What happens about home education when a child turns 16? The majority of home-educated children go to college or sixth form to study at 16-18, but some continue to study for qualifications from home, while others go into employment. There are many recent case studies of home-educated children taking qualifications and moving on to college or university on our page 'Personal experiences of home educators'. If you want to gain qualifications at age 19+, please see Adult Education.

When can you leave formal education? Edit

Compulsory school age is from 5 to 16 (details below). A home-educating parent has a responsibility to ensure a full-time education is provided up until school leaving age. After age 16, the parent no longer has this responsibility. Although in England young people are supposed to be in education or training until 18, in practice this doesn't affect home education.

The "Participation Age" is now 18 in England. In theory, young people are supposed to be in education or training, even if part-time, until age 18. In practice, there are no penalties on the young person or their employer if they choose to work full-time from age 16. The background to this is that the Labour government of 2005-2010 legislated to raise the participation age, saying there was a duty to participate in education or training until age 18, but left the penalties for failing to comply to be decided at a later date. The Conservative - Lib Dem Coalition government which was elected in 2010 was not in favour of this legislation, saying that it would put employers off taking on 16-18 year-olds, so they did not enact any penalties for failing to comply with it. We are left with the odd situation where the Local Authority has a duty to encourage young people to participate in education or training until age 18, but there are no penalties on the young person if the decide not to, and no penalties for an employer who employs them without training.

This means that home-educating parents do not have to satisfy the Local Authority about their educational provision after a child reaches school leaving age.

From EdYourself on Raising the Participation Age:

.. LAs are not expected or required to have any involvement in post-16 home education, and in fact there is no legal power for them to do so. However, some LAs will contact home educating families as the young person turns 16 to ask about future plans, since LAs have to return information to the government about the rate of post-16 participation in their area. There is no obligation on the family to respond but if there is no answer the young person may be recorded as NEET (not in employment education or training)

SENDs Edit

Note that, for young people with SENDs, the participation age is 25 so EHCPs (replacements for statements) can run until a young person is 25 if it is needed to help meet the person’s educational needs. 

Continuing with Home Education Edit

Qualifications Edit

It is possible to study for most A-levels from home education, although this is a much greater challenge than GCSE-level study. Please see our A-levels page for more information.

Vocational qualifications such as Btecs are not usually an option for home-educated children, but a few can be studied by distance learning. See our Alternative Qualifications page for more.

University and Careers Edit

Higher Education - applying to university from home education, UCAS statements, funding.

Careers advice and job applications

Child Benefit Edit

If you continue to home educate a child aged 16-19, you are still entitled to Child Benefit as long as they were home-educated before age 16, AND they are studying for 12 hours a week or more. They do not have to be studying for qualifications. Please see Child Benefit for 16+ on for all you need to know about claiming. 

References Edit

References - Compulsory School Age Edit

School Leaving Age on says:

Your school leaving age depends on where you live.

England Edit

You can leave school on the last Friday in June if you’ll be 16 by the end of the summer holidays.

You must then do one of the following until you’re 18:

  • stay in full-time education, for example at a college
  • start an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training

Scotland Edit

If you turn 16 between 1 March and 30 September you can leave school after 31 May of that year.

If you turn 16 between 1 October and the end of February you can leave at the start of the Christmas holidays in that school year.

Wales Edit

You can leave school on the last Friday in June, as long as you’ll be 16 by the end of that school year’s summer holidays.

Northern Ireland Edit

If you turn 16 during the school year (between 1 September and 1 July) you can leave school after 30 June.

If you turn 16 between 2 July and 31 August you can’t leave school until 30 June the following year.

References - Raising the Participation Age to 18 Edit

The Local Authority has a duty to identify and 'encourage' people aged 16 and 17 to undertake training, which should lead to a qualification.

From Participation of Young People: Education, Employment and Training -

"Young people in jobs without training 22. Those in jobs without the required training should be encouraged to take up suitable part-time accredited education or training alongside their work. Local authorities should be aware of their duty to secure appropriate provision16 for all young people and 15 An overview of Care to Learn is available at 16 Section 15ZA and 18A of the Education Act 1996 (as inserted by the ASCL Act 2009) and from 1st September 2014, Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014 20 so ensure that flexible provision is in place where needed. Local authorities should work closely with local employers to agree suitable arrangements for young people. "
"Young people in jobs with non-accredited training 23. Those in jobs with training that does not lead to an accredited qualification should also be encouraged to take up accredited part-time education or training alongside their work"

See also: Raising the Participation Age (RPA) Regulations - Government response to consultation and plans for implementation - July 2012

"...The responses to the consultation suggested that potential fines might act as a perverse incentive, discouraging businesses from hiring 16 and 17 year-olds. We have therefore decided that the duties on employers within the RPA legislation will not be commenced in 2013. This will mean that employers will not be discouraged from hiring 16 and 17 year-olds by concerns about additional burdens or the possibility of fines. Those 16 and 17 year-olds who do work full-time will still be under a duty to participate in education or training part-time alongside. We know that employers recognise the benefits for the individual and their business of young people undertaking training and will want to support this, without the need to place additional duties on employers. We will work further with employers’ organisations and local authorities to make sure that this is clearly communicated and that employers have the information they need to understand the benefits of training for their young staff without the need for regulation. These duties will remain on the statute book and we will keep this under review, with the option to introduce the employers’ duties and enforcement in future if these are needed."

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