The Legal Bit – Northern Ireland
You do not need permission from an ELB to deregister your child from school. Send a letter (see SAMPLE LETTERS) either by registered post or if hand delivering to the school ask for a receipt. Check the DEREGISTRATION section for further information.
The school will notify the ELB/EWO who will make contact and request a visit. You are not required to agree to a visit and it is recommended that you keep communication by writing. This means you have records of any communication that takes place if ever needed. Always respond to letters from the ELB – if they demand to see evidence of your educational provision a short report on the provision (can include your educational philosophy) is all that is required.
The ELB is there as a support to your decision to Home Educate. They are not there to tell you how to Home Educate or to assess your Home Education style. They only have a duty to act if there is evidence that an education is NOT being provided – they do not have the power to enter your home and assess that an education IS taking place.
As there are no ELB guidelines similar to the LA guidelines used in England you will find that ELBs have written their own. They are found on ELB websites and are based on internal ELB policies, often going beyond the law. Referring to the LA guidelines gives a more commonsense approach to dealing with ELBs if they ask more than is legally expected from home educating parents.
If you are unsure of how to respond to a demand from an ELB/EWO please feel free to contact us.
The Statutory Rules for Northern Ireland 1974, Number 78, state:
6. (1) A parent shall not withdraw his child from a school at which the child is a registered pupil *except after acquainting the principal with his intention to do so.*
(2) Upon the withdrawal from school of a registered pupil the principal shall furnish to the parent in respect of the pupil a certificate of attendance as in Form S.A.I. in the schedule and *shall at the same time delete from the General Register the name of the pupil*.
SENDO Special Educational Needs and Disability (Northern Ireland) Order 2005:
‘It increases the right of children to inclusion in mainstream schooling if that is the wish of their parents and is compatible with the provision of efficient education for other children’
The Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 1986
SCHOOL ATTENDANCE ORDERS
[F21.—(1) If it appears to a board that a parent of a child of compulsory school age in its area is failing to perform the duty imposed on him by Article 45, it shall serve a notice in writing on the parent requiring him to satisfy the board, within such period (not being less than fourteen days beginning with the day on which the notice is served) as is specified in the notice, that the child is, by regular attendance at school or otherwise, receiving suitable education.
2(1) Where, at any time whilst a school attendance order is in force with respect to a child, the parent of the child makes an application to the board by whom the order was made requesting … that the order be revoked on the ground that arrangements have been made for the child to receive otherwise than at school education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he may have, the board shall amend or revoke the`order in compliance with the request unless it is of the opinion that
-(d) no satisfactory arrangements have been made for the education of the child otherwise than at school.
Article 45 (1) of the Education and Libraries (NI) Order 1986:
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.
Equality Commission NI:
Some very helpful advice if your child with disability is considering flexi-schooling or attending college.
EOTAS Education Other Than At School:
Iincludes Home Education and links to 5 NI ELBs
Not flexi-schooling but an IT system helping some children, whether because of disability of illness, to tap into schooling whilst remaining at home – the parent plays a lead role.
‘It is one of the largest and most comprehensive educational ICT initiatives implemented in the UK and has made a
major contribution to the transformation of education in Northern Ireland’