Why do I Need to Contact the School?
If a child has not previously attended a school, parents do not need to contact any school regarding their home schooling choice. If, however, your child is either currently attending a school in England, Northern Ireland, or Wales, or is registered as about to attend, parents have to de-register their child by (usually) writing a letter to the school’s head teacher. This letter is not to ask permission to home school – parents do not require permission to home educate a child. Instead, the purpose of the letter is to ask for your child to be taken off the school’s register.
What do I Need to Write in the Letter?
There are samples of the kind of thing you might want to write in the deregistration letter on the website of home education support group ‘Education Otherwise’ that parents can use as a template for what they want to write in their own letters. Basically, remember that your letter to the school’s headteacher should be simple and to the point; you do not need to supply complex reasonings or detailed explanation, in fact if you prefer not to, it is not even necessary to inform the school that your education plans for your child involve teaching him or her yourself at home.
The Education Act includes the detail that each child must receive an education, but that can be ‘Education Otherwise’, a descriptive term which includes home teaching. Some home schooling parents have written in their letters that they plan to provide an alternative teaching arrangement rather than go into detail. Note, however, that establishing a good relationship with the school, even on taking your child out of its teaching, can be helpful for the future – your child may wish to re-enrol at some point, or some school may even allow home schooling parents to borrow textbooks or teaching resources.
In Scotland, there are slightly different regulations (check the page on Scotland and the law on home education on this site) – but in basic terms, Scottish families will need to seek permission from their Local Education Authority (LEA) in most cases to deregister a child from school. The Schoolhouse Home Teaching Support Group, which has a detailed website, can provide more information on obtaining Scottish LEA consent to teach.
Note that parents of children with special educational needs attending a special school will also have to apply for consent to home school their child.
Practical Information About Delivering The Letter
Note that it is a good idea to either deliver the letter by hand (and ask for a receipt) or post it by recorded or registered delivery in order to have proof of its delivery. It is then the role of the headteacher and/or the school to tell the LEA about your registration and/or home schooling, it is not the obligation of the parent to do so.
What Happens Next?
Note that some school headteachers or class teachers will invite parents into the school to discuss their decision, or ease the transition by discussing the child’s progress so far, notes, resources, etc. It is not compulsory for parents to attend these meetings, but again keeping the school ‘on side’ is usually a good idea.