Education Otherwise than at School

 How  Advocacy and Mediation Consultants Ltd can help

  •  Advice on the appropriateness of Home Education and Education Otherwise than at School for pupils with Special Educational Needs

  • Advice on the LA’s obligation or ability to fund Flexi Schooling /Home Education/Home Programmes / Internet Based Learning/ Alternative Education/College placements for pupils with Special Educational Needs 

  • Negotiation and Mediation with the LA for funding for Home based /Flexi programmes 

  • Preparation of paperwork, representations and statements for Tribunal Hearings.

  • Representation at the Tribunal Hearing



Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 recognises parents’ right to choose to educate their child at home. Such arrangements are described as ‘education otherwise than at school’ (EOTAS) This applies to all children including those with special educational needs and with Statements of Special Educational Needs

Section 9 of the Education Act 1996

recognises pupils’ rights to be educated in accordance with parents' wishes

In exercising or performing all their respective powers and duties under the Education Acts, the Secretary of State, local education authorities and the funding authorities shall have regard to the general principle that pupils are to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents, so far as that is compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and training and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure.


Section 319 of the Education Act 1996 refers to the LA‘s ability to arrange for Special educational provision otherwise than in schools

(1)       Where a local education authority are satisfied that it would be inappropriate for—

(a)      The special educational provision which a learning difficulty of a child in their area calls for, or

(b)      Any part of any such provision,

            To be made in a school, they may arrange for the provision (or, as the case may be, for that part of it) to be made otherwise than in a school.

(2)      Before making an arrangement under this section, a local education authority shall consult the child's parent.

The SEN Code of Practice gives Guidance on Education otherwise than at school In Chapter 8, Paragraphs 91-96

Parents have a right to choose EOTAS?


In practice, because of Case Law and significant differences in local “ policy “  , parents desire to have the LA fund Home Provision or Education Otherwise than at School for children with special educational needs is not straightforward and frequently involves the LA refusing outright to fund provision that is not in a school . In such cases an appeal to the Tribunal may be necessary. .

A common response to parents is that a school can meet their child‘s needs and thus this is where they should be educated. The situation was not helped by various High Court judgements stating that if the provision can be made in a school then there is no power under section 319 to provide it “otherwise”: Shirley C –v- Brent [2003].This meant that as long as a LA could prove that one of their schools, either special or mainstream, could meet a child’s needs then the parents had no right to ask the LA or Tribunal to consider Education Otherwise than at School ( e.g. a Son Rise, ABA , VB programme) even if it was cheaper. The onus would be on the parents to prove that the LA’s choice of school could not meet the child’s special educational needs.

However matters may become slightly easier for parents to choose this option than previously as a recent Court of Appeal  judgement R ( on the application of TM ) V Hounslow London Borough Council 2009 said that if the parents wanted a Home Programme ( in this case ABA ) and the LA wanted to name a school,  it was not enough for a LA to ask whether a school “ could “ meet a child’s special educational needs ; rather it was obliged to ask whether provision of education at school was both suitable and proper having regard to all the circumstances of the individual case, including , but not limited to (a) the child’s background and medical history (b) costs of educational provision and (c) parents wishes . This is a significant development for parents as it now means the LA have to consider the full range of circumstances , including whether the cost and the cost differential is so significant so as to displace the parents wishes for their child to be educated in such a way .

Can the LA agree to fund/part fund EOTAS without going to  a Tribunal?


The LA can agree to fund or part fund EOTAS even if they believe that a child’s needs can be met in one of their schools. There is nothing to stop them agreeing to funding the parent’s choice of education.

The LA can also agree to funding some of the provision required to meet a child’s needs (e.g. Speech and Language Therapy, OT ) if they believe that this is needed to meet the child’s needs ; The Code of Practice explains that the statement can also specify any provision that the LEA have agreed to make under section 319 to help parents provide suitable education for their child at home.


Statements of Special Educational Needs for children on EOTAS ?



If the LA agrees to education otherwise than at school, whether they fund it or not, and the child has a statement of special educational needs, the LA still has a duty to ensure that the child’s needs are met. Thus the statement must remain in force.

 The LA must ensure that parents’ arrangements will ensure suitable, provision, including provision for the child’s special educational needs. Thus the LA will normally send someone round to inspect the provision offered.

If the LA agrees that the provision is suitable they can either:

  • Name EOTAS in Part 4 and describe the provision in Part 3. In these circumstances the LA would fund the provision
  • State the type of school the LA consider appropriate in Part 4 but go on to say that: “parents have made their own arrangements under section 7 of the Education Act 1996.”In these circumstances the LA would not fund the provision. If the parents wanted funding they would need to register an appeal with the Tribunal .


If the LA does not agree that the parents are making appropriate provision they are not absolved of their responsibility to the child. This could mean that the parents are told that their child must attend a school named in Part 4 of the Statement. If the parents refuse to send their child to that school, Education Welfare and Social Services may become involved

The statement will then be reviewed annually for children over 5.