The Role of Your Local Authority
Statutory guidance on home education was issued to local authorities by the Scottish Executive in January 2008 following extensive consultation with the home education community and other interested bodies. This aimed to both clarify many previously ‘grey’ areas and to help thaw strained relationships between home educators and local authorities.
Local authorities should ensure that accurate information is given, provide advice and understand the parent right to home educate their child. They have no right to demand meeting, timetables, inspections or the completion of forms.
It is only if a local authority has reason to believe that an effective education is not being provided they have a right and a duty to intervene and can serve a notice on the parent to provide information about the education being provided but they also have to respect a parent’s right to provide education which reflects their own philosophy and views.
In cases where prejudice and hostility by the local authority are evident, families are strongly advised to report their experience to Schoolhouse and the Scottish Government Education Department. They may also consider complaining directly to the Chief Executive of the local authority and enlisting the support of their constituency and/or regional list MSPs, a number of whom have helped resolve such difficulties in the past.
Communication with the Local Authority
If you are known to be home educating or planning to home educate, you can expect your local authority to send you a copy of its ‘information/guidelines for parents’. Any information you receive from your council should reflect the content of the statutory guidance issued by the Scottish Government in January 2008. Authorities are expected to have regard to this guidance and you are strongly advised to be aware of its content so that you can satisfy yourself that all information you receive from your council is accurate and up to date. Local authorities will often suggest a home visit or meeting to discuss your intentions. You are not obliged to agree to a visit or meeting and may opt to provide evidence of your education provision by other means, e.g. a written report. The authority may also ask you for your reasons for choosing to home educate and your qualifications, none of which you are obliged to give.
Local authority officers will often enquire about plans for integration into school and/or future exams they will routinely enquire about ‘social’ opportunities and they will possibly seek assurances that the child has access to a place for quiet study. There is no legal obligation to oblige with any of this.
Local Authority ‘Consent’
If your child has not attended a state school in the local area, no consent is required from the local authority since it applies only to withdrawal from school. Indeed it is worth emphasising that no parent (who has full parental rights) needs permission to home educate per se.
Parents are not required to seek the consent of the local authority if:
- their child has never attended a public school
- their child has never attended a public school in that authority’s area
- their child is being withdrawn from an independent school
- their child has finished primary education in one school but has not started secondary education in another
- the school their child has been attending has closed
- their child has not attained compulsory education age (which is effectively the school intake date, usually mid-August, following the child’s fifth birthday)
If your child is of compulsory education age and enrolled at a state school, you will need to obtain formal consent to withdraw your child from a state school in order to commence home education (unless specific exceptions apply) and the local authority will recommend the granting or refusal of ‘consent’ based on the education provision you have outlined.
Whether or not you are removing your child from school, you are entitled to receive a copy of the local authority’s report and recommendations.
Local Authority Contacts
We have linked below to pages containing local authority contact information and comments on council services about home education in Scotland.
Please note that this section is a work in progress and we would appreciate volunteer input to help us complete the task. All information on council websites should be read in conjunction with Scottish Government home education guidance.
Parents are strongly advised not to rely on information from home education organisations based in England where the law is different.
- Aberdeen City
- Argyll & Bute
- Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
- Dumfries & Galloway
- Dundee City
- East Ayrshire
- East Dunbartonshire
- East Lothian
- East Renfrewshire
- Edinburgh City
- Glasgow City
- North Ayrshire
- North Lanarkshire
- Orkney Islands
- Perth & Kinross
- Scottish Borders
- Shetland Islands
- South Ayrshire
- South Lanarkshire
- West Dunbartonshire
- West Lothian