Legal references on this page apply to England.

The rules for taking a child out of school are set out in the Pupil Registration Regulations.

In most cases it is not necessary to seek permission or approval to home educate. When parents want to remove a child of compulsory school age from school in order to home educate they need to go through the deregistration process. This involves writing to the headteacher or proprietor of the school.

The only exceptions to the simple notification process are where the child is a registered pupil at a special school or where the child is currently attending school subject to a School Attendance Order. The child's having an EHCP does not extend the exception to deregistration from mainstream.

Where the parent is prevented from deregistering from mainstream with an EHCP in order to home educate the LA's duty to arrange provision under section 19 may be triggered if the child is unable to attend school due to anxiety. See my EOTAS page for more details.

Where the child has been registered as a pupil with a school following a School Attendance Order, any parent wishing to home educate must first write to the local authority and ask for the SAO to be revoked on the grounds that suitable arrangements have been made for the child's education. The LA may ask for further information. The order must be revoked before the child can be deregistered.

The school is required to delete the pupil's name if 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. The school is not obliged to accept email notification.

The school's legal duty is to tell the authority, not ask the local authority whether it should obey the law. As soon as the school receives such notification from parents, it must inform the local authority. The law refers to "making a return" to the local authority. The law does not provide for the school to keep a pupil on roll while "background checks" are carried out.

Earlier government proposals to introduce a delay before deregistration were dropped. This was announced in a parliamentary debate which you can read about on my News Page from May 2011.

If the child is a registered pupil at a special school, the parent requires consent from the local authority before the child's name can be removed from the school roll. Special school deregistration is covered by 8.-(2) of the Pupil Registration Regulations, NOT 8.1. Consent must not be unreasonably withheld. The regulations do not stipulate that the parent must seek consent or permission for home education. Nor do they say that the child must continue to attend the school until the EHCP is amended. See paragraph 10.33 SEND Code of Practice

It is only a parent who can register a child with a school. A child does not "become registered" at a school by the parent filling in a preference form or by the school being named on the EHCP or ordered by the SEN tribunal or named on a School Attendance Order. The child becomes a registered pupil from the "expected first day of attendance" which is the first day that the parent has agreed or notified the school that the child will attend. (If the child is simply sent in to school on or after the expected first day, this also signifies agreement)

Writing Deregistration Letter To the School

8(1) The following are prescribed as the grounds on which the name of a pupil of compulsory school age shall be deleted from the admission register - ...
(d) 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."
The Pupil Registration Regulations (England) 2006.

No Delay in Removing Child's Name from Register

"12(3) As to the contents of the admission register comprising particulars relating to a pupil whose name is to be deleted in accordance with regulation 8(1)(d), (e),(g),(i) or (m), the proprietor shall make a return to the local authority for every such pupil giving the full name of the pupil, the address of any parent with whom the pupil normally resides and the ground upon which their name is to be deleted from the admission register as soon as the ground for deletion is met in relation to that pupil, and in any event no later than deleting the pupil's name from the register."
The Pupil Registration Regulations (England) 2006.

Related Pages

My EOTAS page includes Ombudsman case council refusing to deregister from mainstream
Home Educating With EHCP including deregistration from mainstream, new page February 2023

School Roll
Schools Bill The Schools Bill has been DROPPED
The Law Starting page for law relating to home education
Children Missing Education section 436A - what CME guidance say about local authority duties
Child's Right to Education The law is phrased in the negative -"no one shall be denied the right to education"
Legal Presentation by barrister Ian Dowty
School Attendance Orders section 437 - 443 - LA can't register your child at school
Portsmouth Judicial Review The judge ruled that Portsmouth council was not acting outside the law
Government Home Education Guidance The Guidance is non-statutory and does not introduce new powers or duties
School Leaving Age Raised to 18 but not compulsory
Educational Philosophy When and how to write an ed phil
Autonomous Education Explaining your values and suitability to the individual child
SEN Introduction home education and special needs

Link Reference

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  1. News Page