Home education guidance

Guidance for parents and local authorities on home education.

7. Information for parents

7.1 Education Maintenance Allowances ( EMAs)

Home educated children are eligible for EMAs, subject to the same criteria as set out for school educated children. EMAs are available to eligible young people who are undertaking full-time non-advanced level study by home education. The EMA programme is administered by the local authority in which the home education is based. Applications should be made to the local authority. Students applying for an EMA as a home educated student must have a history of home education prior to reaching their official school leaving date. The Scottish Government publish updated guidance annually in March. Parents should refer to the latest guidance for more details.

7.2 Examinations for home educated children

There is no legal requirement for children to sit a particular set of examinations. If parents want a child to take a particular qualification, they should investigate thoroughly whether, and how easily, their child will be able to access examination and assessment arrangements. The internal assessment component of many qualifications such as Standard Grades, National Qualifications, GCSEs and A Levels can restrict the certification of external candidates. For instance, many National Qualifications courses at Intermediate 1 and 2, Higher and Advanced Higher require candidates to pass unit assessments as well as an external assessment to achieve a course award. These are not, however, the only types of qualification available and parents may wish to investigate alternative options which may be better suited to home education. Some study options are set out below.

Authorities are not required to meet any costs associated with home educated candidates taking examinations or other qualifications. Authorities should, however, where circumstances allow, take a reasonable approach and make available any resources or support that they can offer, and give information about alternative qualifications and the arrangements needed for children to take them, where applicable.

7.3 Study options for educational qualifications

Enrolment at a Further Education College

Home educated young people are eligible to be considered for further education college courses. As with school pupils, it is a matter for the college concerned whether to enrol a home educated young person. Courses are usually part-time, though colleges may in exceptional circumstances enrol young people under the age of 16 on to full-time programmes.

Enrolment at college has the advantage that all the work and entry for qualifications is organised by the college, but it does require at least some attendance at classes which will not appeal to all home educating families. If a student enrols at a college, their parents will be liable to pay all of the course fees themselves unless the education authority is willing to provide funding. Colleges also have the discretion to waive fees, which they tend to do for low income families in accordance with Scottish Funding Council's fee-waiver policy.


Many home educating families choose to work independently towards qualifications. Because of compulsory internal assessment components, there are many subjects and qualifications which are not available to external candidates unless an appropriate arrangement can be made with an approved centre which meets with the examining board's requirements. Some centres and examining boards may be willing to accept coursework which has been marked and authenticated by a private tutor.

Families who study for qualifications from home will need to:

  • Contact the relevant examination board to find out about their requirements.
  • Register with an approved centre for their child to be presented for the qualification.
  • Pay a registration fee for each subject their child will take.

It may also be possible for a group of home educators to consider seeking approved status in their own right. Further information on this can be obtained from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (contact details at end of guidance).

Correspondence Courses

Correspondence courses can be an option for students who prefer to work independently, though they will be required in most cases to follow a structured curriculum and programme of work. Correspondence courses offer a wide range of qualifications at different levels and the organisations offering these courses will advise about arrangements which need to be made for registering with an examination centre and for marking and authenticating coursework. The cost of this option varies depending on the organisation and the qualification chosen, but can prove expensive.

7.4 Child protection assurances for parents

Parents may choose to employ other people to educate their child, though they themselves will continue to be responsible for the education provided. They will also be responsible for ensuring that those they engage are suitable persons to have access to children. They will therefore wish to satisfy themselves, for example, by taking up appropriate references, or requesting that a Disclosure check is carried out. Further information about Disclosure checks is available from Disclosure Scotland (contact details at end of guidance).

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