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The deregistration procedure is different in each part of the UK (Scotland, Northern Ireland, England, wales, the Channel Islands and The Isle of Man as 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?
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 has not attended. 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 well be overturned should you appeal.
Is your child of compulsory School Age (CSA)
Your child is of "compulsory school age" on the 1st January, 1st April or 1st September following their 5th birthday. Children becoming 5 years old between 1st January and 31st March are of compulsory school age at the beginning of the term after 1st April.
if your child is registered at a school and is of CSA then you must formally deregister the child (see following). If your child is not yet 5 s/he does not require to be formally deregistered.
If your child is not of CSA but is attending a school (nursery or reception class, rising 5s etc).
The school (nursery or reception) must equally deregister your child upon request, however, the child should be de-register under s8(3) of the Pupil Registration Regulations rather than s(1) or s(2). This is important because it effects how the deregistration is treated by the school and subsequently the local authority. It is not strictly necessary to send in a formal deregistration letter. However it's probably wise to send them a simple letter informing the school that you are no longer intending to send your child to the school and want them to remove him or her from the register.
You should however be aware that in some locations the Children Missing Education (CME) departments are being made aware of such deregistrations and the CME departments may initiate monitoring and attempt to treat your family as though your child is of CSA. While they may be informed, it is not legally supported to monitor or to treat your child as CME. If this happens contact either a local home education group or join one of the forums and ask for support and information.
Who Registers a Child?
Only a parent can register a child. The Local Authority may not register a child at a school without your active consent. Some LAs believe that you agree to registration if you sign a statement of special educational needs (SEN Statement) which names a school. This is not so, section 4 of a statement cannot require a parent to do anything. Section 4 of a statement is aimed solely at the local authority and since the education authority cannot register a child themselves, the statement cannot be regarded as a document requiring the parents to register their child.
Who is a parent?
The Education Act 1996 has a special definition of a parent for the purposes of the act which includes anyone with the care of the child such as other family members. It could even include older siblings, grandparents and uncles etc. So it may include people other than those normally regarded as parents. But can not include the local authority unless there is an Educational Supervision Order in place (see below).
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 original de-registration letter as far as the school or local authority are concerned. a successful challenge to a de-registration letter would (or rather could) lead to the parent seeking a new place at the school. It would not mean that the initial deregistration was invalid leading to the school having to return the child to the school roll. This distinction is important where school places are scarce as the child's place on the school role may have already been taken by another child by the time the courts make a ruling.
Clearly, if this is likely to be a contentious issue and highly dissruptive for the child. it is therefore best 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 go to court and you did not at least attempt to obtain the consent of your ex-partner, you are likely to be criticised by the court for acting without consulting the other parent. It is always advisable to try to get the consent of all relavent parties prior to deregistration. Although clearly this will not be possible in all cases.
Where you have attempted to obtain consent from the other parent and failed, it is advisable to seek advice on how to proceed before acting. Online forums may be able to help with this.
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 from the LA of providing expensive education.
'Special Units' at 'normal' state schools
A special unit at a "normal or standard" school is not within the legal definition of a "special needs school" so again permission is not required for deregistration.
A Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) cannot be a special school (despite what some LA's might tell you. s19(2) of the Education Act 1996 states:
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. However, sometimes attendance at a PRU is the result of a Statutory Attendance Order (SAO) which must be considered when deregistering.
Standard Academies are treated exactly the same way as are state schools, unless they are also special schools, no permission is required.
Independent (private) Schools and Independent Special Schools
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. No permission is required. The head teacher should inform your LA that the child is no longer attending the school but many fail to do so.
Statements of Educational Needs (SEN's)
If a child with a statement is attending a 'normal' school, no permission is required.
Even where a child attends a special school, having a statement of special educational needs is still not of itself reason to refuse to deregister that child. Any refusal to deregister from a special school cannot simply be that the child has a statement of special educational needs, but must include valid well argued, reasonable and specific reasons. An unreasonable refusal to de-register can be challenged in court or by referring the matter to the Secretary of State for Education.
However you should note that the law (Section 7, Education act 1996 ) 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 it highlights. 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.
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. Nor may they say you must transport your child unreasonable distances to obtain treatment. Your child has a right of access to NHS provision regardless of school attendance.
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 specialist legal advice before you attempt to deregister a child with an SAO.
Educational Supervision Orders are rare and draconian measures. They are orders made by the court at the request of the Local Authority which effectively removes the parental right to determine the education of the child. Effectively the LA become the parents of the child with respect to educational functions. Parents are expected to comply with LA decissions relating to the education of the child for which the order applies. Failure to do so could lead to the parents loosing custody of their child completely.
I'd like to emphasise these are extremely rare orders. On average fewer than 300 of them are issued each year in the whole of England and wales, (fewer than 2 per LA per year). They are expensive for the LA to administrate and courts are reluctant to issue them.
Parents considering temporary deregistration should bear in mind that re-registration at the same school may not be possible. Once a child has been deregisterered, the place is made available to other children on the school's waiting list. Many schools of course do not have waiting lists, but some do, particularly those in our larger metropolitan areas and popular schools around the country. Non-the-less, parents may still consider a temporary deregistration to be in their child's best interests, but parents should consider what they will do should the child be subsequently refused re-registration, in particular, how they will fulfil their legal obligation to provide a suitable education to their child.
Warning: Government advice
Due to the pandemic there has been a rapid increase in the numbers of parents deregistering, particularly in England. In October 2020, the government issued advice on a DFE Blog. The advice the government have offered is, at least in part, wrong in law and could lead to parents being prosecuted. In particular it fails to mention the requirement to seek permission to deregister where a child is registered with a special needs school.
It also advises that parents should meet with the LA, School and social workers prior to deregistration taking place. There is no provision in law requiring any such action. It is highly probable that the purpose of such meetings is to coerce parents into reconsidering their decision to home educate. Parents who feel intimidated by the expectation that they meet with these bodies, should be reassured that such meetings are legally unecissary. If parents decide they do not wish to meet with them, a polite refusal to meet may be sent in reply.
Basic procedure to deregister from a 'standard' school:
If your child attends a normal state school, by that I mean not a special needs school (see above), 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.)
Deregistration is not normally at the discretion of the LA or the Head Teacher. With three exceptions, there are no grounds in law for them to refuse to deregister your child.
Contacting the LA
Unless your child is attending a Special Needs School 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 has no 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 and there is no requirement for them to respond.
It is important that you send the deregistration letter by recorded delivery as if the school claims not to have received it they could initiate criminal proceedings against you for truancy. Therefore, it is important that you have physical evidence of having sent the letter to the school. It is also 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)
For other regions, please refer to local home education support groups.
Refusal to deregister.
On rare occasions schools are ill informed regarding the law or their local authority have imposed their own proceedures on the school which do not follow the correct legal process and refuse or delay de-registration. While illegal, this may not be too much of a burden providing deregistration does eventually occur.
However, some schools insist that you go in to discuss the deregistration, which you may consider a burden or even harassment. Others even go as far as to insist that the child should continue attending school while approval is sought from the Local authority and have threatened to prosecute parents for their child's none attendance during this period.
To delay or refuse deregistration in this way is completely illegal. The head teacher is exposing themselves to a criminal prosecution and attempts to fine the parents for their child's none attendance is unenforceable in law. I therefore recommend that a letter along the lines of the following template is sent out reminding the school of their obligations.
The law regarding registrations are contained in the Pupil Registration Regulations 2006 which has been amended several times.