Child benefit and home education 16+


We have received a couple of queries about child benefit for electively home educated children aged 16+.

For accurate information about the child benefit rules, please refer to this explanation on the Schoolhouse website. [Note the latest ruling regarding OU study in the post below]

Please also note that child benefit regulations apply throughout the UK.


New ruling on OU study for home educated students over 16

Many thanks to Doreen of Schoolhouse for providing an update on the new Child Benefit ruling on Open University study for home educated young people.

Until recently, being over 16 and taking any university level study meant a loss of eligibility for Child Benefit. The good news is that this has now changed. It is thanks to Doreen's efforts that the new ruling has not excluded home educated teens.

Brief overview

An over 16 year old will remain eligible for Child Benefit even if registered for an OU course as long as the OU course is supplementary to the home-education; that is, the home education must continue to be full-time (an average of at least 12 hours per week in term-time), and the hours of home education must be significantly more than the hours of OU study.

Full details (from Doreen)

The ruling is that provided an over 16yo young person is in full time further/non-advanced education and the OU course is supplementary to that then CB will continue. Full time means an average of more than 12 hours a week in term time is spent on: tuition, practical work, supervised study, taking exams.

So in school this means that pupils would be doing GCSEs etc for most of their attendance and perhaps a couple of periods on the OU work.

As always, home educated young people are looked at on a case by case basis. For CB to continue, the home ed provision must be full time at a non-advanced/FE level with the home education provision being significantly more than the number of hours spent on the OU course.

Again full time further/ non advanced education means that the home education provision must add up to 12 hours spent on tuition, practical work and supervised study. The home education provision does not have to include studying for a formal non advanced course (e.g. GCSE); nor does it have to include taking exams but must constitute a suitable education, e.g. the young person may not be studying English in a formal structure but is learning English and communication skills in other ways, doing home economics by learning to cook and have a vegetable patch.

If studying only an OU course full time at over 16 then you do not quality for CB. The OU course must be supplementary to non advanced education.

As always, my contact at FTES says that if phoning the helpline on any matter concerning home educated young people that parents should insist on the enquiry being forwarded to FTES. All written enquiries should have FAO FTES as they are the only ones who know about home education and CB.
I thought my letters to the bosses were ignored but FTES say they had a conflab about the issue and this is the ruling...though they do emphasize that this is applied case by case and that the crucial part is that the home ed provision is full time and at a non advanced level. It would have been good if the bosses had got off their behinds and sent a reply without me having to hassle my contact.
I will get Toby to update the SH website - probably over the weekend.
She's around here somewhere and working as hard as ever for home educators. :biggrin1:
Not really doing very much at all these days though I have been sneaking peeks at the AHed list, keeping up to date with what has been happening around the review sotb and pop up here when I can. :peep:

I first wrote to CB about this OU ruling over 18 months ago so it has been a bit of a slog getting it pinned down. Still every little helps!


You've done (and are doing) a magnificent job. As Sheila says, don't overdo. I'm so grateful to you for this. Youngster (17) just starting a beginner OU course (10 points). She's terrified of speaking to her tutor over the phone, poor chick. My baby suffers from that dreadful and underestimated disease Perfectionism!

Well done again, Doreen. Lovely to 'see' you here.


Bennett Elmo

New member

You normally qualify for Child Benefit if you have children under 16 (or under 20 and in relevant education or training) and you live in the UK.
16 or 17 years old and has recently left relevant education or training - however, they must have registered for work or training with the Careers or Connexions Service, Ministry of Defence, Department for Employment and Learning (in Northern Ireland) or an Education and Library Board (in Northern Ireland)


I am revisiting this thread as there has recently been an increase in complaints about child benefit being suspended, not just for 16+ home educated young people but also for younger siblings who are in full time school education, as a result of CB staff's consistent failure to apply the proper regulations pertaining to eligibility.

Having just see the above post, I should point out that there is no requirement for a young person to have
registered for work or training with the Careers or Connexions Service, Ministry of Defence, Department for Employment and Learning (in Northern Ireland) or an Education and Library Board (in Northern Ireland).
Full time elective home based education does not preclude the payment of child benefit as long as the young person is continuing in HE, and there is no need to be registered with any external 'provider' to qualify.

I have been advising enquirers to contact their MPs as a matter of course as the new government might actually do something about a problem which has been ongoing for years without any sign of an effective resolution.

Anyone contacting their MP may wish to include the following links for ease of reference:

Schoolhouse website: Child Benefit and home education

Home Ed Forums news:

Home Ed Forums thread:

Home Ed Forums thread:


Can I just cadge a quick q. on the initial form - I've written 'continuing full time elective home education, please forward to FTES section' with an end date of dd1s 20th birthday. What else should I do, if anything? Can I also just send this form direct to FTES (and is that the current correct name)? Is there a named person I can send it to?

Argh! Not that dd1 is sure she doesn't want to 'stop' but I'd rather work on the continuing to basis etc.

One further thing - does FTES automatically update the CTC system or am I going to have to have this kerfuffle with them as well?


You could try ringing the helpline, but stay on until you get a real person. Don't bother with the front line staff. They know nothing.

You'll probably have the same fun and games with the CTC. None of these people bother to talk to each other apparently.



Well-known member
Anyone? Do I just throw the form back at them and pray that it gets to someone with half a brain then?
If you are talking about the child benefit form, it needs to go to the FTES, who deal with home ed; otherwise you are very likely to get the wrong decision. FTES may send you another form. Head your reply, "For the attention of the FTES" and put the same at the top of your form.
Good point there, Llondel.

Once upon a time (a long time ago...) I thought it would be really good and helpful if the government could get its act together and have everything set up so we didn't have to keep repeating all the stuff ad nauseum and we didn't need to apply for stuff because they'd know we were eligible and just pay it. Then I learned that governments, even British ones, are not always benign, and I saw how such a database could be abused. So now I'm happy for each department to keep its own records containing the minimum amount of information needed to do its job and I'm happy to go through the rigmarole each time and pay a bit more in taxes for that inefficiency because it's less risk to individual freedom that way.


Yes, I agree. There's always safety, too, in the fact that most people/systems are woefully inefficient and couldn't keep an effective database if they were paid for it (er, which they are!)