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De-registration from a School

What is deregistration?

deregistration happens when a a parent of a child instructs the school to remove a child from the school register either to send to another school or to home educate the child.

In england deregistration is governed by Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 and for Wales by the Education (Pupil Registration) (Wales) Regulations 2010. While these regulations have small differences they are broadly similar.

How does a parent deregister a child

Deregistration must be in writing preferably by letter sent by recorded delivery or taken in by hand. It should correctly identify the child and state clearly that the child is receiving education otherwise than at school. The letter should be signed by a parent.

Under the Education Act 1996, a parent includes anyone and everyone with parental responsibility or anyone "who has care of" the child in question. The education act is very broad in its definition of a parent.

Can the school refuse?

Normally deregistration is a right in law. There are three circumstances which restrict this right:

Special Schools

where a local authority has made arrangements for a child to attend at a special school and the child has become a registered pupil at the special school (that is by attending at that school and for that reason being properly placed on the register there), the child cannot be removed from the admission register without the consent of the
local authority who made the arrangements.

However, permission may not be unreasonably withheld. Parents may challenge a refusal to deregister with the secretary of state and the courts.

SEN statements are not grounds for refusing to deregister and special units in 'normal' schools are not the same as special schools. Therefore no permission is required to deregister from a special unit at a 'normal' school.

School Attendance Orders

Where a school attendance order is in force the parents should seek to have this revoked by the LA on the grounds that the parents are now providing a suitable education 'otherwise' than at school. If they fail to do this the child will remain on the register and the parents could be prosecuted or issued with a penalty notice for failing to ensure regular attendance.

Education supervision Orders

The parents must either seek to persuade the supervisor to allow home education or apply to have ESO's revoked before deregistering their child. While ESO's are powerful, draconian tools they are extremely rare.

What should the school do next?

Providing there are no SAO and the child is not attending a special school the child MUST be deregistered either immediately or from the date of commencement of home education, whichever is the later date.

The school has no power to refuse or delay deregistration or apply further conditions prior to allowing deregistration such as home inspection or checks on the suitability of provision.

Neither can the LA or any other body instruct the school to refuse or delay deregistration.

NB: A Refusal or delay in deregistering a child is a criminal offence and can lead to the head teacher being fined up to £200.

Informing the LEA

The head teacher should inform the LA as soon as the grounds for deletion are met in england or within ten days following the day on which the child's name was deleted in Wales. (regulation 12.3)

Child protection

Home education is not of itself a cause for concern to child protection teams. Home education is an accepted and widely used parental choice in the UK. Concerns raised with child protection teams on the sole grounds that a child is being home educated may be regarded as malicious.

On the other hand if the school has genuine concerns regarding a child's welfare and a judgment is made that these are serious in nature then the usual local child protection policy should be initiated.

What should LEAs do next?

The LA has no duty to make "safe and well visits" purely because a family decides to HE.

If an LA decides that a family making that decision merits for that reason a referral to child protection, it is likely that the grounds for such an application already existed and a referral should have been made while the child was at school and any such referral should already have been undertaken.

While some families welcome visits they do not have to allow a visit. Specifically, safe and well visits have no basis in law and families may justifiably refuse them without prejudice.

If the LA has genuine concerns about a child's welfare that are considered significant and immediate then these should be passed on to the local child protection teams without delay in accordance with local child protection policies. NB: Home education is not of itself grounds for concern for a child's welfare.

While the LEA may want to contact the family sooner, the family have a right in law to expect reasonable time before having to supply details about their provision, IMO this should reasonably be 4-6 weeks minimum. The actual time should vary depending upon circumstances.

Contact with the family should, in the first instance, be by letter. Families have the right to have their choice respected and contact should be polite and state clearly that the LA understand the parents legal right to home educate. Initial contact might also reasonably offer support in mediating school/home problems.

The LA might reasonable offer to put the family in contact with other local and national home education networks and explain any local arrangements supporting home educating families.

Unless the family refuse to respond to requests for contact within a reasonable length of time, not less than two weeks, the LA should not 'doorstep' the family or persistently telephone the family.

NB: Attempts to repeatedly doorstep a family who are refusing a visit or unjustifiably report them to child protection teams or even repeatedly telephone families when they have asked to be written to, may put the LA in breach of article 8 of the ECHR and anti harassment legislation.

CME guidance

Children known to be home educated are in no way missing education and should not be included in actions in respect of CME protocols. Paragraph 18 of the CME Statutory Guidance refers the Local Authority back to the Department of Education EHE guidance to Local Authorities for procedures relating to elective home educators.

© Mike Fortune-Wood 2011

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