FAQ Glossary

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Autonomous Education

A process of learning which goes much further than schools. By autonomous education, home educators mean that the child leads the education and the parents become the facilitator. The child chooses the subjects, methods and context of learning. It is believed by those who espouse it that this is a far more efficient education than any that coerces the child to learn by imposition.

Compulsory education or Compulsory Schooling Age

This term refers to the ages during which the parents of a child have a legal duty to ensure that their child receives a suitable education More. Despite the legal phrase CSA, school is not compulsory.


The process by which a family will acclimatise itself to home education. In particular to find a method of education that suits them as a whole family. An appeal court case in 1985 known as the "Perry" case established that families should be given time to acclimatise to home education prior to "inspection" by an LEA. The concept of Deschooling therefore has some legal meaning in England and Wales. The term was also used in a book entitled "Deschooling our Lives" edited by Matt Hern (forward by Ivan Illich) in 1996. More

Department for Education (DfE)

The name of the department responsible for government policy on education. This department has undergone a bewildering array of names since the 1980's and will no doubt continue to change as government thinking on education continues to change. Formerly known as the Department of Children, Families and Skills (DCFS) & Department of Education and Skills.


"Elective Home education Legal Guidelines" The title of guidelines on home education produced by a group of home educators in 1998. EHELG was highly significant in building the confidence of home educators enabling them to challenge LA interpretations of the law. It also marked the first major project undertaken by the online home education community and created a blue print for future cooperative projects for a number of years following.

EHELG has now been retired from use on most public web sites as it is somewhat out of date. Experienced home educators however often continue to use it privately as a reference guide to legislation and it remains an important tool in advising new home educators and formulating responses to LA communications.

Education Otherwise (EO)

A phrase used first in the 1944 education act and later in the 1996 education act (section 7) to describe education other than in school. In addition to those children who are electively home educated it includes those who are educated out of school for any reason such as illness or disability etc. This phrase is used by the home education support charity Education Otherwise for their name.

The phrase is sometimes used by Local Education authorities as the title of the department or section that deals with those families who chose to home educate. However, since the Charity "Education Otherwise" trade marked their name the use of this phrase by LA's is in contravention of trade mark Law.

Education Welfare Officer (Educational Social Worker, EWO)

An officer of the Local Authority who is often the person who will contact home educating families to ensure that they are fulfilling their duties in law. They may sometimes have other names like "educational social workers". Only rarely are they qualified teachers or indeed social workers.

Elective Home Education (EHE)

To chose to educate a child at home as opposed to school particularly during the ages of compulsory education


An Educational Supervision Order. A process by which a LA take on the parental power of deciding upon the educational needs and provision for a child. These are quite rare.


Education Other Than At School, refers to a situation where a child is registered at a school though for one reason or another, usually behaviour, illness or pregnancy, cannot attend the school and is therefore provided with tutors by the LA for home teaching. (S9 Education act 1996)

Flexi schooling

Where a child is registered at a school but obtains regular leave of absence to complete some of their studies at home. More

HEAS (Home Education Advisory Service)

A charitable trust that broke away from Education Otherwise in the 1980's to form an alternative support group.


A replacement for HES FES see below

HES FES (Home Educators Seaside Festival)

The UK home educators largest camp held every year from around 1998 to about 2015 in the south of England. More

Home-based education

An alternative term to home education sometimes used to imply that while children's education is based in the home it is generally not entirely conducted there.

Home Education (HE)

To educate a child at home as opposed to school particularly during the age of compulsory education.


The Human rights act.

Home schooling

An American term used to describe home education. This term is very unpopular in the UK as it implies that parents engage in school at home whereas many parents educational styles differ greatly from those employed by schools. For this reason either "elective home education, home based education or simply home education are more popular in the UK.

Home Visits (HV)

Referring to visits by EWO's as part of the process of inspection. Home visits and their legal status are a regular topic for discussion within the home education community. There is no obligation for LAs to undertake HV's and there is no obligation for home educators to allow them. More

Intrinsic Motivation

Where a person is acting upon beliefs currently held by that person. The corollary of this is extrinsic motivation where a person acts upon beliefs that are not held by that person. A term first used in this context by Jan fortune wood in her book "Bound to be Free" to describe coercion and associated inefficiencies inherent in extrinsic motivational teaching as imposed by schools. The concept owes much to the philosophy of Carl Popper.

Local Authority (LA)

Responsible for providing institutes of learning in their area. They are also the body that checks up on home educators should it be thought that they are failing to provide an education for children they are responsible.

National Curriculum (NC)

The curriculum imposed by the government upon all state schools in the UK. Home educators do not need to follow this curriculum.

Purposive Conversation

A term coined by Professor Roland Meighan a UK educationalist to mean the process of education by conversation. A large part of education undertaken by home educators, particularly autonomous home educators, is conducted by conversation. In practice this can be compared to how any engaged parent will behave towards their children but possibly more intensely.


School Attendance Order, where the LA formally orders that the child be returned to a named school. These are quite rare and are challengeable in court. There are procedures which must be followed in issuing such an order for it to be valid.

Standard Attainment tests (SAT's)

These are conducted by schools to determine the effectiveness of the school. Home educators do not need to use SAT's.

Special Educational Needs (SEN)

Refers to children with any special need that effects a child's educational abilities. Some authorities also use this designation for gifted children.


This can have two related meanings. It can have the technical sociological meaning relating to whether a child's education is such that it enables the child to interact with other people and generally fit into society. The second, more usual meaning in the context of home education relates to issues of peer relationships. More


Sometimes used as an abbreviation for "Social Services".


This usually refers to a statement of special educational need. If a child has a special educational need the LEA must identify that need and show how they propose to address it, including identifying resources by producing a statement of the child's needs. Parents cannot be forced to provide the provision identified by statements.

Taking Children Seriously (TCS)

A libertarian approach to parenting utilising non-coersive parenting and autonomous educational methods. More


A form of education used by some home educating families which uses autonomous educational methods. This methodology rejects the concept of school as being against the interests of the child. It was first used in the US where the term is most popular and was coined by John Holt in his book of the same name. Many home educators in the UK know of the term unschooling but tend not to use it rigorously. While in practice unschooling shares traits similar to Autonomous education, it is not the synonymous with it


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