Home-educated teenagers aged 14-16 can sometimes go to college part-time, funded directly by the government. Funding is guaranteed as long as the college is happy to take the child, but sometimes colleges don't know this.
There are several different ways that teenagers can attend college under the age of 16. Some are part-time and some are full-time.
Note that "full-time" college attendance sometimes only involves attending for 3 days a week, depending on the timetable.
College Schemes for Home-Educated Students Edit
Some colleges will accept part-time home-educated students aged 14-16. There is a special scheme only for home-educated students in England, and it is different from the national scheme for 14-16 year-old school pupils to attend college.
Home-educated students can still apply to join the national 14-16 programme at participating colleges.
The Infill scheme for Home Educated Children: Part-time Edit
A college can admit home educated students to any course as "infill" students , ie filling empty places.
The home - educated students may be:
- in a class with other students, often 16-19 year-olds, OR
- in a separate class just for home-educated teens, if there are enough of them.
Both are funded the same way, under the Infill scheme. This is funded directly as if they were aged 16-19. The family does not need to pay for this - funding is given directly to the college by the Education Funding Agency and the college doesn't need to claim from the Local Authority . In the past, there was some discretionary funding available from LAs for this, but few actually used it.
It's entirely up to the college whether to admit HE under-16s ; they do not have to accept you. Although you have a right to a school place, you do not have a right to attend college under this scheme.
Students can do courses at Level 1 (eg Btec Level 1, GCSE grade D-G), Level 2 (GCSE grade A*-C), or Level 3 (A-levels, BTec Diplomas).
Many colleges don't know about this special scheme and will assume you're asking about the national 14-16 scheme, which is much more difficult for colleges to comply with than the HE scheme. It's important to read up on it first and you may well need to educate the college about the scheme.
For home-ed students, the parent still has overall responsibility for the student's education and so the college doesn't have to make all the special arrangements which are required under the national 14-16 scheme.
The government has confirmed that any FE college can admit home-ed students for part-time courses, without needing any special permission or to fulfil any extra requirements. It's entirely between the college and the student's family. Colleges do not need to be participating in the national 14-16 scheme in order to take on home-ed students.
References for all this are at the bottom of this page, with direct links to the relevant government guidance.
More details on EdYourself 14-16 College places
National 14-16 College Scheme: Full-time Edit
When you mention 14 year-olds going to college, most people will think you are talking about the national 14-16 college schemes. Some colleges will take 14-16 year-old school pupils:
- by an arrangement with the Local Authority, where the LA or school pays the fees, or
- via Direct Recruitment, which means anyone in that age group can apply to go and the college will be paid directly by the Education and Skills Funding Agency.
The national scheme for 14-16 year-olds is a big undertaking for colleges as they become effectively schools for that age group, and there are lots of additional responsibilities for them, eg they have to take overall responsibility for the student's education, provide a dedicated area for 14-16 year-olds, and more.
Home-educated children can join these schemes but you will normally be expected to attend full-time and to behave in many ways like a school pupil. The Infill scheme for home - educated children is much more flexible.
University Technical Colleges - Full-time Edit
"University technical colleges (UTCs) are government-funded schools that offer 14–18 year olds a great deal more than traditional schools. They teach students technical and scientific subjects in a whole new way and are educating the inventors, engineers, scientists and technicians of tomorrow"
These are technically schools. The attraction for home educators is that they have an intake at age 14 and offer a more specialised education than regular schools. You may not have heard of them because they were only established recently, but they are opening up in many areas. See the University Technical Colleges site for an up-to-date list.
Starting Full-time Level 3 Courses Early Edit
It is sometimes possible to start college full-time under the age of 16, but studying for A-levels or other Level 3 qualifications alongside students who are aged 16-19. This is relatively common for home-educated teenagers. It's normally only an option if they already have 5+ GCSEs at grade C/4 and above (this is known as a "Full Level 2 Qualification"). In this situation, they are funded as if they were aged 16-19 and the normal 16-19 funding regulations apply, not the home-ed ones.
The relevant section of the funding regulations 2019-2020 is "Students Under 16", p33.
134. The ESFA uses the standard 16 to 19 funding formula to fund students under 16 who hold qualifications that are at least equivalent to a full level 2 (achieved at an earlier age than normal) who wish to enrol on a full level 3 course. Institutions do not need to meet the direct recruitment criteria to enrol and record funding for these students.
Funding is available in this situation, but it is still up to the college to decide whether to accept under 16s or not. They may not wish to because of safeguarding obligations.
Which colleges are accepting home-educated students part-time? Edit
There are many home-ed students nationwide who are attending part-time 16+ college courses at under 16 years old, fully funded. There is no national list of colleges which accept home-educated students in this way, but the best partial list of those which have special home-ed schemes is on http://edyourself.org/articles/14-16collegeFAQ.php. Note that other colleges may well have individual home-ed teenagers taking up spare places in classes with 16+ students; these are just the ones which have an established home-ed scheme.
Here are some examples, but do see the page above for the most up-to-date list.
Lewisham College EHE scheme (EHE stands for Elective Home Education).
City and Islington College, London (CANDI) - planning a pilot scheme to start September 2019.
The College or Local Authority says there is no funding! Edit
There is definitely funding for the 2019-2020 academic year, as long as the college usually takes 16-19 year-olds who can apply directly, and the home-educated students only attend part-time. This funding comes direct from the government funding agency, not from the LA or a school.
The home-ed funding scheme is unusual and sometimes Local Authority or college staff don't know about it. If you email them these links and screenshots, they can check it out for themselves.
This is from the 2019-2020 funding guidance, so it is valid for the whole of that academic year.
Guidance on 14-16 year-olds enrolling in college. Edit
Information for further education and sixth-form colleges when directly enrolling 14 to 16 year olds for academic year 2019 to 2020.
Note that, despite the title of the document, the home-ed funding is for part-time attendance only. This is explained in the screenshot and on the document.
Funding Guidance from the Education and Skills Funding Agency Edit
|Funding Guidance For Young People, 2019-2020 . Funding rates and formula. April 2019|
You can see more detail on the text of these documents below, in the References section.
Here is more detail on the documents you will need to show to a college which is considering taking home-educated students.
Funding Rates and Formula 2019-2020 Edit
This is the pricipal reference. It shows that the Education and Skills Funding Agency will pay for home-educated students aged 14-16 to attend a college, paying as if they were 16-19 students. It confirms that colleges don't need to meet the criteria for the national 14-16 college scheme.
Education and Skills Funding Agency
Funding Guidance for Young People 2019 to 2020 - Funding Rates and Formula April 2019 Version 1
135. The ESFA also funds children who are currently electively home educated (EHE) who attend general FE and sixth form colleges. These students can only be enrolled and funded for part time courses – if an institution recruits them for full time courses, then they are no longer home educated and the institution will need to meet the criteria for direct recruitment. (p33)
See also the section especially on home-educated 14-16 year-olds in the guidance on enrolment of 14-16 year-olds in college. Here is the text of the relevant section, updated 31 March 2019:
Electively home educated 14- to 15-year-olds Edit
Colleges sometimes admit children aged 14 or 15 who are being electively home educated, to take courses on an infill basis by arrangement with the local authority or with the parents/carers. Where these courses are at level 3, they are funded by entering the student on the ILR and the student then counts for lagged funding in just the same way as if they were 16- to 18-year-olds.
Prior to September 2013, students on courses below level 3 were funded either directly by the local authority, or sometimes by the parents/carers, paying a fee to the college. These arrangements changed with effect from September 2013. Colleges now enter these students on the ILR and they count towards the college’s student numbers for lagged funding in the following year.
These students can only be enrolled and funded for part time courses – if an institution recruits them for full time courses, then they are no longer home educated and the institution will need to meet the criteria for direct recruitment
Local authorities and parent/carers should no longer be expected to pay fees for this provision.
Colleges make such local arrangements, as they deem appropriate. There is no national prescribed model for provision to these students and they do not form a part of the arrangements for the full-time enrolment of 14 -16 year-olds in further education and sixth-form colleges. Further information on elective home education is provided on GOV.UK. Further guidance for local authorities is also published on GOV.UK.
See also Funding Guidance for Local Authorities on Home Educated Children p7, where it says:
Attendance at FE Colleges
7. With effect from September 2013 FE and sixth form colleges can admit pupils aged 14 or 15 and receive funding for them direct from the Education Funding Agency. This includes not only specific provision for groups of pupils but also individual admissions of pupils who would otherwise be home educated, and who may well be educated with young people aged 16-18. We would therefore not expect local authorities to be paying fees to the colleges for these pupils.
NB Home Education is the UK term for what is referred to in the USA as homeschooling or home schooling. The term "home education" is preferred in the UK as it is considered to encompass all approaches to education, not only a school model.