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. Home education is a valid choice made by a small number of families.
Stirling Council recognises that home education is chosen for a variety of reasons by parents and may offer distinct benefits for some children and young people. Key to its effectiveness and success is parental understanding of the legal right of the child or young person to a broad, general education up to the age of 16.
Stirling Council seeks to develop trusting, positive relationships with parents who choose to home educate and also with children and young people who are home educated.
These guidelines provide advice on the roles and responsibilities of Stirling council and parents in relation to children who are home educated.
This guidance is issued in line with Section 14 of the Standards in Scotland's Schools etc. Act 2000 and should be read in conjunction with that Act and the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 and The Scottish Government’s Home Education Guidance (2007). Included, Engaged and Involved Part 1: A Positive Approach to the Promotion and Management of Attendance in Scottish Schools (2019) also provided information about home education.
• This guidance applies to home education provided by parents, not to education provided out with school, by Stirling Council.
• Definition of a parent includes a guardian or any person who is liable to maintain or has parental responsibilities in relation to, or has care of, a child or young person as defined in Section 135(1) on the Education (Scotland) Act 1980.
• In relation to the child or young person themselves, there is a legal duty to consult with them in accordance with Article 12 of the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the Children’s Scotland Act 1995.
• The age of 12 is taken as the age of sufficient maturity for a young person to have the ability to form an opinion on decisions that affect them.
Parents do not have to give a reason for choosing home education when requesting to withdraw their child from school. Stirling Council’s Home Education (HE) Officer will consider how the parents intend to educate their child, not the reason for doing so. However, if the reason is shared and relates to concern about the school, efforts will be made to resolve these concerns.
Under Section 35 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980, parents of a child or young person who has been attending a school under the management of a local authority (a ‘public school’), must seek the local authority’s consent to withdraw their child from that school and the local authority must not unreasonably withhold consent.
Consent from the local authority is not needed in the following situations:
• The child has never attended a public school.
• The child has never attended a public school in the Stirling Council 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.
• The school the child has been attending, has closed.
While there is no statutory duty on parents to inform Stirling Council that they are home educating if they do not require consent, in the interest of developing positive relationships, home educators in the Stirling Council area or moving to the area, are encouraged to make contact with the local authority.
The process for withdrawing a child or young person from school is outlined in Appendix 1.
Where consent is required, it is Stirling Council’s aim to issue a decision within 6 weeks of receipt of the original application. In a small minority of cases, where information has to be sought from various sources, it may not be possible for a decision to be issued within 6 weeks. Parents will be kept informed of the progress of the application, the reason for any delay and the likely timescale to reach a decision.
Stirling Council will not unreasonably refuse a request to remove a child from school to home educate them. However, there are some circumstances in which a request for the removal of a child/children from a school roll in order to home educate them, cannot be granted immediately:
• If the child/children are on the Child Protection Register
• If the child/children are the subject of a supervision requirement
• If the child/children are referred to the Children's Reporter on care and protection grounds and the referral is being considered
• If the child/children have been referred to Social Work or the Police for child protection reasons and the matter is being investigated.
There is no statutory right to appeal against an authority decision to withhold consent to withdraw a child from school. However, all decisions should be reviewed internally by Stirling Council on request. If parents are dissatisfied with Stirling Council’s decision, they are entitled to follow Stirling Council’s complaints procedure.
A parent’s right to educate a child at home applies equally where the child has additional support needs.
It is reasonable for Stirling Council to ask parents to indicate how they propose to support their child’s additional needs at home.
When considering a request for consent, or considering whether the education is suitable, taking into account the age, ability and aptitude of the child, Stirling Council may need to consider the environment in which the child or young person with additional support needs is to be educated and its appropriateness for the child or young person. With the agreement of parents, an Educational Psychologist might be involved in assessing the proposed provision for the child or young person.
While Stirling Council is not responsible for the education of children and young people who are home educated, parents of home educated children and young people have the right to ask 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.
Occasionally a request is made to withdraw a child part time from school, for the child to attend school only on certain days, or for certain subjects. The feasibility of each request is considered on its own merit, while taking into consideration that under Section 28 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 ‘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.
Stirling Council follows a similar process to home education for any requests for flexible arrangements between home and school. In this case, children and young people remain on the school role but their time out of school for alternative educational arrangements is not recorded as an absence from school.
Careful work between the school and the family, with clarity about the learning being covered in each part of the arrangement, is required to make this successful.
Flexi-schooling is an agreement whereby both school and parent/carer take responsibility for agreed aspects of teaching and learning, regular Team Around the Child meetings will support effective partnership working.
|Information and advice||Stirling Council will provide clear and accurate information on home education.
Stirling Council will provide parents who are, or who are considering, home education, contact details of the Home Education (HE) Officer. The HE Officer will provide all necessary information and advice to those choosing to home educate, both during the withdrawal from a school and once they begin home educating.
|Contact with home educating families||Contact will generally be on an annual basis and can be in the form of a meeting, telephone conversation, letter, or email. The preferred method will be agreed with families.
Contact can be more frequent if home educating families wish it, or there are concerns on the part of Stirling Council regarding whether suitable education is being provided.
Any written reports will be copied to the parent and where appropriate, the child or young person.
|Record keeping||A written record setting out any discussions, recommendations or agreements made with parents will be maintained by the HE Officer.
When a child or young person is withdrawn from a school roll in order to home educate, their Pupil Progress Record (PPR) will remain in the school for one year. Thereafter it will be archived and stored by Stirling Council. The PPR is available to view on request by the parent and/or the child or young person.
|Practical support and resources||Stirling Council can provide advice regarding sources of financial support for home educating families.
While Stirling Council is under no obligation to provide any type of resource either physical or in terms of personnel, to home educating families, requests for practical support and resources may be considered on an individual basis.
|Review||Stirling Council will regularly review procedures and practices in relation to home education.|
|Education Authority Duty to Intervene||If there is reason to believe that an efficient education is not being provided, the Authority has a duty to intervene under Section 37(2) of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980.
Stirling Council works in partnership with parents and carers and will provide support and advice in response to concerns, before consideration of the need for an attendance order to be issued.
Stirling Council will seek to monitor ongoing home education provision. 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. An attendance order can be issued. 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.
All concerns are currently addressed through a partnership with parents, and the possibility of a return to school is explored. Working within the Children’s Services structure with Children and Families colleagues also supports these processes when any concerns are raised.
1. Prior to making any formal request for consent to withdraw a child or young person from the roll of any Stirling Council school, parents should check whether consent is required.
2. Applications to request formal withdrawal of a child or young person from the roll of a Stirling Council school, or for consideration of flexi-schooling, should be made in writing either via post of email to:
Chief Education Officer
Schools, Learning and Education
3. Included in the letter of request should be an outline of provision stating how a broad general education is going to be provided at home. This plan should include proposals to meet any additional support needs that the child or young person may have. The letter and outline of provision are passed on to the Home Education (HE) Officer to progress.
4. The HE Officer will make contact with parents to discuss the request and the outline of provision. They will give information on what records will be checked and, if appropriate, which agencies will be contacted as part of the process. In addition, the child or young person will be given the opportunity to express their views.
5. The HE Officer will compile a report to make a recommendation on whether the request should be approved or refused
6. If the request is approved, a letter will be sent to the parent from the Chief Education Officer advising them of this and noting the date of the removal of the child or young person from the school roll. A copy of the HE Officer’s report will be sent with this letter. The child or young person should continue to attend school until the date set out by the Chief Education Officer.
7. If the request is refused, a letter from the Chief Education Officer will set out the reasons for the refusal.
8. Circumstances in which a request for a removal from the school roll in order to home educate cannot be granted immediately are:
• If the child or young person is on the Child Protection Register.
• If the child or young person is the subject of a supervision requirement.
• If the child or young person is referred to the Children’s Reporter on care and protection grounds and the referral is being considered.
• If the child or young person has been referred to Social Work or the Police for child protection reasons and the matter is being investigated.