One of the most commonly-asked questions about home schooling children with additional needs is whether or not parents need to follow the provisions laid out in their child’s EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan). The short answer is no, you do not need to follow the EHCP. However, the EHCP is a useful document for home schooling parents and can help you to make the best possible provision at home.
First of all, before you start on your home schooling journey, you need to make sure that you have followed national policy on removing your child from school. Children with and without additional needs are legally entitled to be home schooled, either on a full or part-time basis. If your child was previously educated in a mainstream school, but has an EHCP, write to the headteacher to explain why you feel that home schooling is a better option. The school will then deregister the child and notify the LA on your behalf.
The rules for children who attend special schools are somewhat different: you will need to get the LA’s approval if you want to deregister your child and begin home schooling. The best way to do this is in writing, making sure that you provide all of the reasons why you think home schooling is a better option.
When home schooling a child with an EHCP, you don’t need to follow the National Curriculum, so there’s a lot more flexibility around subjects and topics. However, you do need to make sure that your lessons are “suitable to age, ability and aptitude.” It can be difficult for a parent to work out exactly what this means, but the EHCP can come in handy when planning your curriculum. Use it as a guide to help you plan specific activities that can be adapted to whatever topics you choose to teach. The EHCP can offer some ideas around how to set up the right learning environment, too.
Ultimately, although the EHCP is not a legally-enforceable document, think of it as a starting point in your home schooling journey. By using the strategies and ideas set out in the EHCP, it will make a much easier job of providing engaging and accessible learning experiences for your child.
Kaye Jones is a teacher and freelance writer, with a passion for history and education.