Parents of a child of compulsory school age must comply with the duty in section 7 of the Education Act 1996 to cause the child to receive efficient full-time education suitable to the child’s age, ability and aptitude, and to any special educational needs the child may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise. They can meet this duty by electing to educate at home, which is referred to in the Act as education ‘otherwise than at school’.
Local authorities do not have a general responsibility to monitor the education provided by parents, for the purposes of ensuring that parents are meeting their responsibilities. An authority has a duty under s.436A of the Education Act 1996 to make arrangements to establish the identities of children who are not receiving a suitable education. However, the fact that a child is educated at home does not necessarily mean that the child is not receiving a suitable education.
Should it appear that the child is not receiving suitable education, the local authority has a duty under s.437(1) of the Education Act 1996 to serve a notice requiring the parent to satisfy the authority that the child is indeed receiving a suitable education. If the parent is unable to satisfy the authority, and the authority considers it expedient for the child to attend school, then the local authority must issue a school attendance order.
These matters are set out in guidance issued by the Department for Education to local authorities.