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EXPLAINED: Is home schooling legal in Austria?

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EXPLAINED: Is home schooling legal in Austria?
School's out in Austria, with several discounts for good grades. Picture by Element5 on Unsplash

Homeschooling is banned or heavily restricted in several European countries. It is allowed in Austria, but under clear limitations, and its popularity is declining sharply recently.


Due to geographical problems accessing schools or the special needs of a child – as well as other practical and ideological differences –  parents have sometimes seen homeschooling as an alternative. In Austria though, it comes with restrictions that many families decide not to bother with. So far in the 2022/2023 school year, the number of homeschooled children in Austria has fallen from around 7,500 in 2021/2022 to just over 4,000 this school year.

Even that sharp decline still leaves the number of home-schooled children above the 2,500 seen before the pandemic.

For parents from other parts of the world, particularly English-speaking countries, they are used to rules for home schooling children which are relatively relaxed.

In Europe however, the rules can be strict - or homeschooling can be banned entirely. 

While it is constitutionally guaranteed in Italy and Ireland, other countries like the Netherlands and Sweden ban the practice.

Neighbouring Germany has completely banned homeschooling, while in Switzerland it depends on the canton. 

EXPLAINED: What are the rules for homeschooling children in Switzerland?

Common justifications for banning homeschooling include a need to ensure children receive the same moral and ideological foundation, a desire to ensure school attendance, a lack of social skills among homeschooled children and concerns about the standard of education.


Can you homeschool your children in Austria? 

Homeschooling is permitted in Austria. A right to homeschool your kids has been enshrined in Austrian law as part of the Compulsory Education Act of 1985.

Private schools or homeschooling must be “at least equivalent” to the education a person receives at state schools. 

Parents who want to homeschool their kids need to inform the regional school board (Bezirksschulrat) at the start of each year. 

Generally, these requests will be approved unless it is established that the homeschooling is not equivalent to that of the public system. 

If the request is rejected, parents can appeal to the local education commission (Landesschulrat) to have their case heard. 

Parents do not need any special qualifications to homeschool their kids. 

Standards are maintained by a requirement for each child to pass annual state exams - the same exams sat by children attending schools. 

If the homeschooled child fails the exam, he or she is required to attend school the following year. 

Is homeschooling common in Austria? 

Although it is legally allowed, homeschooling is relatively rare in Austria, as outlined above. 

The figure has declined recently but is still up since the pandemic - particularly among Covid sceptic parents who oppose vaccinations and/or mask rules.* 

While numbers are uncertain, there are believed to be a handful of German children homeschooled in Austria due to the former country’s ban on the practice. 

Schulpflicht: How Austria pioneered mandatory schooling for all


Why do people homeschool in Austria? 

Of course, the reasons for homeschooling your kids are the same in every country, but one added element which is relevant to Local readers is the desire to teach your kids in English or another language. 

While this may appeal to parents from elsewhere, keep in mind that the annual exams must be in German. 

*This refers to genuine homeschooling and not students who were taught from home due to Covid-related school closures and associated restrictions. 


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