Teaching your child at home
You have a constitutional right to educate your child at home. The Irish Constitution recognises the family as the primary educator of the child and defines the duties and responsibilities for parents and the State in the education of children.
If you choose to teach your child at home, often called home schooling or home education, you do not need a formal teaching qualification. You do not need to follow the national curriculum, but you must ensure that your child receives a certain minimum education.
You can choose a suitable approach to teaching your child based on their learning needs and what is appropriate to their age, aptitude and ability.
The information in this document is for people who choose to teach their child at home on a long-term basis. You can also find the answers to some frequently asked questions about home schooling.
Educating your child at home
To teach your child at home, you must:
- Provide a minimum education
- Register with TUSLA's Alternative Education Assessment and Registration Service (AEARS)
Section 14 of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 provides for parents to educate their children in places other than recognised schools, such as in the home or in private schools. You do not need to follow a national curriculum. However, the Act states that parents must ensure their child receives a certain minimum education.
A recognised school is a school overseen by the Department of Education. An independent school (or non-recognised school) is a school that is not overseen by the Department of Education.
There are detailed Guidelines on the Assessment of Education in places other than recognised schools (pdf). The guidelines provide a working definition of a certain minimum education. They describe home-based education and how it is assessed.
The education should:
- Be suited to your child's age, ability, aptitude and personality
- Be responsive to your child’s individual needs and take account of the areas of learning that interest your child
- Ensure that your child's personal potential is enhanced and not suppressed
- Address the immediate and future needs of your child in the context of the cultural, economic and social environment
- Provide a reasonably balanced range of learning experiences, so that no one aspect of your child’s learning is emphasised to the exclusion of others
- Develop your child's personal and social skills and prepare them to be a responsible citizen
- Contribute to your child's moral development
- Provide opportunities for your child to develop their intellectual capacities and understanding
The basic skills that are part of a minimum education include development and progression in oral language, literacy and numeracy. A child would be at a serious disadvantage if their home education programme did not develop these basic skills.
Register with Tusla
You must register your child with Tusla if you plan to teach them at home.
If your child attends an independent school, you should apply to register them through the school. Registration is a legal obligation, but it is not automatic. Parents or guardians are responsible for making an application on behalf of their child. See ‘Registering to teach your child at home’ below.
Registering to teach your child at home
You apply directly to Tusla's Alternative Education Assessment and Registration Service (AEARS) to register to teach your child at home.
AEARS can send you an application form and a copy of the Guidelines on the assessment of education in places other than recognised schools (pdf). You can find more in frequently asked questions.
Tusla then assesses your application to register.
Tusla interview and assessment
When you return the application form, the person who will carry out the assessment will contact you. They will arrange a time and date to interview you. This assessor is experienced in education and is authorised by Tusla to carry out the assessment.
The assessment will focus on:
- The details of the education being provided to your child
- The materials used in the course of the education
- The time spent providing the education
The interview can take place in a venue of your choice and will be based on what you have said in your application. This is called the preliminary assessment. Your assessor will complete a draft assessment report and a copy of this will be forwarded to you for comment. Following the report, your child’s name will either be entered into the register or your case will be referred for a comprehensive assessment.
If Tusla is not able to decide whether you are providing a minimum education, a comprehensive assessment will be carried out. This is more in-depth. The assessor spends some time with you, observing how you teach or work with your child, inspecting your educational materials and talking to your child.
Appealing a decision
If Tusla decides that you are not providing a certain minimum education for your child, it can refuse to register or remove your child’s name from the register. It must inform you of its decision in writing.
You have 21 days to appeal against the decision. The Minister will appoint a committee to hear the appeal and decide on the case.
An appeal committee is made up of a District Court judge, an inspector and another person. You and the assessor are invited to make submissions. Depending on their decision, the committee will:
- Uphold the decision of Tusla to remove or refuse to add your child’s name to the register
- Require Tusla to add your child’s name to the register
- Require Tusla to add your child’s name to the register if you agree to comply with any requirements the appeal committee considers appropriate.
Support for teaching your child at home
If you educate your children at home or in a place other than a recognised school, you are not entitled to financial support from the State.
Home Education Network
The Home Education Network (HEN) is a support and lobby group for home educators in Ireland.
HEN aims to help parents use available resources to develop educational techniques suitable for each child’s needs. Members exchange ideas and experiences of home education through regular meetings and newsletters. Its website has links to research and online information about home education. The network also operates a library service of books on home education for members.
State exams and third level education
Your child can sit Junior and Leaving Certificate examinations at any school by registering with the school in early January of the year that your child will take the exams. Further information is available from the State Examinations Commission.
If your child does not sit State examinations, then entry to third-level education in Ireland is difficult. The normal route into Irish third-level institutions is through the Leaving Certificate.
However, it may also be possible to enter third-level education at aged 17 or 18 without the Leaving Certificate by interview only. You will need to approach your chosen institution to discuss this possibility. There are a variety of courses for the 16-plus age group which are accepted as valid for entry to third-level courses.
You can find out more about further and higher education and training courses from Qualifax - The National Learner's Database.