The deregistration procedure is different in each part of the UK (Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and wales, the Channel Islands and The Isle of Man each has its own procedure) This web site only deals with England and Wales where it is very simple. The Law in Wales is only slightly different to that in England. The situation in Scotland, Northern Ireland and elsewhere are considerably different. For more information see:
The following guidance applies only to deregistration in England and Wales
Firstly is your child registered?
Only a parent can register a child. Some LAs believe that you agree to registration if you sign a statement of special educational needs (SEN Statement). This is not so.
Your child will be deemed to be registered if you have been offered and accepted a school place in writing, perhaps even if your child does not attend. A court might also deem you to be registered if you have accepted arrangements from the LA to transport your child to school, (for example if your child has been statemented to attend a special school and then you accepted travel arrangements made by the school or LA to attend) though this would be a very weak argument and might be overturned should there be an appeal.
Deregistration is not at the discretion of the LA or the Head Teacher. With two exceptions, there are no grounds in law for them to refuse to deregister your child.
If your child attends a normal state school, by that I mean not a special needs school (see below), to deregister your child you must send a letter to the Head Teacher of the school. Your child should then be de registered. The Head Teacher must immediately inform the Local Authority. The LA will probably make contact to ensure that you are providing an education for your child see the FAQ.
Contacting the LA
Unless your child is attending a Special Needs School (see below) there is no requirement for parents contact the LA themselves. This should (in law) be done by the school. If the school fails to inform the LA it is a problem for the LA and the school, it should not have any implications for the parents or child. Similarly there is no advantage to be gained by informing the LA of your child's deregistration. My advice, therefore, is not to inform the LA yourselves but rather to wait for the LA to contact you. If they do not do so then leave the matter as it stands. LAs have little if anything to offer you.
Divorced and Separated Couples (with shared parental responsibility)
Since December 2003 a father who appears on the birth certificate, regardless of marital status at the time of the birth automatically has parental responsibility.
The way this works is that both parties have parental responsibility and can exercise it unilaterally. So, providing there are no court orders specifically saying that one or other parent cannot do so, either parent can send in a de-registration letter without needing the other parent's consent, in the same way as one parent can consent unilaterally to medical treatment on behalf of their child.
The other parent could then seek to challenge the decision to remove the child from school by applying for a specific issue order. This would be an issue between the two parents and the court, it would not alter the validity of the origional de-registration letter as far as the school or local authority are concerned.
Clearly if this is likely to be a contentious issue it is probably best, if you are a parent considering home education, to ensure that your ex-partner is agreeable to the decision in advance as fighting court action can be stressful, time consuming and expensive, not to mention, hardly in the best interests of the child if it can be avoided. If the matter does later go to court, you are likely to be criticised by the court for acting without consulting the other parent.
If your child is attending a private school funded by yourself, then you deregister in the usual way, even if the school is a special school (see below). The head teacher should inform your LA that the child is no longer attending the school but many fail to do so.
If your child is attending a designated Special Needs school arranged and paid for by the LA, then you need consent to deregister (Education (Pupil Registration) Regulation 8(2) 2006). This includes any state special needs school and any independent special needs school arranged by the LA.
A decision by the LA should be prompt. Refusals must be properly considered and with very good reason which should be given to the parents. Refusals are rare and can be challenged in court. In the unlikely circumstances of a parent being refused permission to home educate I strongly suggest you see a lawyer competent in dealing with home education issues. It should be noted that refusals are exceedingly rare. In most cases of my experience requests for deregistration are gratefully received as it removes the burden of providing expensive education from the LA.
Independent (private) Special Schools
Parents do not require permission to deregister a child from an independent special needs school where the place was arranged and paid for by the parents.
'Special Units' at 'Normal' Schools
A special unit at a "normal" school is not within the legal definition of a "special needs school" so again permission is not required for deregistration.
Health Care Provision
The LA and health authority may not refuse to provide other health related care on the grounds that it is only provided at a special school. however this claim is common. It may be necessary for you to fight for the alternative provision to which your child in entitled.
Statements of Educational Needs (SEN's)
A child having a statement of special educational needs is not of itself reason to require permission to deregister and is not a valid reason for refusal to deregister. So a refusal to deregister cannot be that the child has a statement of special educational needs but must include valid well argued reasons.
However you should note that the law (Education act 1995 Section 7) says that you must provide an education appropriate to your child's special needs. Thus you would be wise to examine what any SEN statement actually says so that you can deal with issues as they arise. You do not need to meet your child's needs in the way they are stated in part 4 of the statement, a statement of special needs cannot in any way obligate a parent to do anything in particular but the parents will nonetheless need to meet their child's needs somehow. For specialist information in this case look at he-special-UK.
A Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) is not a special school (despite what some LA's might tell you. s19(2) of the 1996 Education Act states:
"any school ... maintained by an LA which (a) is specially organized to provide education for [children of csa who by reason of illness or exclusion from school or other similar reason] and (b) is NOT a county school or A SPECIAL SCHOOL, shall be known as a "PRU"
Thus a PRU cannot be a special school as the 1996 act gives them exclusive definitions and therefore you do not require consent to deregister your child from a PRU. Howerver, sometimes attendance at a PRU is the result of a Statutory Attendance Order (SAO) which must be considered when deregistering.
It was almost certainly the intention of the legislators that deregistration should be not possible for children with an SAO in force and it is the view of the DFE that permission is required. However, it is thought by some that following the letter of the law an SAO is not grounds for requiring consent to deregister. Yet again, the situation surrounding SAO's is complex and this idea has never been tested in law. Therefore, extreme caution should be exercised in taking this view. You are best advised to take legal advice before you attempt to deregister a child with an SAO. If you need help finding someone with experience contact me here.
It is important that you send the deregistration letter by recorded delivery so that you have evidence of having sent the letter to the school as it is a criminal offence to keep a child from a school to which the child is a registered attendee. It is advisable that you obtain written confirmation from the school that the child has been deregistered.
Below are separate deregistration Letters for England and Wales. Copy the appropriate letter, filling in and altering the personal details in italics particular to your circumstances.
Deregistration Letter for England (word file)
Deregistration Letter for Wales (word file)