School Re-opening

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Latest Update 26-August-2020

The situation is different in the various parts of the UK. This guidance is for England Only.

Government Position

NOTE: The government position may change over the next week, so watch the news and keep an eye on the Lock down support group.

The expectation is that only those children in the top tier of shielding and those with symptoms or a diagnosis of Covid 19 should not return to school. ALL other children should be returned to school as of the start of the English school Year in September.

Parents who do not return children who should be attending school, may be prosecuted for allowing their child to truant.

General state of play

Many parents are happy to return their children to school but a significant minority are not. Multiple surveys suggest up to 1/3 of parents are unhappy about returning their children to school in September. Many of these parents are now considering deregistration with the intention of home educating until they consider the situation safer.

We strongly suggest exploring all options before taking this course of action.

Local Engagement

We suggest that parents work together locally by engaging with other parents, particularly those whose children attend your child's school.

Work together to engage with your school and local authority to find out exactly what policies and arrangements have been made by your specific school to tackle Covid 19.

If the school is reluctant to allow you to see their policies you may have a right to see them using the Freedom of Information act. Similarly you can obtain information from your local authority.

Questions under the freedom of information Act should be clear questions of fact. You cannot ask for opinions or statements for example.

Collective action may increase pressure on schools which show reluctance to engage with you. The careful use of local media may well help. head teachers are sensitive to local headlines along the lines of "Head Teacher refuses to inform parents" for example.

Tell the school exactly what your position is.

Write to the school as a parent and explain exactly what you need. Explain in detail why. Detailing any medical histories relating to the request. You may ask if your doctor is willing to add a note or reference to give weight to your argument. Explain to the school exactly how a return is NOT in the best interests of your child and how it could affect your family.

There is some government advice on how to approach this.

You may want to mention the Equalities act with particular reference to "Reasonable Adaptation" if it applies to your situation.

You may also refer to s175 of the Education Act 2002, which concerns the duty of LA's and schools in ensuring the welfare of a child above all other considerations.

Be clear and precise about what you want, why you want it and your reasoning.

A refusal should be in writing and sent in reasonable time and include their reasons. You can challenge their reasoning and clarify your request and issue further requests with more information. Since this process can take some time, the sooner you begin the better.

Copy in the LA attendance/inclusion team.

Phased Returns

The government have today (25-08-20) said that a phased return is allowed where the school allows it for children who have found lock down difficult.

It may be that this could be used to delay a return where the child is anxious about being in school for whatever reason.

It's not a solution for all, but it may be of use to some.

Petitions.

There are a number of petitions in progress.

Flexischooling Petition

A petition to make flexischooling a right so that under most circumstances schools may not refuse to allow it for at least one day a week.

Flexischooling is where a child is registered at a school but is educated at home part time.

Currently Flexischooling is legal but only with the agreement of the head teacher.

This petition requests a legal change to make it so that parents may request 1 day's flexischooling a week without requiring the permission of the head teacher. It anticipates safeguards for vulnerable at risk children.

Petition regarding fines

Open letter and petition to Boris Johnson regarding fines.

Deregistration

You may be considering deregistration because you found home education to be a positive experience while you were in lock down and have made a firm decision to continue home educating. If that is the case then please see my guide to deregistration here.

If you are considering deregistration due to fears of returning your child to school while covid 19 presents a risk to your child or family, then please continue reading before making a firm decision.

What is deregistration and what does it mean in practice?

Deregistration is the process by which a child is removed from the school register. It is normally undertaken when a child is removed from one school to attend another, such as when a family moves home or when the parents decide to home educate a child.

By deregistering your child you reclaim the total responsibility for all aspects of your child's education as expressed in s7 of the Education act 1996. Home education is the "Otherwise" mentioned in s7 of the Act.

Providing the school is NOT a special school and that there is NO school attendance Order, Educational Supervision Order or Parenting order issued by the courts preventing such a decision, deregistration in England is at the prerogative of the parents. (Similarly for Wales, different rules apply in Scotland and NI.)

So, under most normal circumstances in England the school may neither delay or refuse deregistration.

What if I want to Re-Register my child?

Deregistration should be considered a permanent or at least long term decision since re-registering a child is not automatic.

Schools are likely to fill places once they become available due to deregistration particularly if there is a high demand for places at that school.

Some head teachers may be reluctant to reregister a child once the family has removed them. They may see this as a vote of no confidence in the school and make a return difficult.

This means that if you deregister you cannot guarantee being able to return your child to that school.

You can challenge a refusal to deregister through your Local Authority. by appealing the decision. This is a fairly complex process.

Academies are particularly difficult to challenge.

If your choice of school is refusing to accept your registration and you need help with the process, you should contact your local authority inclusion team and explain your situation. The local authority have a duty to find a school place for all children in their area whose parents want one.

At what point should we deregister

Since the government position remains fluid you should leave a final decision to deregister to the last minute.

You can deregister up to the morning of the day on which you intend NOT to send your child to school.

Simply take your deregistration letter and hand it in to the school reception asking for a dated receipt so you have a record of it being handed in. Its important that your letter arrives in the morning of the day on which your child first does not attend.

You must keep a record of this letter which is an important legal document.

How to Deregister

See the following link on how deregistration is works.

What to do next.

There is an FAQ which answers most of the basic questions about home education.

Join HE UK Forum. A national FB forum of over 14,000 parents supporting home educators in the UK.

We also advise joining a local home education support group. You should be able to find one here.

be sure to answer all the membership questions otherwise an application to join may be refused.

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