If your child is already enrolled at a state school

Whereas Scots education law is broadly similar to that which applies in England & Wales, there are some significant differences with regard to withdrawing a child who is already on the roll of a state school. It should be noted that the English ‘deregistration’ regulations do not apply in Scotland.

It should also be noted that no consent is required to home educate per se as the provision of education during the compulsory years is a parental responsibility. However, if your child has attained compulsory education age and has attended (on one occasion or more) a council school in Scotland, you will generally require the consent of your local authority to withdraw him/her. There are a few exception to the consent requirement, which you will find detailed in the statutory guidance.

Withdrawing a child from a state school

You should write to your local Director of Education stating that you intend to exercise your legal right to educate your child at home under section 30 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 and asking for the child’s name to be removed from the school roll as soon as possible (or stating a specific date if you have one in mind). You may also wish to send a copy of your letter to the school for information so that the Head Teacher is aware of your proposed course of action, but you are not required to do so.

In order to expedite the withdrawal process, you should also enclose with your formal request to the local authority an outline of the educational arrangements you are making (including a statement of your educational objectives and the learning resources you plan to use). This does not have to be complicated or overly detailed, but should give an indication of how you intend to proceed initially. You may find our checklist of questions  helpful when you are preparing your outline of provision.

It may also be useful to mention the fact that you have been in touch with Schoolhouse which offers indepndent information and support to home educators in Scotland.

Always send any correspondence by recorded delivery and keep copies. Also, keep a note of any telephone calls and exchanges with the school and local authority.

‘Reasonable Excuse’

As long as a child remains enrolled at a state school, a parent is legally obliged to ensure regular attendance unless he/she can show ‘reasonable excuse’.

If a child is physically ill, or is suffering extreme stress and anxiety as a result of school attendance, it should be possible to obtain a medical certificate to this effect, and this would constitute ‘reasonable excuse’ to keep the child at home pending consent for withdrawal.

Some home educators contend that their actual provision of a suitable and efficient education at home would constitute a ‘reasonable excuse’, but in the case of any dispute regarding parental provision, the local authority might make a referral to the Children’s Reporter and/or seek a criminal prosecution in the Sheriff Court on the grounds that a child has failed to attend, or a parent has failed to secure regular attendance at, school. In such circumstances, families should seek expert legal advice without delay.

In some circumstances, the local authority may agree to the child’s absent from school during the interim period while the consent is being processed. Any such arrangement should ideally be confirmed in writing and the parent should meanwhile keep a record of what is being done to educate the child, as the more supporting evidence there is, the easier it will be to satisfy the local authority regarding the provision of a suitable and efficient education.

All requests for consent should be acknowledged in writing and processed within a reasonable time scale not exceeding six weeks in order to adhere to the provisions of the statutory guidance.

Schoolhouse strongly recommends that parents follow the correct procedures and obtain written consent from the education authority before removing their child from school. 

Related Topic: Home Education Provision – Details around creating a plan of provision for your child.