served parents and carers have a duty to comply with the directions. If parents and carers fail to comply the supervising officer will issue a warning and discuss the directions fully with them again. If parents and carers still fail to comply they may be prosecuted in the magistrates’ court and may incur a fine or other penalty.

How to evidence satisfactory education provision

2.24 The local authority has to be satisfied that the education that is being provided is suitable for the ‘age, ability, aptitude and any special educational needs that your child may have’. The evidence you present is looked at it in this light. There are many different approaches to providing home education. For example, some parents and carers feel that their child will learn through experience, with the educator as a helper and guide, using the child’s experience as a basis for learning. Other parents and carers choose to educate their children in a way that mirrors a school timetable, with areas of learning and experience taught in a more formal way and with a clear syllabus that may include targets for their children to achieve.

2.25 The choice of philosophy is for you to make and may change over time. It is your responsibility to provide examples that clearly demonstrate the suitability of your child’s education provision.

2.26 In evidencing the suitability of educational provision, you may, for example, provide this information in the following ways:

  • information sent by email as an attachment
  • your child showing some of their work or talking about their learning
  • original work
  • photocopies of written work
  • photographs
  • artwork
  • scrapbooks
  • musical and sporting achievements (certificates)
  • a diary of events
  • CD recordings
  • using digital media
  • websites contributed to or created by your family
  • a written report

Points of clarification

Qualifications and experience

3.1 You don’t need to be a teacher to home educate, and you do not need any specific qualifications.

Following a curriculum when home educating

3.2 There is no obligation to follow a curriculum or the same approaches as a school, but you might find this helpful as a framework when deciding what areas of learning and experience to include and how to assess your child’s achievement. For example, Curriculum for Wales seeks to allow for a broadening of learning and to promote a more flexible approach to prepare children and young people to thrive in the future.

3.3 There is also no obligation to have rooms or premises equipped to a particular standard and the days and terms do not need to match mainstream school (but the education provided must be ‘full-time’ as outlined in paragraph 1.7). Likewise, there is no need to be registered with the Welsh Government or to be inspected by Estyn.

3.4 However, local authorities can expect to see:

  • consistent involvement of parents and carers
  • a recognition of the child’s needs, attitudes and aspirations
  • opportunities for the child to be stimulated by their learning experiences
  • access to resources and materials required to provide home education for the child

3.5 Equally, the education you provide should:

  • enable your child to acquire new knowledge and make progress according to their ability to increase their understanding and develop their skills in the areas of learning and experience being delivered
  • foster your child’s intellectual, physical and creative skills and the ability to think and learn for themselves
  • demonstrate appropriate knowledge and understanding of areas of learning and experience being delivered
  • put in place a framework to measure your child’s progress regularly and thoroughly to be able to plan your education provision suitably

Ways you can educate your child

3.6 Home education may reflect a wide range of approaches, depending on what works best for the child. Equally, the education provided can vary over time and by area of learning and experience. Over the course of a year, home education may be more structured throughout winter and more responsive to the weather or local opportunities during the summer. Some area of learning and experience like mathematics and numeracy may be delivered through a structured approach, while others like humanities through autonomous projects.

3.7 When children are educated at home, less formal planning than that normally associated with mainstream schools is to be expected. The greater flexibility of home education means that a parent or carer may develop learning activities in accordance with the progress their child is making and their individual needs. However, some planning will be needed to address issues such as:

  • the learning needs of the child and how these may be addressed
  • how the child’s abilities will be developed
  • how basic skills (oral language, literacy, and numeracy) will be acquired and developed
  • the range of topics or areas of learning and experience available to the child
  • how these learning experiences are to be provided
  • the time to be devoted to this learning, enabling time to relax and play
  • how further assistance can be obtained if needed

What good education looks like

3.8 A good education would be one that is:

  • broad, introducing the child to a wide range of knowledge, understanding and skills
  • balanced, each part allotted sufficient time to make its special contribution but not such that it pushes out other essential parts of the learning
  • relevant, topics being used in such a way as to bring out their application to the child’s own experience, to adult life, and to give due emphasis to practical aspects of learning
  • differentiated, your method of educating your child matching the child’s abilities and aptitude, and sufficiently challenging so that your child can show that progress is being made

3.9 A good education should:

  • provide your child with experience in linguistic, mathematical, scientific, technological, human and social, physical and aesthetic and creative education
  • provide your child with appropriate careers guidance (see paragraph 4.10 for more information)
  • provide your child with experience in speaking and listening, literacy, numeracy and digital skills
  • prepare your child for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life
  • enable your child to develop their self-knowledge, self-esteem and self-confidence
  • enable your child to distinguish right from wrong

Funding and support

3.10 Local authorities have no legal responsibility or obligation to fund parents and carers who choose to home educate. Parents and carers who choose to educate their children at home must be prepared to assume full financial responsibility for their children’s education, including for books and all other resources, as well as to meet the cost of any public examinations and course fees.

Children returning to school

3.11 Your child can return to school at any time. However, your child may require additional support when they return to school if the relevant curriculum has not been followed during the period of home education.

3.12 You must contact your local admission authority to apply for a school place. It cannot be guaranteed that there will be a place at the school your child previously attended. Find and compare local schools using the online guidance.

3.13 Where an admission application has been rejected, the letter of rejection from the admissions authority must inform you of your right to appeal. The admissions authority is also required to maintain a waiting list for oversubscribed schools, details of which must be set out in their published admissions arrangements. Following the allocation of places during the normal admissions round, children must remain on the waiting list until 30 September in the school year for which they have applied. Thereafter, you are expected to make a new application for admission.

3.14 If you are home educating while your child is on a waiting list for an oversubscribed school, you should note that being on a waiting list does not guarantee your child a place at that school. If additional places become available while the waiting list is in operation, they must be allocated to children on the waiting list on the basis of the published oversubscription criteria. Waiting lists must not give priority to children based on the date the application was added to the list. For example, if a child moves to an area outside the normal admissions round and has higher priority under the oversubscription criteria, they must be ranked above those with lower priority already on the list.

3.15 If you are unsure about this process you should get in touch with your local authority who can help.

The social aspect of school

3.16 When a child attends a school, there are daily opportunities to meet with and interact with other children and adults. There is no reason why home educated children cannot meet with and interact with other children and adults or maintain friendships from school. The only difference is that you will have to create the opportunities yourself. Many formal and informal groups exist that meet together, for both social and educational activities. These groups network and share ideas and resources. Joining a variety of clubs and special interest groups can prove very enriching, as can mixing and sharing skills with other people of all ages.

What to do if your child wants to go into further education

3.17 Whatever your child wants to do after the age of 16, it would be sensible to make early preparations and be aware of any entry requirements.

3.18 If they wish to access full-time education or training, your child has the following 3 options:

  • They can return to a school with a sixth form if there is one in your area. You will need to contact the college or school as early as possible and make an appointment to see the headteacher. Schools offer a range of courses including Advanced and A/S level courses and your child may also be able to take GCSEs and Welsh Baccalaureate.
  • They can attend a college of further education. When your child is 15 plus (Year 10) ask for a prospectus from your local further education college and check through the qualifications they may need and the courses on offer.
  • They can attend work-based training or modern apprenticeships. This is an excellent route if your child wishes to start work and to gain some work-based qualifications. Apprenticeship vacancies can be found at Careers Wales.

3.19 Careers Wales can provide impartial information advice and guidance on all of the options available to your child (see paragraph 4.10 for more information). Your local authority’s elective home education (EHE) officer is able to provide parents and carers with contact details of the local Careers Wales officer.

Private tutors

3.20 It is your decision how to educate your child, including hiring a private tutor. However, it is not guaranteed that a private tutor would be an appropriately trained and verified professional.

3.21 While working within a school, any adult working with your child would have undergone an enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check. This is a police check that is run on an individual and would have given some assurances that the adult had not been identified as posing a risk to children.

3.22 When hiring a private tutor, parents and carers should request to see their current enhanced DBS check. Some tutors may show parents and carers their current DBS check, but this is not sufficient. Where a person has been working closely with children and vulnerable adults, they should have an enhanced DBS check. If a tutor shows you their DBS check but they haven’t worked for 3 months, then it is no longer valid.

3.23 As a parent or carer you will not have any additional information that might have been given to a school when they undertook a DBS check as to whether there have been some concerns about an individual. Equally, as a parent or carer you are unable to undertake a DBS check.

3.24 DBS checks can only tell you information up to the time the check was done. It does not tell you about anything the person might have done after the check was made.

3.25 Therefore, it is extremely important that you always interview any potential tutor and ask to see their career résumé. You should always ask for and check professional references from someone who knows the tutor now. 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 also a qualified teacher, ask to see a copy of the tutor’s Education Workforce Council (EWC) certification.

3.26 Private tuition should never take place on a one-to-one basis without a second adult being present as this may pose a risk to both the professional and the child. While tuition is best undertaken in a space suitable for study; a bedroom is never appropriate. In addition, it is essential that you (or another trusted adult) remain on the premises. Any chaperone arrangement offered by the tutor should be refused. It is important that you have access to the teaching area and can observe and hear activity at any time you wish. Intervening doors should be kept open, even if it may curtail your own activities.

3.27 Any tutor who is mindful and aware of current expectations of professional staff should have no objection to these requests.

3.28 If you choose to employ a tutor or send your child to a tuition group full-time, you should note that if your child is learning alongside 4 or more other children or a child with an IDP or statement of SEN, then this provision may be considered an independent school. While there is no legal definition of a full-time education, it would be considered ‘full-time’ if it is all or substantially all of the child’s education.

3.29 Any provision that meets the definition of an independent school, that is, provides a full-time education for:

  • 5 or more children of compulsory school age
  • one or more children of compulsory school age with an IDP or a statement of SEN must be registered with the Welsh Government. Anyone who conducts an independent school that is not registered is breaking the law and may be liable to a fine and imprisonment

Educational support

How to access Welsh language support

4.1 Learning Welsh can be an enriching experience both for your child and your whole family.

4.2 If you are thinking about using Welsh before your child reaches compulsory school age (5 years old) there are a number of resources available to you. For example, Clwb Cwtsh is an 8 week Welsh language taster course for adults to develop the language you’ll use with your child. These are free to access, with free entertainment for toddlers too. Find out more at Mudiad Meithrin and the National Centre for Learning Welsh.

4.3 There are a wide range of Welsh courses for adults. Fees vary across courses. However, some are free and financial support.

4.4 National Museum Cardiff hosts Taith Iaith sessions once a month. They are run by museum staff that speak Welsh or have learned Welsh and cover an array of topics. They are aimed at learners of all levels and are open to the public. The full programme can be found online.

4.5 Welsh learners will also have the opportunity to socialise and use Welsh at the Ar Lafar festival that is run by National Museum Wales.

4.6 Notably, all exhibitions at National Museum Wales are bilingual and will usually have accompanying learning materials in Welsh. For example, a resource pack for St Fagan’s National Museum has been developed in conjunction with the National Centre for Learning Welsh and is aimed at Welsh learners of all levels. This resource supports visits to some of the museum’s iconic buildings while practicing Welsh.

4.7 Urdd Gobaith Cymru is an organisation that aims to give children and young people the chance to learn and socialise in the Welsh language. There are magazines as well as thousands of Urdd activities on offer for Welsh speakers and learners throughout the year.

4.8 You may also want to speak with your local authority’s EHE officer to enquire about access to any local Welsh-speaking opportunities.

Support from my local authority

4.9 There has been a package of support agreed with individual local authorities which is outlined below.

  • Home educating families have the opportunity to sit examinations in a local centre.
  • Home educating families are able to request that local authorities determine whether their child has ALN (additional learning needs).
  • Home educating families are able to make referrals for their child to access counselling.
  • Home educating families should be aware of referral processes to careers advisers.
  • Enhanced access is available to libraries (to borrow more books).
  • Local authorities will provide a local offer, which comprises a bespoke local activity offer and allocation of consumable materials, where any home educating grant funding permits.
  • Home educating families will have access to Cadw sites.
  • Home educating families will be signposted to Welsh language support.

Entitlement to careers advice

4.10 Careers Wales can give you information, advice and guidance to help your child plan their future.

4.11 Talking to a Careers Wales adviser can help your child to:

  • understand the options they have and find out more about what they can do locally
  • think about how to choose what to do next
  • put their plans into action

4.12 If you would like a Careers Wales Adviser to help your child plan their future you can get in touch by emailing or by telephoning on 0800 028 4844, or you can contact your local EHE officer who can put you in contact with a local Careers Wales Adviser.


4.13 Hwb is a digital learning platform which hosts free learning resources to support the delivery of Curriculum for Wales.

Educational trips

4.14 Educational trips can have several learning benefits for your child. Educational trips provide unique opportunities for kinaesthetic learning (‘learning by doing’) and encourage children to engage with people, places and buildings in new ways.

4.15 During term time, Cadw offers at its staffed historic sites (where charges normally apply) free self-led education visits to home educated children with an educator, if their visit is booked in advance. This is in parity with school educated children.

4.16 Find a historic place to visit and explore near you.

4.17 Unstaffed sites, that offer equally great stories and opportunities for outdoor heritage and science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) learning, are freely available to visit whenever they are open, without booking.

4.18 Free educational resources are available to use before, during and after your visit. Keep up to date with Cadw developments via Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

4.19 The following sources of information may be useful for heritage projects:

The National Museum Wales comprises of 7 free-entry museums each focusing on different aspects of Wales’ rich and varied heritage. These are:

4.20 A wide range of educational resources are available free of charge on the website to use alongside your visit.

4.21 Techniquest is the UK’s longest established science centre, with a mission to embed science in Welsh culture through interactive engagement. It offers experiences that are accessible to all, and provides opportunities for home educators to visit during term time. This includes visits to the planetarium, workshops in the laboratory and science theatre shows. During weekends and school holidays an informal education programme for all the family is on offer.

4.22 There is also a vast range of local museums and galleries to visit in Wales.

Volunteering opportunities

4.23 There are thousands of volunteering opportunities in Wales for your child. Volunteering can bring many benefits to your child, for example:

  • as well as helping others, volunteering has been shown to improve volunteers’ well-being too
  • it can be the perfect opportunity to test or find out more about a career without making a full commitment
  • it provides an opportunity to gain additional training and, in many cases, awards or accreditation
  • many employers view volunteering experience as a sign of maturity and as evidence of a range of skills that would be valuable in employment

4.24 A national database of all volunteering opportunities in Wales can be found online.

More able and talented provision

4.25 There are many enrichment opportunities for young, talented individuals in Wales that you can seek out alongside educating your child at home.

  • Every Saturday, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama is the home of the Junior Conservatoire. The Junior Conservatoire offers the only training of its kind in Wales, immersing students in a specialist environment where they can benefit from an intensive and holistic musical education. Through residential summer schools, national development courses and one-to-one tuition for talented musicians the aim is to enable students to explore their full potential, and to lay the foundations for a successful and fulfilling musical life. Bursaries may be available.
  • Youth Opera (at Welsh National Opera) is an award-winning training programme for any young person who loves to sing. You don’t need to have experience, but you do need energy, enthusiasm, commitment and willingness to work with other young people. There are no auditions for the younger groups, and you get to take part in an annual showcase, have access to regular large-scale performance opportunities and attend Welsh National Opera dress rehearsals and shows.
  • SportsAid helps the most promising young British athletes by providing them with financial support, recognition and personal development opportunities during the critical early stages of their careers. The financial challenge of trying to reach the top of their sport is one of their greatest barriers to success.

    “With the help of SportsAid, I did my thing. I didn’t come from a wealthy family, and there were times when I thought ‘I need a job’ but I stuck to my swimming. Thankfully it did pay off.”

    Adam Peaty MBE

  • National Youth Arts Wales creates training, performance and development opportunities for Wales’ most talented actors, dancers, instrumentalists and singers. This is done through the following national youth arts ensembles:

    1. National Youth Brass Band of Wales
    2. National Youth Choir of Wales
    3. National Youth Dance Wales
    4. National Youth Orchestra of Wales
    5. National Youth Theatre of Wales

    As well as providing these national ensembles, programmes will be developed in addition to enable greater involvement and participation by young people across Wales. These will be aimed at young people who may not be ready for the national ensembles but may be inspired to develop their talent and skills to give them confidence to apply in future years.


4.26 Your local library has a large range of resources such as books, e-books, DVDs and CDs which you can access for free. Some libraries run a student lending scheme that can be accessed by home educated children which allows them to borrow more books for longer periods of time.

Sexual health education

4.27 Sexual health education involves learning about a broad variety of topics related to sex and sexuality, exploring values and beliefs about those topics, and gaining the skills that are needed to navigate relationships and manage one’s own sexual health.

4.28 If you and your child choose to discuss sexual health, there are a number of online resources available for you to use, including:

Youth services

4.29 Local authorities in Wales are responsible for the provision of youth support services. These services are intended to provide opportunities that encourage, enable or assist young people (aged 11 to 25) to:

  • participate effectively in education or training
  • take advantage of opportunities for employment
  • participate effectively and responsibly in the life of their communities

4.30 In addition to these services, the Welsh Government also provides grant funding to local authorities to support their youth work offer to young people. Youth work aims to enable young people to develop holistically, facilitating their personal, social and educational development. In this way, it aims to help them to develop their voice, influence and place in society and to reach their full potential.

4.31 For more information on how to access these services, please contact your local authority. Your local EHE officer may be able to put you and your child in touch with local youth service provision.

4.32 Third sector organisations also play an important role in delivering services and opportunities to young people. To find out more about what is available in your local area, contact the Council for Wales of Voluntary Youth Services (CWVYS), who may be able to provide more information.

Play and leisure

4.33 Play is essential for the growth in children’s cognitive, physical, social and emotional development.

4.34 If you wish to find out more about play in your area, it is advised you get in touch with your local authority who can advise about all play opportunities, play areas, activities, clubs and events for children and young people in your area and wider community.

Examination support


5.1 Parents and carers of home educated children will have to enter their child for examinations and meet the costs of those examinations themselves. If you can, you should plan examination courses well in advance.

5.2 There are a number of different examination boards that offer GCSE qualifications with different syllabuses. It is crucial that before starting a particular GCSE course you identify a centre such as a school, PRU or college that will accept your child’s examination entry. You could contact your local EHE officer who will be able to advise you of a local identified setting which will accept children who are educated at home as independent candidates and whether this setting is registered for the child’s chosen GCSE course.

5.3 If you have an existing and positive relationship with a school or college you may wish to enquire as to whether your child could be entered there for the examinations and whether the school or college will be willing to undertake the assessment of any coursework.

5.4 If you do not have any relationship or contact with a school or college you will need to contact an examinations board, which may be able to arrange a local centre on your behalf. If you do this, you should also ensure that the board can arrange for any coursework to be assessed.

5.5 In the majority of cases, if a young person wants to take a GCSE that requires an examination, the examination has to be taken at an approved examination centre, usually a secondary school or further education college. As a home educator, you can contact your local EHE officer who will ask the provider to contact you to share the precise way in which they handle private candidates.

5.6 You will have to pay for any examination registration fee and assessment of coursework by an accredited person. You may incur extra fees if registration is late.

How to prepare your child for their examinations

5.7 When helping your child to prepare for their examinations, there are many online resources available for you to use. For example, BBC Bitesize provides interactive revision material such as flashcards and quizzes tailored to specific GCSEs and exam boards. Similarly, Hwb provides access to a vast amount of free teaching resources.

5.8 Examinations boards can supply syllabuses and copies of previous examination papers at nominal cost, or they can be downloaded from the board’s website.

5.9 You may wish to hire a tutor to support your child through their GCSEs. However, if you are employing private tutors, you are strongly advised to ensure they have had an advanced DBS check (see paragraphs 3.20 to 3.27 for more information).

5.10 There are home education networks online which can provide support and guidance on helping your child to sit examinations.


5.11 GCSEs may include a significant amount of graded coursework, which would require an independent person to mark. For this reason, some home educators choose to use IGCSEs as they are predominantly assessed by examination.

5.12 Like GCSEs, you will have to decide with your child which subject they want to study and the examination board they want to use. They may wish to contact their local EHE officer to find out whether there is a local centre that is registered as an IGCSE examination centre, and which also accepts private candidates for IGCSEs.

5.13 A number of organisations offer distance-learning courses for IGCSEs. This can be useful for home educators, especially as many offer examination registration support.

5.14 LearnOnline, from Pembrokeshire College, allows access to the latest high-quality education without needing to attend school or college. Pembrokeshire College have been delivering online distance learning since 2011 and have been continually developing LearnOnline in association with a number of home education groups, schools and colleges.

5.15 LearnOnline provides access to GCSEs, IGCSEs and A levels. All learning is included with a LearnOnline course (including textbooks), and it allows students to work at their own pace and study when they want, where they want, allowing them to fit their studies into their unique lifestyle. LearnOnline A level, IGCSE and GCSE courses are supported by a qualified tutor who will guide studies, set and mark homework and help with examination preparation.

Alternatives to GCSEs

5.16 There are a number of qualifications available to you as an alternative to GCSEs. For example, Agored Cymru is a flexible way to earn qualifications in subjects ranging from Essential Skills for Work and Life to Welsh Language for the Family. They currently work with over 200 centres across Wales. They can provide one-to-one support, guidance and training at every stage of the learning journey from registration to developing qualifications and awarding achievement. A variety of assessment methods can be used to evidence achievement such as written work, audio/video recordings and witness testimony.

5.17 In addition, ASDAN offer qualifications to help young people develop knowledge and skills for learning, work and life. ASDAN also provides programmes and qualifications for learners with SEN or ALN. Their courses have been developed for learners with a wide range of learning needs and abilities.


Gypsy, Roma and Traveller families

6.1 Local authorities should have an understanding of, and be sensitive to, the distinct ethos and needs of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. If you are a Gypsy, Roma and Traveller family with children of compulsory school age, it is strongly encouraged that you contact the local Traveller Education Support Service for advice and help to access local educational settings. Most local authorities provide such a service and your local EHE officer may be able to provide you with their contact details.

Safety on the internet

7.1 Technology is a valuable educational resource for children. The internet, other digital information and communication technologies can promote creativity and assist with the development of key social skills. However, it can also provide a medium where inappropriate content such as pornography and abusive images can filter through, online bullying can take place and online grooming by predators can occur.

7.2 You can seek advice and information on keeping children safe while on the internet by visiting:

7.3 Education packs containing lesson plans, posters, presentations, activities and more can be found at UK Safer Internet Centre: education packs.

7.4 If you want to know more about keeping children safe online, you can use the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Command’s Thinkuknow education resources. This aims to empower children and young people aged 5 to 17 years old to identify the risks they may face online and know where they can get support.

Advocacy and mediation

Children’s advocacy

8.1 The UNCRC Article 12 states that children and young people have the human right to have opinions and for these opinions to matter. The opinions of children and young people should be considered when people make decisions about things that involve them, and they shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand on the grounds of age. Children and young people should be given the information they need to make good decisions. The opinion of a child and young person should be considered everywhere, including in their home, in their workplace and school. This is true no matter how young a child or young person is, although the weight their opinion is given should change as they grow up and become more mature. You can access child advocacy services to represent the voice of the child at websites such as:

The Children’s Commissioner for Wales

8.2 The UNCRC sets out the human rights of all children and young people under 18. This international convention has been formally agreed by the United Kingdom, and the Welsh Government must have due regard to it. The national commitment to children’s rights was strengthened by the Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measures 2011.

8.3 The guiding principles of the UNCRC need to be fulfilled for children to experience their rights. These guiding principles are:

  • non-discrimination (Article 2)
  • adults must act in the best interests of the child (Article 3)
  • children have the right to live, survival and development (Article 6)
  • children have the right to participate in decisions (Article 12)

8.4 The rights laid out in the UNCRC are universal: they belong to all children, without discrimination. They are also indivisible. This means children must experience all of these rights.

8.5 Children have a right to know their human rights (Article 42) and the Children’s Commissioner for Wales protects and ensures children’s rights in Wales.

8.6 If your child is part of a community group and wishes to find out more about children’s rights, their group could join the Children’s Commissioner for Wales’ Community Ambassadors scheme. Community Ambassadors are children and young people who have volunteered to take on 3 main tasks:

  • To tell others about children’s rights.
  • To tell others about the Children’s Commissioner for Wales.
  • To tell the Children’s Commissioner for Wales about what is important to them by completing regular ‘rights missions’ If you would like to get involved, contact the Children’s Commissioner’s Office on 01792 765 600 or email.

8.7 The Children’s Commissioner also publishes a range of resources about topics raised as important by children and young people in Wales.

Mediation between child and parent or carer

8.8 Moving to home education is a big decision for any parent, carer or family, and it can affect lots of areas of family life so it’s important to think it through carefully and look at all your choices. Some parents and carers find that after a while, educating their child at home takes its toll on everyone. Home educating can affect relationships too if a child and parent or carer don’t have time to pursue their own interests or spend time away from the family home. You can find family mediation services at websites such as Relate.

Mediation between parent or carer and school

8.9 Many parents and carers choose to home educate for positive educational reasons. However, if you are considering opting for home education as a result of a disagreement with the school that your child attends, it would be advisable to try and resolve the problems with the school before deciding on home education. If these concerns remain unresolved, all schools and local authorities have complaints procedures that can be followed. If you do have any concerns, you should get in touch with your local authority’s EHE officer and they will be able to advise you.

8.10 The Children’s Commissioner for Wales’ investigation and advice service is free and confidential. It’s there as a source of help and support if children and young people, or those who care for them, feel that a child’s been treated unfairly. This service offers individual advice and investigates individual cases.

Accessing support services

9.1 You should ensure your child is registered with a general practitioner (GP) to provide general healthcare and offer important preventive services such as immunisations and health screening.

9.2 By choosing to home educate you have opted out of state education provision. However, this does not mean that you have opted out of state health services. You are still entitled to health services normally offered through schools.

Health services


9.3 Immunisations are an important part of protecting children against avoidable illness. You should contact your health visitor, GP, pharmacist or local health board to talk through the schedule of routine immunisations that are recommended in the UK.

9.4 Most immunisations for older children are routinely offered at school and delivered by the school nursing services. You can contact your GP or pharmacist to arrange for your child to have these at your local surgery or pharmacy.

Screening programmes

9.5 Screening programmes are used to check out people with no symptoms who may be at increased risk of a treatable problem. In school-age children, we offer a universal vision and hearing screening test at ages 5 to 6 years old to check for vision or hearing problems.

Hearing screening between 4 and 5 years old

9.6 The aim of the hearing screen is to identify children who have a hearing loss that might have developed since the new-born screening test. It’s important to identify hearing problems as early as possible because they can affect your child’s speech and language development, social skills and education. Treatment is more effective if any problems are detected and managed accordingly early on. An early diagnosis will also help ensure you and your child access any special support services you may need. If you would like to take up the school entry hearing screen or if you have any concerns about your child’s hearing, you should get in touch with your local health board audiology services.

Vision screening between 4 and 5 years old

9.7 All children should be taken to a high street optician for an eye test when they are aged around 4 or 5 years old.

Eye tests

9.8 Children under 16 years old, as well as young people aged 16 to 18 years old in full-time education, get free NHS sight tests and are also entitled to NHS vouchers towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses. Full-time education includes home education for this purpose.

9.9 Getting an eyesight test for your child is simply a case of arranging an appointment with the optician of your choice. There is no registration process involved.

Dental health

9.10 Every child should be registered with a dentist from the time their first teeth appear and attend for checks as advised. Children under 18 years old, and young people aged 19 years old and in full-time education are entitled to free NHS dental treatment.

9.11 To find information on dental practices in Wales, including contact details, opening times, services offered and whether they are accepting new patients, visit NHS 111 Wales. Alternatively, you can contact your local health board for the latest information.

9.12 If you experience difficulty accessing routine care and advice through your family dentist, you should get in touch with your local health board to find out more about their services. These include the Community Dental Services which are able to provide care for children who may require special care services.

9.13 You can find helpful advice on dental health at Oral Health Foundation. NHS Direct also provide information on a wide range of dental and oral health subjects.

Health visiting and school-age nursing services

9.14 The school-age nursing service aims to ensure that school-age children receive up-to-date information and advice to enable them to make informed lifestyle choices now and in the future. This is an offer of support, and it is not mandatory to engage with the service. School-age nurses are available to support and advice for children and young people whenever they need it. This includes reaching out to children and young people who are not attending school and promoting, improving and protecting their health and well-being to ensure they achieve the best possible health.

9.15 School-age nurses will provide and coordinate health intervention and public health programmes on a range of issues. For example, they can signpost children to the community dental service or provide help accessing routine care and advice through the general dental ‘high street’ services.

Speech and language therapy

9.16 If you are worried about any aspect of your child’s speech and language development, the first step is to get advice from your health visitor or GP. They can undertake assessments and, if necessary, refer your child for speech and language assessment, hearing assessment or other services as required.

9.17 NHS speech and language therapy services are provided free of charge by your local health board, who should provide the contact details for your local children’s speech and language therapy service.

Complaints or concerns about NHS Wales care and treatment

9.18 ‘Putting Things Right’ is the process for managing complaints and concerns in NHS Wales.

9.19 If you or your child are unhappy about the care and treatment they have received you should firstly raise your concerns with the staff involved with their care or treatment. NHS Wales will try to resolve your concerns immediately. If this does not help or you do not want to speak to the staff, you can contact the health board or trust’s concerns team.

9.20 If you have a concern about services you have received from your GP, dentist, pharmacist or optician you should normally ask the practice to look into it for you, but if you prefer, you can ask your health board to do so.

Additional learning needs (ALN) and special educational needs (SEN) support

9.21 The ALN system is replacing the SEN system over a 4 year period (2020 to 2024). This section sets out how the ALN system works. For information about the SEN system see the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice for Wales.

The Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 (‘the 2018 Act’)

9.22 The 2018 Act provides for IDPs for children and young people with ALN. IDPs are statutory plans and will replace statements of SEN and other types of support plans under the SEN system. IDPs describe and secure in law the additional learning provision (ALP) the child or young person requires to help address their ALN.

9.23 Local authorities have a duty to decide (section 13 of the 2018 Act) whether a child has ALN, and therefore whether the child needs an IDP. This duty is not dependent on gaining agreement from parents or carers of the child to assess the child for ALN.

9.24 If the local authority decides the child has ALN, it must prepare and maintain an IDP and secure the ALP described in that plan. This does not mean the local authority must provide the ALP directly. Where, for example, the IDP sets out the ALP as being one-to-one support, this could be provided by the parent or carer home educating the child (see paragraphs 18.21 to 18.23 of the Additional Learning Needs Code for Wales 2021). However, the local authority must ensure that the ALP is being delivered. This would be assessed as part of the IDP review undertaken by the local authority annually.

9.25 The 2018 Act began its phased implementation in September 2021.

SNAP Cymru

9.26 If you need help with this process, SNAP Cymru offers free and independent information, advice and support to help get the right education for children and young people with all kinds of ALN and disabilities. They can also provide advocacy, disagreement resolution and training for young people and parents and carers.

Neurodevelopment services

9.27 The neurodevelopmental services in Wales are specialist provision for those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and are inclusive of those children who may have learning disabilities.

9.28 You should ask your health visitor or GP for advice if you are concerned about attention, activity, social or communication problems suggesting the autism spectrum or attention deficit. They can provide advice, support and referral for more detailed assessment if necessary.

9.29 Parents or carers of children with a statement of SEN or IDP should be supported by the local authority to access the educational psychologist and gain support for a referral from them. Children or young people who meet the criteria for referral to a neurodevelopmental team for assessment should have the assessment started within 26 weeks (Welsh Government target) of the referral being received by the neurodevelopment service.

9.30 Please note that while private diagnosis is an option and can reduce the waiting time for a diagnosis, some local authorities may not accept the results of private diagnoses if the assessment does not meet agreed quality standards and may not be able to rely on such an assessment to inform any decision about providing services. Therefore, you should check with your local authority before subjecting a young person to a private assessment: it may be costly and actually delay accurate diagnosis.

Independent counselling

9.31 Every local authority in Wales must provide a ‘reasonable provision’ for independent counselling services in respect of health, emotional and social needs for all 11 to 18 year-olds in their area, including those who are not being educated at school.

9.32 If you would like your child to access independent counselling services, contact the EHE officer in your local authority to learn more.

Family information service (FIS)

9.33 Family information services provide free, impartial help, support and advice on a range of issues such as health care, education and training, and leisure services. They can put you in touch with experts who will provide free help and support tailored to your individual needs. They can also signpost you to useful information and services such as Flying Start and Families First. Each local authority in Wales has an FIS which you can contact via post, email or telephone. The contact details for your local authority’s FIS can be found at 'Find your local family information service'.

Families First

9.34 The Families First Programme can provide your family with help, advice and support. Families First teams, within your local area, will work with your family to help you look at what is working well in your life and to decide what help you need for your family to thrive. Families First is available to all families who need help, regardless of where you live or how much you earn. To find out more about Families First please contact your local authority.

Useful information

If you decide to home educate you may find the following websites useful. They provide contacts, advice, guidance and resources to support you in home educating your child.

Useful contacts and resources

For Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Children

Online educational resources










All subjects

Faith-based curriculum

Distance learning

Universal services contacts

Sensory impairment


Telephone: 0808 808 0123

Text: 07360 268 988

Telephone: 0303 123 9999

Telephone: 0300 330 9280

Telephone: 029 2037 3474

Helpline: 0808 800 8800

Speech and language

Telephone: 029 2046 5854

Helpline: 0300 666 9410

Learning difficulties

Telephone: 01784 222 034

Telephone: 029 2068 1160

Helpline: 0808 8000 300

Helpline: 0808 801 0608


Telephone: 0808 800 4104

Mental health

Medical-based support organisations

Telephone: 0208 952 2800

General support organisations

Telephone: 0300 123 2112

Telephone: 029 2057 7074

Telephone: 029 2034 2434

Public bodies

Helpline: 0808 808 3555

Telephone: 0808 800 0082