Latest Update 26-August-2020
The situation is different in the various parts of the UK. This guidance is for England Only.
The expectation is that only those children in the top tier of shielding and those with symptoms or a diagnosis of Covid 19 should not return to school. ALL other children should be returned to school as of the start of the English school Year in September.
Parents who do not return children who should be attending school, may be prosecuted for allowing their child to truant.
General state of play
Many parents are happy to return their children to school but a significant minority are not. Multiple surveys suggest up to 1/3 of parents are unhappy about returning their children to school in September. Many of these parents are now considering deregistration with the intention of home educating until they consider the situation safer.
We strongly suggest exploring all options before taking this course of action.
We suggest that parents work together locally by engaging with other parents, particularly those whose children attend your child's school.
Work together to engage with your school and local authority to find out exactly what policies and arrangements have been made by your specific school to tackle Covid 19.
If the school is reluctant to allow you to see their policies you may have a right to see them using the Freedom of Information act. Similarly you can obtain information from your local authority.
Collective action may increase pressure on schools which show reluctance to engage with you. The careful use of local media may well help. head teachers are sensitive to local headlines along the lines of "Head Teacher refuses to inform parents" for example.
Tell the school exactly what your position is.
Write to the school as a parent and explain exactly what you need. Explain in detail why. Detailing any medical histories relating to the request. You may ask if your doctor is willing to add a note or reference to give weight to your argument. Explain to the school exactly how a return is NOT in the best interests of your child and how it could affect your family.
There is some government advice on how to approach
You may also refer to s175 of the Education Act 2002, which concerns the duty of LA's and schools in ensuring the welfare of a child above all other considerations.
Be clear and precise about what you want, why you want it and your reasoning.
A refusal should be in writing and sent in reasonable time and include their reasons. You can challenge their reasoning and clarify your request and issue further requests with more information. Since this process can take some time, the sooner you begin the better.
Copy in the LA attendance/inclusion team.
The government have today (25-08-20) said that a
phased return is allowed where the school allows it for children
who have found lock down difficult.
There are a number of petitions in progress.
A petition to make flexischooling a right so that under most circumstances schools may not refuse to allow it for at least one day a week.
Flexischooling is where a child is registered at a school but is educated at home part time.
is legal but only with the agreement of the head teacher.
Petition regarding fines
You may be considering deregistration because you
found home education to be a positive experience while you were in
lock down and have made a firm decision to continue home educating.
If that is the case then please see my guide
to deregistration here.
What is deregistration and what does it mean in practice?
Deregistration is the process by which a child is removed from the school register. It is normally undertaken when a child is removed from one school to attend another, such as when a family moves home or when the parents decide to home educate a child.
By deregistering your child you reclaim the total responsibility for all aspects of your child's education as expressed in s7 of the Education act 1996. Home education is the "Otherwise" mentioned in s7 of the Act.
Providing the school is NOT a special school and that there is NO school attendance Order, Educational Supervision Order or Parenting order issued by the courts preventing such a decision, deregistration in England is at the prerogative of the parents. (Similarly for Wales, different rules apply in Scotland and NI.)
So, under most normal circumstances in England the school may neither delay or refuse deregistration.
What if I want to Re-Register my child?
Deregistration should be considered a permanent or at least long term decision since re-registering a child is not automatic.
Schools are likely to fill places once they become available due to deregistration particularly if there is a high demand for places at that school.
Some head teachers may be reluctant to reregister a child once the family has removed them. They may see this as a vote of no confidence in the school and make a return difficult.
This means that if you deregister you cannot guarantee being able to return your child to that school.
You can challenge a refusal to deregister through your Local Authority. by appealing the decision. This is a fairly complex process.
Academies are particularly difficult to challenge.
If your choice of school is refusing to accept your registration and you need help with the process, you should contact your local authority inclusion team and explain your situation. The local authority have a duty to find a school place for all children in their area whose parents want one.
At what point should we deregister
Since the government position remains fluid you should leave a final decision to deregister to the last minute.
You can deregister up to the morning of the day on which you intend NOT to send your child to school.
Simply take your deregistration letter and hand it
in to the school reception asking for a dated receipt so you have
a record of it being handed in. Its important that your letter arrives
in the morning of the day on which your child first does not attend.
How to Deregister
See the following link on how deregistration is works.
What to do next.
There is an FAQ which answers most of the basic questions about home education.
Join HE UK Forum. A national FB forum of over 14,000 parents supporting home educators in the UK.
We also advise joining a local home education support group. You should be able to find one here.
be sure to answer all the membership questions otherwise an application to join may be refused.