Elective home education

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  1. Updating for 2023/24 to include latest return rates and new data items collected. Adding information on data processing and data availability, and rounding.

Definition - Elective home education

This publication provides data reported by local authorities on compulsory school age (opens in a new tab) children in elective 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 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

Data collection

Data presented in this publication has been collected through the Elective Home Education and Children Missing Education data collections. 

Full guidance provided to local authorities, including census dates and data item definitions can be found at: (opens in a new tab)

Data was collected from local authorities on a voluntary basis for the first time in Autumn 2022. 

Data quality

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 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, DfE 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 improve over time as the collection becomes established. For example, reductions in the number of unknown values for detailed breakdowns and increased response rates. 

Data processing


To account for non-response, national figures have been uprated based on local authority pupil populations of year groups R to 11.

Rate of EHE

The rates of EHE are calculated using ONS mid-year population estimates (opens in a new tab) for children aged 5 to 16 years in England as the denominator

The calculations for national and regional rates of EHE are based on uprated figures to account for local authorities for which data was not available.

Data availability and rounding

Data availability

The following symbols are used in the underlying data files as follows: 

x - data not available 

low - denotes figures based on count that rounds to 0, but is not 0. Figures may not sum to breakdowns due to rounding.

Where any number is shown as zero, the original figure submitted was zero. 

Data may not be available for a number of reasons, including where a local authority was unable to return a particular data item in the data collection and changes to the data collected.


Local authority and regional data has been rounded to the nearest 10, national figures are rounded to the nearest 100. As a result totals may not equal the sum of their component parts.

Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number, therefore component parts may not sum to 100.

Rates of EHE are rounded to one decimal place.

Help and support

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

Opening times:
Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 5pm (excluding bank holidays)