Danger Sign: Authorities Act Outside the Law to Seize Control of Home Education in Northern Ireland?

Sarah Dickinson


In an atmosphere of increasing state interest in the private lives of children, a draft home education policy now under consultation in Northern Ireland represents a significant shift in the relationship between state, parent and child.

The law on home education in Northern Irish law is the same as in England but the titles are different. The provision of education is a parental duty: “The parent of every child... [must provide an education] ...either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.” (Section 45 Education and Libraries Northern Ireland Order 1986) and “If it appears to a board that a parent of a child of compulsory school age in its area is failing to perform the duty”... then the Boards have a duty to make enquiries (Schedule 13 of the same Order).

Instead of Local Authorities Northern Ireland currently has five Education and Library Boards (ELBs or Boards).  These were due to be replaced by the Education and Skills Authority (ESA) but a lack of agreement in the Assembly has led to...


Home education; Educational alternatives; progressive education; alternative education; difference; education policy

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