The Scottish Guidelines
Every child has a right to an education, and it is the duty of the parent of every school age child to provide that education, either by sending the child to school or by other means. (Education (Scotland) Act 1980 – section 30)
Whilst consent is needed to withdraw your child from school, consent is not needed to home educate. Your child must keep attending the school until persmission is given in writing.
3.2 Consent is not needed in the following situations:
The child has never attended a public (state/local authority) school.
The child has never attended a public (state/local authority) school in that authority’s area.
The child is being withdrawn from an independent (private/fee paying) school.
The child has finished primary education in one school but has not started secondary education in another.
The school the child has been attending has closed.
3.3 For parents
Establish whether consent is needed.
If consent is needed, write to the local authority to request their consent:
as early as possible and, where reasonably practical, well in advance of the date you wish to withdraw your child from school
include initial proposals as to how you intend to provide an efficient and suitable education for your child
you are not required to indicate the reasons for your decision, but may choose to do so.The aim should be to issue a decision within 6 weeks of the receipt of the original application.
The aim should be to issue a decision within 6 weeks of the receipt of the original application.
Education (Scotland) Act 1980 – Section 37(2)
If a parent on whom a notice has been served in pursuance of subsection (1) above fails to satisfy the authority that he is providing efficient education for the child suitable to his age, ability and aptitude or that there is a reasonable excuse for his failure to do so, the authority shall make an attendance order in respect of the child in accordance with the provisions of section 38 of this Act.
There is no statutory duty upon local authorities to ‘monitor’ ongoing home education provision. However, in law they have a duty to serve a notice on any parent who they are not satisfied is providing efficient education suitable to their child’s age, ability and aptitude. The law does not specify how, and to what extent, local authorities should actively seek the information that will inform them on whether home educating parents’ educational provision is suitable and efficient. Section 4.2 overleaf sets out recommendations on this.
If the local authority has reason to believe that an efficient education is not being provided for a home educated child, they have a duty to intervene. This duty applies equally in relation to all children, regardless of whether or not they have previously attended a local authority school in the area.
We recommend that authorities should ordinarily make contact on an annual basis with those families they know to be home educating in their area. This annual contact is not a statutory requirement. However, it is a suggestion as to how authorities may reasonably inform themselves in order to fulfil their duty to serve a notice on any parent who is not providing efficient and suitable education.
We recommend that contact is made in writing initially to the family, seeking a meeting or requesting an updated report. The primary purpose of the contact should be for the authority to satisfy themselves that suitable and efficient education is being provided. This can be done either through a meeting, at a mutually agreed location, or through other means, e.g. the submission by the family of written, recorded or electronic material. Authorities should not be prescriptive about the format in which information can be submitted. The important factor is whether the information can demonstrate that suitable and efficient education is being provided.
Following this contact, the local authority should write to the family letting them know the outcome, i.e. whether or not the educational provision was seen to be suitable and efficient. If there was no problem with the educational provision, there will be no need for further contact until the following year. Where there are concerns about the efficiency or suitability of the education being provided, the local authority should make the exact nature of these concerns clear to the parent.
If, from whatever source, an authority becomes aware of concerns about the home education of any child, outwith the normal contact time, they will need to gather the necessary information in order to form a view on whether those concerns are justified or whether the parents are providing an efficient education suitable to the age, ability and aptitude of the child.
4.3 Where a parent elects not to allow access to their home or their child, this does not of itself constitute a ground for concern about the education provision. Depending upon the circumstances, there may be occasions when a denial of access raises child protection concerns, in which case the general principal set out in section 4.6 should apply.
Although it is recognised that the learning environment can have a bearing on the effectiveness of learning, local authorities should, in the vast majority of cases, be able to discuss and evaluate the parents’ educational provision by alternative means. Parents might prefer, for example, to write a report, provide samples of work, either in hard copy or electronically, or provide evidence in some other appropriate form.
4.4 Exceptional circumstances
Where the authority has concerns about the education provision which are not allayed by the presentation of written or alternative forms of evidence, and ongoing dialogue, and the only way the authority can clarify whether suitable and efficient education is being provided is to seek access to the home environment, then they may request to do so. However, the authority must have demonstrable grounds for concern and must outline those grounds to the parent when requesting access to the home. If, in these circumstances, the parent refuses to allow access to the home, the authority might reasonably conclude that they have insufficient information to satisfy themselves as to the efficiency and suitability of education provision, and serve a notice on the parent under Section 37 of the 1980 Act.
8.2 The law and children with additional support needs
The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 came into force in November 2005. It replaced the system of assessment and recording of children and young people with ‘special educational needs’ with a new framework for additional support needs. This term applies to any child or young person who, for whatever reason, requires additional support, to benefit from education. Education authorities are required to identify, meet and keep under review the additional support needs of all pupils for whose education they are responsible. Appropriate agencies such as NHS Boards and social work services also have duties placed on them to help education authorities when asked to do so.
While education authorities are not responsible for the education of children or young people who are home educated, parents of home educated children have the right to ask their local authority to find out whether or not their child has additional support needs, and to assess what level of support they might need. A young person also has similar rights. The local authority can choose to agree with the request, and provide the necessary support, but it is under no legal duty to do so.