A If your daughter has not started school, you have no legal duty to inform anyone. In your son’s case, you must tell the headteacher and the local education authority that you intend to educate him at home.

An adviser from the local education authority will visit you to discuss your plans to make sure they are sound. You will be revisited to make sure the plans are working. If they are not, and do not improve, you could be served with a school attendance order requiring you to send your child to school.

Most local education authorities are reasonably sympathetic these days to home educators – an estimated 20,000 families are doing it.

Contact Education Otherwise, the national support network for parents who educate their children at home, for a wide range of advice, including the materials you might need.

Crucially, they will be able to put you in contact with other families in your area who are home educators. This will give social contacts for both yourself and your children, which may go a long way to countering the isolation that home education can create.

Also, try to involve your children in after-school activities with others of their own age to help them to get used to operating in larger groups. Education Otherwise, PO Box 7420, London N9 9SG, telephone 01580 762448.

Q. My brother-in-law would like to send his daughter to do her sixth- form studies in this country . Which are the best independent girls schools in the London area? Mr P.J., London

A. There are a number of first-class fee- paying girls’ schools in London, but they all have individual characteristsics that will each suit some girls better than others.

To make the best possible choice, it is essential for her to be able to look round a few schools herself with her parents before deciding which school (if any) is going to suit her. The Girls Public Day Schools Trust runs 13 academic girls schools in the Greater London area. Contact the trust at 26 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AN. Telephone 0171-222 9595.

The Independent Schools Information Service can also help. Contact ISIS at 56 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6AG. Telephone 0171-630 8793/4. ISIS has an international service, which helps parents living overseas to find the right school for their child or children.

Unless the child has special needs, ISIS will not recommend one school as being more suitable than another, but may well suggest a range to consider.

Wendy Berliner

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