Thinking about home education? Do you have a child at school but would prefer to homeschool them? Today, I’m going to run through how to deregister your children from a school in England. I’ll also briefly mention the differences for school deregistration in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.
Compulsory School Age
Firstly, let me explain what CSA is and how it applies to your children. Compulsory school age is the age at which children in England must be in receipt of a full-time education. That education doesn’t have to be at school. It would be more accurate to describe it as “compulsory education age”. Children can attend school prior to CSA. However, they don’t have to attend school or be educated until they reach CSA.
CSA is the term after a child’s fifth birthday. There are 3 terms in the academic year, which runs from September to July; autumn, spring and summer. The cut-off date is the end of August. If your child’s birthday is August 31, they can attend school the year in which they are 4 years old. But they don’t have to until the year in which they are 5 years old.
Let’s look at some examples, based on the academic year 2018 to 2019. If a child was born on September 15, 2014, then September 2019 would be the earliest they can go to school. However, spring term 2020 would be the point at which they reach CSA. If a child was born on March 15, 2014, then they would be eligible to attend school in September 2018. However, they wouldn’t reach CSA until summer term 2019.
School Deregistration Before CSA
Prior to CSA, if your child is registered at a school then they do not need to attend full-time. You can legally send them part-time. However, you can also withdraw them from school entirely.
Notify the school that you no longer require the school place. If asked for a reason, it is sufficient to say that your child is not yet compulsory school age.
School Deregistration After CSA
Post CSA, if your child is registered at a state school then you must formally deregister. For English mainstream state schools, this is simply done by writing to the headteacher.
Use your child’s name and date of birth as the letter reference. Tell the headteacher that your child is now home educated and that their name needs to be removed from the school register. Make sure you obtain a receipt for delivery. Either hand deliver the letter to the school office and get a receipt from the secretary. Or, send your letter via recorded delivery post and retain your service receipt.
The receipt is your proof that you notified the school. Thereafter, it’s the school’s responsibility to follow the law and notify the appropriate local authority.
Private Sector School Deregistration
If your child attends a private school, you must give notice in the usual way. Your contract should specify the notice period; it is typically one term in length. You may be able to pay school fees in lieu of the full notice period.
If the school asks, you can tell them you no longer require the place or that you intend to homeschool. Either way, the school ought to notify the local authority that your child is no longer on their register.
Special Education Schools
If your child has an Education and Health Care Plan, they might attend a special school. If they have an EHCP and attend a mainstream school, you should deregister as normal. However, if your child has an EHCP and attends a special school it’s different. You’ll need to seek approval prior to deregistration. Your child must continue to attend school until said consent is received.
Write a letter addressed to the Director of Education and copy it to the school headteacher. You need to ask the local authority to allow the school to remove your child from the school register. You will also need to make it clear that you can and will meet your child’s special education needs. For example, if your child has a scribe at school then you will act as their scribe for homeschool. Or, if your child has coloured overlays for reading then you will provide similar reading aids at home.
School Deregistration Laws
You shouldn’t need to quote the law when seeking to deregister your child from school. However, sometimes schools are not very familiar with home education. It can be helpful to quote the exact legislation that applies to your situation.
Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 states: “The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude, and to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.”
Regulation 8 of the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 applies to removal from the school register. Regulation 8(1) applies to mainstream schools and regulation 8(2) applies to special schools.
For mainstream schools, Regulation 8(1)d states: “The proprietor has received written notification from the parent that the pupil is receiving education otherwise than at school.”
And for special schools, Regulation 8(2) states: “The name of a child who has under arrangements made by a local education authority become a registered pupil at a special school shall not be removed from the admission register of that school without the consent of that authority, or if that authority refuse to give consent, without a direction of the Secretary of State.”
Schools Refusing to Deregister
When you have the right to remove your child from school, the school must legally comply with your request. If the school is recalcitrant, you can report them to the local authority. Or, you can write another letter referring them to your original deregistration letter and quote the relevant legislation. In either case, you have fulfilled your legal duty. The unexplained absence on the school’s register is entirely the school’s problem.
Schools in Wales & Northern Ireland
Different legislation applies to schools in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. You must follow the applicable laws for where you reside. Also, note that CSA is different for these nation-states. Wales is the same as England. In Scotland, CSA is 5 years old but the cut-off date is the end of February. It applies to the school year, not the academic term. And, in Northern Ireland, CSA is 4 years old. The end of June is the cut-off date for the school year.
In Wales and Northern Ireland, you can write a similar letter to that of English home educators. However, the relevant legislation is different.
For Wales, the Education Act 1996 still applies. Additionally, Regulation 8(1)d of the Education (Pupil Registration) (Wales) Regulations 2010 states: “The pupil has ceased to attend the school and the proprietor has received written notification from the parent that the pupil is receiving education otherwise than at school.”
For Northern Ireland, Article 45 of the Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 1986 states: “The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.”
And Regulation 9(1)c of the Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations 1995 states: “He has ceased to attend the school and the proprietor has received written notification from the parent that the pupil is receiving education otherwise than at school.”
Scottish School Deregistration
You must always seek consent from the education authority prior to withdrawing your child from a state school. You should address your letter to the Director of Education and enclose a brief outline of your home education plans. Tell the director that you would like to home educate. Ask for your child to be removed from the school register as soon as possible. It is extremely important to note that you must continue to send your child to school until you receive confirmation that you can proceed with deregistration. This can take up to 6 weeks.
The relevant legislation is Section 30 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980, which states: “It shall be the duty of the parent of every child of school age to provide efficient education for him suitable to his age, ability and aptitude either by causing him to attend a public school regularly or by other means.”
And Section 35(1) states: “Where a child of school age who has attended a public school on one or more occasions fails without reasonable excuse to attend regularly at the said school, then, unless the education authority have consented to the withdrawal of the child from the school (which consent shall not be unreasonably withheld), his parent shall be guilty of an offence against this section.”
Homeschooling After School Deregistration
I hope this article has given you a good overview of school deregistration in the UK. Once your child has been removed from the school register, you should begin or continue with your home education plans. Act in much the same way as anyone who has chosen to homeschool from the start.
There are no mandatory hours or curricula for home education in the UK. It is the parent’s responsibility to ensure that their child’s education is suitable to their aptitude and ability. It’s not a decision to take lightly, although there are many good reasons to home educate.
If your child is best suited to a school education, then that is the choice you should make. Every child is different and, as parents, you can only make the best choice for your child. It matters not what your friends and family have chosen to do for their children’s education. This is your child; it is your choice.