Elective home education


Definition - Elective home education

This publication provides data reported by local authorities on children in elective home education (EHE) in England. 

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 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. This 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. These children are not counted in these figures. 

It is also different to children missing education (CME) who, as defined in the Section 436A of the Education Act 1996, 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 ad-hoc 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:

Data was collected from local authorities on a voluntary basis for the first time in Autumn 2022. The Department for Education (DfE) recognises the operational importance of publishing this data in a timely manner and so is publishing this information as transparency data. The data collection is planned to continue on a termly basis during the 2022/23 and 2023/24 academic years. 

Data quality

The following considerations should be noted when using this data: 

  • Data was received from 93% of local authorities in the Autumn term and 95% in the Spring term. 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 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 report closely align with estimates produced by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) from their previous annual survey. 

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, 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.