A Post by Lawyers of Light
Given the current months of issues with masks and social distancing in schools in the UK, and now the possibility of Covid vaccination by way of the Gillick competency rules, many parents are concerned and seeking to prevent psychological and other damage such measures could reap on their children.
Some parents are considering home schooling but do not know where to start. It is obviously a big step as once you give up your child’s place at school, it is given to another child.
However, if you have given careful thought to the matter and wish to now homeschool, but dont know where to start, the following may be of help to you.
This information is applicable to homeschooling in England.
The first step to homeschooling is for you to send a letter INSTRUCTING the school to remove your child from their register (deregister).
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. You should also obtain written confirmation from the school that your child has been deregistered.
The school MUST accept your request if you’re taking your child out completely. They can only refuse if you want to send your child to school some of the time.
If your child is attending school because of a school attendance order, you must get permission from your local authority (LA) before you can educate them at home.
Also, if your child has Special Education Needs and attends a special school, you’ll need to get the LA’s permission to educate them at home. You do not need the LA’s permission if your child attends a mainstream school, even if they have an education, health and care (EHC) plan.
Unless your child falls into one of the excepted categories above, there is no requirement and no advantage in you contacting the LA to inform them you will be homeschooling your child. This should (in law) be done by the school. You DO NOT need to wait for the LA’s approval to home school.
If the school fails to inform the LA it is a problem for the LA and the school, it has no implications for you or your child.
A suitable deregistration letter is below. REMEMBER – SEND THE LETTER TO THE SCHOOL ONLY
Dear (Head’s name)
Re – Name of child . Date of birth
After very careful consideration and discussion we have now decided to take full responsibility for providing for our son/daughter’s education by Home Educating them in accordance with section 7 of the 1996 Education Act.
We therefore ask that the school delete (child’s name) from the school register immediately, in accordance with Regulation 8(1) of the Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations 2006.
We will ensure that our son/daughter is provided with an efficient full-time education suitable to his/her age, ability, aptitude and to any special educational needs.
Please confirm by return the date that our son’s/daughter’s name was removed from the school register.
Some schools are ill informed regarding the law or their LA have imposed their own proceedures on the school which do not follow the true legal process and refuse or delay de-registration.
Some schools insist that you go in to discuss the deregistration, which you do not need to do. Others even go as far as to insist that your child should continue attending school while approval is sought from the LA. Some have threatened to prosecute parents for their child’s non 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 any attempts to fine you for your child’s non attendance is unenforceable in law.
The only requirement upon you is that you must make sure your child receives a full-time education from the age of 5. However, you DO NOT have to follow the national curriculum. As parents, it is only your duty to provide an education for your children, and the education DOES NOT have to be in a school setting or set to the national curriculum.
Feedback from someone that has been through this process was that the LA did get in touch, and asked the parent to complete an online form. This is actually a request to allow the LA to add your child/ren to their register. This is entirely voluntary so you can respectfully decline this request.
You are not legally obliged to add your child to any register, write a report, or have a visit. However, some LAs feel that they have a duty to monitor and still ask for some information. Other LAs do not accurately represent the law in their letters and say that you have to provide lengthy information and examples of work, this is not true. If you do wish to send a report in response to informal enquiries from the LA then you can use the simple letter below obtained from Educational Freedom https://educationalfreedom.org.uk/monitoring-response/
Do consider what information you are willing to let the LA know. While you are expected to have adequate provision from the outset, it is also expected that you will need time to settle into home educating. So it is perfectly acceptable for you tell the LA you are taking time in the early stages to try out different approaches for providing education and allowing your child time to transition from school to home education.
Simple letter in response to enquiries from LA
Local Authority Name/Address
I write in response to your request for information about the educational provision for x,y and z. I would like to remind you that the EHE guidelines clearly state the Local Authority has no duty to monitor, nor to request information about the educational provision. The LA has a duty to respond to any concerns they may have, I have not been notified of any such concern. But as a gesture of good will I shall include for you some information about the education provision. The information herewith is not exhaustive, and is subject to change at any time.
I ask that this be the last request the LA makes for information about the educational provision, I will of course contact you should we need your service.
My philosophy is that …….(put what your philoshophy is, here are some ideas) A child learns best in their home environment/thrives on a one to one basis/ that an education provided by a parent is more appropriate than one given by a stranger. Etc, (put a couple of lines about why you home educate/your philosophy)
We follow an autonomous/semi-structured/structured/unschooling approach. (delete/add to).
I ensure that x has access to the library as well as books at home, supervised internet access and TV; such as documentaries. Workbooks/sheets are used and followed up with discussion (add/ change to make it suit your provision, aim for a paragraph or two). (Do not worry about too much fine detail, it is the provision they wish to know about, the levels your child works at are not important here.)
We ensure that x has the opportunity to meet with friends, and we often visit museums/groups/meet ups etc.(include information about social activities and sports, not specifics about which club or when).
As mentioned above, we now do not expect to receive any more requests for information unless a reason for concern comes to your attention.
If you are adamant that you wish to homeschool your child, then in addition to the formalities above, it would be sensible to find local support groups, online support groups and online resources. There are many and links to a few are below.
Ready to homeschool? Good luck with your new exciting journey!