Choosing to educate a child from home is a big decision, one made by thousands of parents in the UK each year. There are an estimated 58,000 children currently being home schooled in the UK. Some more home-schooling statistics can be found in the infographic attachment to this post.

Any parent has the right to home educate their child, even when that child has special educational needs, as long as the parent can demonstrate they are providing an adequate and suitable education.

Sir Peter Birkett is the founder of a special educational needs independent school, Highgate Hill House School, and has a long professional background in education at all levels. Highgate Hill House School provides guidance for parents who have children with special educational needs who are considering educating their children at home for any reason.

Curriculum and Quality

There is currently no requirement for parents who choose to home school their children to follow the same curriculum as state schools, but the parents must be able to demonstrate they are providing a quality education.

Local authorities have the right to make informal enquiries to ensure children being educated at home are experiencing quality learning and, if the results of this leave them believing the child or children in question should actually be in school, they have the right to issue a school attendance order.

Where children attend mainstream schools, parents do not need to get permission to take them out and home school them. However, if a child has special educational needs, permission may be required if they regularly attend a special school. Children with special educational needs who attend mainstream school can be removed for home education without permission, even if they have an EHC (education, health and care) plan.

The embedded PDF explains more about what EHC plans are and how they help children with special educational needs.


Parents who choose to educate their children at home must assume the entire financial burden of that education, which includes fees for any public examinations and the cost of any resources required.

As parents are not required to follow the National Curriculum, it is up to the individual family to determine what resources may be required. Most families set apart a dedicated workspace for the child or children, ideally with a desk and chair, or a space at the kitchen or dining table, as well as a place where the child’s work can be stored.

Basic equipment to help with learning would include a computer, a dictionary, an atlas, a well-stocked pencil case, a maths set (compass, protractor, set square etc.), a good supply of plain and lined paper, and other accessories such as a stapler, glue, and pens or crayons, depending on the age of the child and the subjects being studied.

Home schooling in the modern age is perhaps easier than ever before as there are multiple online resources to help parents. This can be particularly useful with subjects the parent is less skilled in, or as the child gets older and wishes to specialise in one or more disciplines.

Working with Special Educational Needs

Special educational needs do not preclude home learning, but parents must be prepared to ensure the education provided is suitable and meets the child’s unique learning requirements. Home schooling does provide the advantage of added flexibility, so children can be taught at the times of day and under the circumstances that suit them best. There are also options to have home-educated children return to school temporarily to prepare for public examinations, to ensure the curriculum has been covered.

The short video attachment looks at the recent ISA Awards, in which Highgate Hill House School was a finalist.