The rules for taking a child out of school are set out in The Education Pupil Registration Regulations (England) 2006 as amended. The most up to date version of the Regulations is included for reference at the foot of this page.
In most cases it is not necessary to seek permission or approval to home educate. When parents want to take a child of compulsory school age out of school in order to home educate they need to go through the deregistration process. This involves writing a decision letter to the headteacher or proprietor of the school whereby the child’s name is deleted from the school roll.
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. My page on taking a child out of special school is here and my page on School Attendance Orders is here.
Consent or approval is NOT required to deregister a child with an EHCP from mainstream where parents indicate that they have decided to home educate and are taking responsibility for the child’s education. To be clear, this was always the case and the government confirmed in August 2023 that it would not be changed; see DfE consultation response page 4 which says “The Department will not proceed with requiring […] LA consent before a school deletes the name of a pupil with an education health and care plan from a school roll” which is further expanded on page 19.
Sometimes the local authority will tell the school not to deregister a child with an EHCP from mainstream. This is wrong in law if parents have set out in writing that they are taking responsibility for the child’s education. It contravenes the Pupil Registration Regulations. The SEND Code of Practice, which is statutory guidance, affirms at paragraph 10.33 that the school must remove the pupil’s name from the admission register. Read my page on the Code here.
After the child’s name has been deleted from the school roll the school will still be named on the EHCP. Deleting the pupil’s name from roll must happen FIRST because the Pupil Registration Regulations do not allow for a delay.
As a separate administrative issue if the local authority wishes to amend the EHCP to remove the name of the school then the law allows for amendment without reviewing the Plan; see Regulation 28 of the SEN Regulations 2014 which is headed “Amending an EHC plan without a review or reassessment” and says “If, at any time, a local authority proposes to amend an EHC plan, it shall proceed as if the proposed amendment were an amendment proposed after a review” ie parents must be notified of their right to appeal to tribunal.
The local authority is also able to bring forward the annual review; this review will be convened by the LA rather than the school since the child will no longer be a pupil on roll at the school. My page on home educating with an EHCP is here and my page on annual reviews while home educating is here.
Decision Letter vs Expressing Intention to Home Educate
Government guidance (Children Missing Education + Keeping Children Safe in Education) makes a distinction between parents indicating an INTENTION to home educate – or saying that they are considering home education – versus having made a FIRM AND FINAL DECISION about the way forward.
To avoid any misunderstanding, parents should put their decision in writing rather than speaking to someone at the school or the local authority and should specifically include a reference to “decision” or “decided”.
CME guidance expresses it this way “Where a parent notifies the school in writing that they are home educating, the school must delete the child’s name from the admission register and inform the local authority. However, where parents orally indicate that they intend to withdraw their child to be home educated, the school should consider notifying the local authority at the earliest opportunity.” Read more here.
KSIE guidance says “Where a parent/carer has expressed their intention to remove a child from school with a view to educating at home, we recommend that local authorities, schools, and other key professionals work together to coordinate a meeting with parents/carers where possible. Ideally, this would be before a final decision has been made, to ensure the parents/carers have considered what is in the best interests of each child.” Read more here.
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. [Source = Regulation 8.(1) (d)] The school is not obliged to accept email notification.
The school’s legal duty is to inform 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.
School Attendance Order Process
Where a School Attendance Order is in place, a 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 [Source =Regulation 8.(1) (a)] . The LA may ask for further information. (The law on SAOs would have changed if the Schools Bill had not been dropped. My page on the Schools Bill is here)
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. My page on taking a child out of special school is here
Deregistration May Not Be Necessary
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. My page on the School Roll is here.
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)
Before the expected first day of attendance the parent may inform the school that the place is not required. Parents don’t have to say this is because the child will be home educated but if parents don’t give a reason, the school or local authority may make further enquiries.
The LA’s duty to arrange alternative provision under section 19 may be triggered if the child is unable to attend school. The LA is absolved of this duty if parents say they are home educating ie there is no funding. My page on alternative provision and EOTAS is here.
At the time of writing in January 2024 the legislation.gov.uk site had not updated the Pupil Registration Regulations with the 2016 changes so it is out of date, notably at Regulation 12 with all schools as of 2016 having to notify the LA whenever they delete the child’s name from roll. The version below is how it should look. The Children Missing Education Guidance 2016 is another place to find the correct updated version. https://edyourself.org/children-missing-education/
“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.”
“12(6) Where the name of a pupil is to be deleted from the admission register, the proprietor must make a return to the local authority for that pupil as soon as the ground for deletion under regulation 8 is met in relation to that pupil, and in any event no later than the time at which the pupil’s name is deleted from the register.
(7) A return made under paragraph (6) must give—
(a)the full name of the pupil;
(b)the full name and address of any parent with whom the pupil normally resides;
(c)at least one telephone number at which any parent with whom the pupil normally resides can be contacted in an emergency;
(d)the particulars specified pursuant to regulation 5(1)(c), if applicable;
(e)the particulars specified pursuant to regulation 5(1)(g), if applicable; and
(f)the ground under regulation 8 upon which their name is to be deleted from the admission register.”