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Compulsory Education

The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable -

(a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and                     

(b) to any special educational needs he may have,

either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

Reproduced with the permission of the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office

Deregistering your child from School

Deregistering your child from school is EASY - thousands of us have done it but the wording of your letter must be legally correct. Please read these important notes before sending your de-registration letter.

Unless your child is at school as a result of the making of a school attendance order or is a registered pupil at a special school arranged by an LEA ( see later), you can de-register by sending a letter to the school.

I have set out a suggested draft letter below. This needs to be sent to the proprietor of the school, but you don't have to find out exactly who that is - just send the letter addressed to "The Proprietor", as this is the person the regulations say it must go to. Technically, addressing it to the headteacher would not be right, although s/he is the person who would normally deal with this sort of thing.

If you're worried about it being too formal, you could enclose it with a more friendly letter to the headteacher letting her/him know what you are doing and pointing out that this is a letter which alters your legal responsibilities and therefore has to be framed formally and in accordance with the relevant regulations. You do not have to give an explanation of why you are going to home educate to your child's school.

Unfortunately some LEAs take the point that you have not given proper notification if the letter is not absolutely correctly framed. Your child must be registered at a school or actually receiving education at home. You cannot state that you are going to home educate, you have to be doing it!

Keep a copy of your letter.

Preferably send the letter by recorded delivery.

If you hand-deliver it, ask for a receipt. Legal Advice from Liddingtons Solicitors

It MAY become important that you can prove the school received the de-reg letter, so that if the LEA tries to get funny with you, they can't claim that you never de-registered your children and then try to prosecute you for failure to ensure their attendance ('truancy').

If your child remains on the register, you are technically liable to be prosecuted for failing to ensure their regular attendance, that is why it is important to have their name removed.

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Don't be alarmed by that - it's very unlikely to happen, and if it did and you could prove that you had sent the letter, then you would have an unassailable defence. That's why it's important to be able to prove you sent the letter, I know, I'm labouring the point.

Probably the most you will hear initially is that your child has been de- registered, and then the LEA will probably contact you to ask about your educational provision.

The proprietor of the school has to tell the LEA within 10 days of de-registering. There is absolutely no requirement that you have to do so.

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The proprietor **must** de-register your children on receipt of the letter - no ifs, no buts. Very occasionally a headteacher prevaricates and if that should happen, you need to write to them again and again until s/he complies. You could point out that failure to comply with the 1995 Regulations is a criminal offence (see s434 Education Act 1996).
You will need; further advice if there is a school attendance order for your child. If she is at a special school you might find that Spearhead is able to help with de-registration.

A suggested draft de-registration letter:

The Proprietor (Name and address of School) Date

Dear Sir/Madam

Re: (child's full name and date of birth)

I am writing to inform you that (child's name) has ceased to attend at your school and is receiving education otherwise than at school. Regulation 9(1)(c) of the Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations 1995 provides that this is one of the prescribed grounds on which a pupil's name must be deleted from the admission register. Please will you confirm to me in writing that this has been done.

Yours faithfully

Questions and Answers

The answers set out below reflect the law in England and Wales as it is on the day that the answer is given. Inasmuch as they might have application to others with similar problems or questions, I hope that they will assist . However, the answers are specifically directed to meet the particular and limited facts set out in the question. I cannot therefore assume responsibility for the application of the answers to other people or situations, and specific legal advice should be taken upon such further matters.

If you live in Scotland and have a question, you should be able to get the answer by referring it to Schoolhouse Home Education Association.

Ian Dowty

My daughter is due to start school this September, but I really don't think she is ready and want to home educate instead, at least for now. Do I have to get permission from my local education authority?

Answer (28th August 2009)
The simple answer is "No". The law is quite clear, it is up to you whether you send your daughter to school or decide to make other arrangements, which include home education. The choice is entirely yours, you do not even have to inform your local education authority (LEA) let alone seek their, or anyone's, permission. Some LEAs say you have to tell them, some that they prefer you to do so. The law does not require you to do so, whatever anyone might say. Speak to other local home educators before you make any decision about this.

Our 14-year-old boy is so miserable at school that we have decided we can't carry on making him go, and want to try home education. The headmaster at his school is quite annoyed and says we have to apply for LEA permission - which is unlikely to be granted because he is due to begin GCSE courses this September. A friend who already home educates says this is nonsense, but my son's head is adamant. What, if anything, can I do?

Answer (21st October 2010) The headmaster may be relying on information which is out of date but which seems, unfortunately, still to be supplied to schools. You used to need to get permission to de-register a child from school to home educate, but in 1995 the law changed and now all you need to do, in most cases, is to write to the school to tell them to remove your son from the register as you are going to home educate.

If your son has special educational needs and is a registered pupil at a special school under arrangements made by your LEA you will need to obtain their consent to deregister him. If there is a school attendance order made in respect of him, no matter at what type of school he is, you need legal advice as, depending on a view of the construction of the regulations you may need to get the SAO revoked before you can de-register.

Once you have written and you son does not attend at school further, the headmaster has to take your son off the register he has no discretion and no other choice, regulation 9(1)(c) of The Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations 1995 makes it quite clear. If the head still will not do so, you might point out to him that the Regulations are made under powers granted by section 434 Education Act 1996 which makes it a criminal offence for anyone not to comply with them. On conviction he could be fined up to 200.

So, just deliver the letter and withdraw your son from school. Once the head has the letter your son does not need to go to school any more and you cannot be held liable for failing to send him to school. He cannot "truant" and you cannot be prosecuted if he does not go to school.

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