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Support for dealing with the Local Authority Scotland

Communication with the Local Authorities in Scotland

Every Local Authority (LA) should provide information/guidelines on the withdrawal process on their website, which should be based on the statutory guidance (Scottish Government, January 2007). The Scottish Government are looking to update this guidance (consultation underway spring/summer 2022) and updates will be reflected here.

The first step is to send your letter asking for consent to withdraw your child from school, as per the guide HERE. You should include your educational provision, as per the guide HERE.

Consent is not needed if: the child has never attended a public school, the child has never attended a public school in that authority’s area, the child is being withdrawn from an independent school, the child has finished primary education in one school but has not started secondary education in another, or the school the child has been attending has closed.

The LA should send an acknowledgement on receipt of these documents. They should then quickly (within 6 weeks) consider whether there are any reasons for consent to be withheld. You should be kept informed of the progress of the application, the reason for any delay and the likely timescale to reach a decision.

If consent is withheld, you should be given the opportunity to address the grounds for refusal and resubmit your request for reconsideration.

Your child should continue to attend school until consent has been received in writing, however the LA should take a reasonable approach to attendance whilst consent is being considered.

Section 4.1 of the Scottish Guidelines confirms LAs are not legally allowed to ‘monitor’ ongoing home education provision, however it is suggested contact should be made on an annual basis.

Section 4.2 of the Scottish Guidelines confirms that contact should be made in writing initially and that LAs cannot be prescriptive about the format in which information can be submitted by you (eg they cannot insist you fill out a form, talk to them on the phone or in person). After each contact, the LA should write to inform you whether the educational provision was seen to be suitable and efficient. Where concerns are raised, the council should make the exact nature of these concerns clear to you and give you time to address each specific point.

We recommend all communication with your local authority be made in writing rather than in person/phone. Sections 4.3 and 4.4 of the Scottish Guidelines clearly state “The authority does not…have a right of access to the home and the child” unless there are demonstrable grounds for concern which must be outlined to you. Remember you do NOT have to inform them of your reasons for wishing to home education, your qualifications, any future plans with regards to school, exam plans, hours worked etc. Their role is purely to satisfy themselves as to the efficiency and suitability of education provision. LA  officers could ask inappropriate things like:  if you have any plans to send your child back to school in the future, what exam plans you have, they may ask about socialisation assuming your child will be isolated, also questions about where the child will ‘work’ etc. The LA may assume school at home will be recreated, this is not a legal requirement of Home Education. So to avoid these kind of questions we recommend keeping things in writing with the LA.

Some Scottish councils still subscribe to the Named Person scheme, GIRFEC guidelines, and/or quote Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) to obtain further information from families. Specifically, some authorities suggest they cannot process consent to withdraw without speaking directly to the child for their view. Increasingly, some LAs are insisting on communication with the school before processing consent. Please be assured that these are not legal requirements, and you can refuse to provide the information and refuse to allow data sharing.

EHE guidance

(1)In the exercise and performance of their powers and duties under this Act, the Secretary of State and education authorities shall have regard to the general principle that, so far as is compatible with the provision of suitable instruction and training and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure, pupils are to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents.

Education (Scotland) Act 1980
Section 28
Pupils to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents.

(1)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.

Education (Scotland) Act 1980
Section 35
Failure by parent to secure regular attendance by his child at a public school.

[F124(1)]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.

Education (Scotland) Act 1980
Section 30
Duty of parents to provide education for their children.

(1)Where a child of school age has not attended a public school in the area in which his parent is residing, or has attended such a school and has been withdrawn therefrom with the consent of, or excluded by, the education authority, then, if the authority are not satisfied that the parent is providing efficient education for him suitable to his age, ability and aptitude, it shall be the duty of the authority to serve a notice on the parent requiring him within such time as may be specified in the notice (not being less than seven or more than fourteen days from the service thereof) either –

(a)to appear (with or without the child) before the authority and give such information as the authority may require regarding the means, if any, he has adopted for providing education, or

(b)in the option of the parent, to give such information to the authority in writing.

(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 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.

Education (Scotland) Act 1980
Section 37
Power of education authority where not satisfied that parent is providing efficient education for his child

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