Ask the Traveller Movement: schooling your children at home

1 February 2018
crays hill

Patricia from the Traveller Movement answers questions on Elective Home Education; or your rights and the positives and negatives of educating your children at home rather than at school

Hi! My name is Patricia and I run the Education Support Project at The Traveller Movement, kindly funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. My job as education support officer is to advise and support families with any issues they may have in schools or education.

If you have a question that you would like answered, but don’t want it published on the Traveller Times website, please email me at If you would like to talk in person you can ring me on 0207 607 2002 and I’ll do my best to support you.

What is Elective Home Education?

Elective home education is the term used by the Department for Education (DfE) to describe parents' decisions to provide education for their children at home instead of sending them to school.

Elective home education is the responsibility of the parent. Any parent can choose to educate their child at home, including if their child has Special Educational Needs (SEN).

Children whose parents choose to educate them at home are not registered at a school.

Who pays for a child to be home educated?

According to the Guidance for Local Authorities for Elective Home Education, parents who choose to educate their children at home must pay for anything that they need to educate their child, including the cost to enter children in to public exams. This is really important to remember if you are thinking about home schooling your child, because it can be really expensive. You will need to consider the cost of things like writing equipment, paper, examination fees, or college placements.

Some parents choose to pay private tutors but the council does not contribute to the cost of this. Some parents get the help of other adults to assist them in providing a suitable education for their children.

Parents who choose to educate their children at home must be prepared to assume full financial responsibility, including bearing the cost of any public examinations.

Who monitors the quality of home education?

A suitable or a quality home education includes acquiring numeracy and literacy skills, as well as other ‘basic skills’ such as social skills and the ability to make balanced decisions. The education they receive should set them up well for life.

Local authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis. However, under Section 437(1) of the Education Act 1996, local authorities shall intervene if it appears that parents are not providing a suitable education. As part of their safeguarding duties local authorities have powers to insist on seeing a child to enquire about their welfare where there are grounds for concern, but this does not extend to seeing and questioning children for the purpose of establishing whether they are receiving a suitable education.

However, local authorities will want to make sure that the child is being looked after and is not in any danger. They may come to visit the child and ask about how they are doing. This can happen to all children, not just Gypsy, Roma or Traveller children.

Why do people choose to home educate?

People choose to home educate their children for a variety of reasons, such as religious or philosophical reasons, distance from school, because a child if being bullied, or the parent feels the education system does not suit their child’s needs.

However, it is sometimes reported that schools try and persuade parents that they should educate their children at home because the child has a poor attendance record. Schools should never tell you that you should home school your child because of these issues. More importantly, you do not have to take your child out of school because of these reasons. The school and the local authority must work with you to address the issue of your child being absent from school. It is your decision alone to choose elective home education.

Making the decision to home educate

Deciding to educate your child at home is a big responsibility. You will need to think carefully beforehand to decide if you can provide the type of education that you want your child to have. For example, to get formal qualifications like GCSEs (the test children take when they’re sixteen), it’s usually best that children stay in school.

If you want to chat to an advisor about Elective Home Education (EHE) we recommend you contact your local authority and speak to the designated home education officer.

To get answers to your education questions, you can email the Traveller Movement Education Project or call 02076072002.

Traveller Movement launch education fact sheets

To read the Traveller movement leaflet on Elective Home Education click here:

The Traveller Movement has just launched a new range of education fact sheets. If you need further advice on school attendance, school applications, school exclusions, Special Educational Needs (SEN), or Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP) please contact the Traveller Movement Education Team on 02076072002.

Click here for a factsheet on school applications.

Click here for a factsheet on school attendance.

Click here for a factsheet on school exclusions.

Click here for a factsheet on Special Educational Needs (SEN).

Click here for a factsheet on the different types of schools.

Click here for a factsheet on Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP).