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Out of School
If your child is out of education, the local authority should ensure that they continue to receive suitable full-time education.
Often a child can be out of school because they are refusing to go, or have been excluded. This could indicate that the child or young person has special educational needs, meaning that the local authority has further duties towards them.
Duties to children out of education
Local authorities are required to identify children who are out of education. This means that the local authority must be aware of every child, or young person, in its area that is not registered in a school or receiving a suitable education. If the child or young person is educated at home, the local authority will want to make sure that the education is suitable. As long as it is, the child or young person is not considered out of education.
The local authority is required to make sure that children of compulsory school age who are not receiving a suitable return to full time education as soon as possible. For pupils aged 16-18, local authorities have a power rather than a duty to arrange education provision.
Alternative provision includes:
- Education provided by the local authority directly to a child or young person who is not attending school due to illness, exclusion or other reason
- Education for pupils who are the subject of a fixed-term exclusion
- Pupils being educated off-site
If a child or young person is receiving alternative provision, it should be of the same quality as that available in school. However, there is no clear requirement about the amount of education that should be provided. This means that the alternative provision does not have to be for the same amount of time per week as if the child or young person were attending school.
If a child or young person receives a fixed-term exclusion, their school is responsible for education from the sixth day of the exclusion.
If a child or young person receives a permanent exclusion, the school should notify the local authority immediately. The local authority will then be responsible for providing education from the sixth day of the exclusion. The local authority should also help the parents, or the young person, find a new school placement and help securing a placement as soon as possible after the exclusion.
Out of education for other reasons
If the child or young person is out of education for any reason other than exclusion, there is no specific date by when education should be provided. However, general legal principles would suggest that it should be as quickly as reasonably possible.
The obligation to provide education will normally fall on the local authority, even if the child is a registered pupil in a school.
My child is not receiving education
If your child or young person is missing education, it is important to understand the reason why. Once that is understood, it is possible to establish who should be providing education and if there are any specific deadlines by when the education should be provided
Children and young people with special educational needs are at particular risk of missing education. As such, if your child or young person is missing school, or refusing to attend, you should give careful thought to requesting an EHC needs assessment or a statutory assessment by the local authority.
Our specialist education law solicitors have substantial experience in supporting families whose young people struggle to access education. This includes children or young people who have been excluded, or are too ill to attend school.
If you have any questions about the right to access education, or concern that your child or young person is out of education, our specialist education law solicitors will be happy to help.