Academic year 2023/24

Elective home education

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This publication provides data reported by local authorities on compulsory school age (opens in a new tab)  children inelective home education (EHE) (opens in a new tab) in England. EHE is a term used to describe a choice by parents to provide education for their children at home instead of sending them to school full-time. 

Local authorities have a duty under section 436A of the Education Act 1996 to make arrangements to establish the identities of children in their area who are not registered pupils at a school and are not receiving suitable education.  

EHE is different to education provided by a local authority Otherwise Than At a School (i.e. EOTAS) - for example, tuition for children who are too ill to attend school. Such children are not counted in these figures. 

EHE is also different to children missing education (CME) who are children of  compulsory school age who are not registered pupils at a school and are not receiving suitable education otherwise than at a school. CME includes children who are awaiting a school place and children in receipt of unsuitable education, including those children whom local authorities are supporting to place into suitable education. An EHE child whose education is deemed unsuitable should no longer be classified as an EHE child and should be classified as CME. A separate release has been published relating to CME.

The figures are published as official statistics in development to provide national estimates of EHE for users. As a relatively new data collection we expect the quality of the data returns to improve over time as the collection becomes established. We welcome user feedback on these statistics via the details in the “contact us” section below.

Data is presented for both the number of children at a point in time on the autumn term 2023 census day, and the number of children who were EHE at any point during the 2022/23 academic year. Where a child was in EHE for more than one period during the year, they are only recorded once.

Future data will be published annually. The next publication in winter 2024 will include termly data collected up to autumn 2024.

Headline facts and figures - 2023/24

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Data Quality

The EHE and CME data collections have been developed to: 

  • build a clearer picture of the EHE and CME cohorts at local and national levels, 
  • help the Department for Education identify outlying local data and work with those local authorities to understand the reasons, and 
  • help understand the drivers of EHE and CME.

The following considerations should be noted when using this data: 

  • Data was received from 95% of local authorities in the 2023/24 Autumn term, return rates for the previous academic year varied between 93% and 97%. To account for non-response, national and regional figures have been uprated based on local authority pupil populations.
  • Response rates varied across data items; this includes where more detailed breakdowns are not readily available.
  • As part of the ongoing data quality assurance process, the Department for Education has carried out detailed discussions with local authorities to understand trends in the data. We have learnt that: 
    • Approaches to recording of EHE vary across local authorities. For example, local authorities’ report variation in the point at which an EHE child receiving unsuitable education is classified as CME. 
    • Approaches to recording the use of Section 437(1) notifications and School Attendance Orders (SAOs) vary across local authorities with some inconsistency in defining the start of the process.  

However, recording practices for EHE within local authorities are well established. As an indication, estimates in this release closely align with previous estimates produced by the  Association of Directors of Children’s Services (opens in a new tab) (ADCS), noting that this release uses a different uprating methodology so is not directly comparable. 

EHE counts will vary depending on the population within the local authority, which may change over time, for example there can be higher numbers of EHE at the start of a school year as parents await their preferred school place and EHE in the meantime. High or low counts should not be used as a reflection of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ practice. 

As this is a new data collection since 2022/23, we expect the quality of the data returns to continue to improve over time as the collection becomes established. For example, reductions in the number of unknown values for detailed breakdowns and increased response rates. 

Elective home education on census days

Local authorities reported an estimated 92,000 children in EHE at the census date in autumn 2023. This includes adjustments made for non-response and is based on a figure of 87,700 reported by 95% of local authorities. This includes children of compulsory school age (opens in a new tab)  who are resident in the local authority and the local authority are aware of being electively home educated on census date. The rate of EHE was 1.1% of the population of comparable ages (based on ONS mid-year population estimates (opens in a new tab) for children aged 5 to 16 years).

EHE increased each term throughout the 2022/23 academic year but decreased again between summer 2023 and the start of the 2023/24 academic year.  

As this is a new data collection (first collection in autumn 2022) increases are likely to be due at least in part because of improvements in data quality. Please see the Data Quality section for further information.

The table below provides the primary reason why a pupil was EHE. Of those reasons known or provided, the reason most reported was philosophical or preferential reasons, accounting for 16% of pupils, followed by mental health (13%) and lifestyle choice (8%). 

Of the primary reasons given, 40% were recorded under ‘unknown to the LA’, ‘other’, or ‘parent did not provide a reason’.

The proportion of children electively home educated varies by characteristics. The figures below relate to autumn 2023/24 but trends remained very similar to 2022/23. 

  • Sex – 51% of EHE children were reported as female and 48% of EHE children were reported as male. This compares to 49% of the overall school population as female and 51% male as at January 2023. 
  • Year group – The number of EHE children increased as the expected year group increased, from 3% of those children who are EHE expected to be in year group 1, up to 19% of those children who are EHE being in year group 11. Over a third of EHE children were expected to be in either year groups 10 or 11. 
  • 53% of EHE children were White British and 23% from ethnicity minority backgrounds. Note that the remaining 23% had refused to provide their ethnicity or were unknown.  
  • 15% of EHE children had an additional requirement of SEN support, while 5% of EHE children had an education, health and care plan. This compares with 13% and 4% respectively for the overall school population. 
  • 1% of EHE children were recorded as a child in need, while <0.5% were recorded as having a child protection plan or were a looked after child. This compares with 3% children in need, 0.4% having a child protection plan and 0.7% looked after children amongst the overall child population. 

SEN provision and in need status was as known to the LA as at the census day and therefore may exclude children with previous additional requirements and those that were not known. 

Elective home education – at any point during the academic year 2022/23

Data was collected on the number of children reported by local authorities as being EHE at any point during the 2022/23 academic year. Where a child was EHE more than once, they are only recorded once. These are cumulative counts of all pupils reported by local authorities as EHE children at some point in the academic year and are not directly comparable to the point in time figures presented as at census day each term. 

When adjusted for non-response, an estimated 126,100 children were reported by local authorities as EHE at any point during the 2022/23 academic year. This is based on a figure of 119,200 reported by 94% of local authorities. 

There were an estimated 53,200 pupils reported as starting in EHE during the academic year, increased from 44,400 during 2021/22. An estimated 19,800 EHE children returned to a school setting during the academic year, a similar number to the estimate in 2021/22. 

The table below shows, of those pupils who started EHE during the academic year, the previous school type attended by those pupils. The largest proportion of children EHE had previously been in academies. This is reflective of the fact that a large proportion of secondary schools are academies and that a higher proportion of older children are EHE. 

Previous school type before EHE for children who started EHE during the 2022/23 academic year

Local authority maintained27%
Home educated outside the local authority2%
Free school2%
None (previously not of compulsory school age)2%
Early years1%
Pupil referral unit1%
Alternative provisionlow


  1. Local authority response rates to the data collection vary by census date. To account for non-response, national and regional figures have been uprated based on local authority pupil populations. 

Source: EHE and CME census

Section 437(1) notices and school attendance orders

Data was also collected on section 437(1) and school attendance orders. 

A section 437(1) notice is issued by a local authority in advance of a school attendance order. Where it appears to the local authority that a child of compulsory school age is not receiving a suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, then they must begin procedures for issuing a school attendance order (under section 437 of the Education Act 1996 (opens in a new tab)). The order will require the child’s parents to register their child at a named school. If they fail to comply with the order the parent can be prosecuted. 

In the 2022/23 academic year, an estimated 3,900 section 437(1) notices were issued, an increase of 100 from the previous year. An estimated 1,100 school attendance orders were issued and 200 school attendance orders revoked in this period, both a decrease from the previous year estimates. School attendance orders may be revoked because local authorities are able to conclude that the child is receiving suitable education, a court acquits a parent who had been prosecuted for breaching a school attendance order, the local authority applies for an education supervision order, or the child becomes no longer of compulsory school age.   

Usage of section 437(1) notices and school attendance orders varied across the country. 30 local authorities reported issuing no section 437(1) notices whilst 53 local authorities reported issuing no school attendance orders.  

Help and support


Find out how and why we collect, process and publish these statistics.

Official statistics in development

These statistics are undergoing a development. They have been developed under the guidance of the Head of Profession for Statistics and published to involve users and stakeholders at an early stage in assessing their suitability and quality.

They have been produced as far as possible in line with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

This can be broadly interpreted to mean that these statistics are:

  • managed impartially and objectively in the public interest
  • meet identified user needs
  • produced according to sound methods
  • well explained and readily accessible

Find out more about the standards we follow to produce these statistics through our Standards for official statistics published by DfE guidance.

Contact us

If you have a specific enquiry about Elective home education statistics and data:

School Statistics Team

Contact name: Pauline Potts

Press office

If you have a media enquiry:

Telephone: 020 7783 8300

Public enquiries

If you have a general enquiry about the Department for Education (DfE) or education:

Telephone: 037 0000 2288

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