Not at School

  • As a child or young person under the age of 18, you have the right to education, but you don’t have to go to school to get an education
  • Your parents can decide to educate you at home, and there may be other reasons why you don’t go to school, and are educated somewhere else
  • When any of these decisions are being made, the adults involved should take account of your views, and make decisions that are in your best interests

In Wales, every child should be in education between the ages of 5 and 16, but you don’t have to be educated at school. Some children are educated at home by their parents. Some children are educated in Pupil Referral Units because they find it difficult to learn in a ‘school’ environment. If you are ill on a long term basis, you might be educated in hospital, and if you have been in trouble with the police and are in youth custody, you should be educated there. As long as you are getting an education that develops your personality and your talents, your mental and physical abilities, teaches you about being part of society and encourages you to respect your own culture and other peoples’ cultures, that’s fine.

It’s a duty of your local authority to make sure children and young people can receive a suitable education even if they aren’t at school. So if there’s a reason why you can’t go to school – because you’re ill, or because you’ve been excluded from school, you will still receive an education. This could be in a Pupil Referral Unit which is a kind of school set up by the LEA specifically for children and young people who can’t go to ‘mainstream’ school. You can be educated at home if that’s what your parents think is best for you. If you can’t go to school because of a medical condition or illness, you may be able to access education at hospital. You can find out more about this here.

If you have been in trouble with the police and ended up in a Secure Children’s Home, a Secure Training Centre or a Youth Offenders Institution, you still have the right to an education. At least some of your day should be set aside for education so you can continue to learn.

If your parents, or the people with parental responsibility for you, decide that it will be better for you to be educated at home, they can choose to do this. It’s called ‘Elective Home Education’.  Your parents can only choose to educate you at home if they can provide you with an efficient and suitable, full time education. Most parents who choose to home educate will be very focused on making sure you get the right education for you. Being educated at home can give some children and young people freedom to learn in ways that suit them better than school.

If your parents decide to home educate you, they must consider what is in your best interests, rather than their own.

If you aren’t at school and you’d like to go, it will depend on the reason you are not at school. If you are being home educated, you will need to discuss this with your parents (or carers) and try and come to an agreement with them. Your parents are the main decision maker when it comes to your education. As long as they are doing a good job of your education, it is unlikely that anyone from the local authority will step in and make you go to school. If you have to spend a lot of time in hospital, it may be that you keep your connection with school but you can use the teaching opportunities in hospital to keep up with your school work when you are feeling well enough. If there are times when you feel able to do so, you should be able to go back to your school. You can find out more about how you can keep up with your education if you need medical care here.

Sometimes you might need support in a particular area, which your mainstream school can’t provide. You might spend some time at a special school or a Pupil Referral Unit, where teachers are better qualified to give you the help you need but spend other times at school.