Compulsory Registration Children Not In School – Parents Duties

This post focuses on what Part 3 of the Schools Bill says after being amended on Report July 18th about parents’ duties in respect of compulsory registration of children not in school. (This post is not exhaustive – scroll to the end to see a list of what is NOT COVERED.)

In an earlier blog post I explained the amendments the government was proposing to make to the children not in school clauses of the Schools Bill and I said how these amendments made the registration clauses less bad. This post shows what the latest version of the Schools Bill (as amended after Report July 18th) says that parents will have to do. NB the relevant clauses are now clause 33 to 36.

The way that the compulsory registration bit of the Schools Bill is intended to work is for many more subsections to be added to the Education Act 1996 after section 436A (children missing education) namely 436B to 436Q. In this post I am just discussing 436C, 436D, and 436I. 436C deals with the contents of the register; 436D deals with parents’ duties and; 436I deals with what happens if it appears that parents are failing to comply.

Because the focus of this post is on parents’ obligations, I am starting with 436D

Here is the copiable text of 436D(1)

436D Provision of information to local authorities: parents
(1) A parent of a child who becomes eligible to be registered by a local
authority in England under section 436B must
(a) inform the local authority that the child is eligible for
registration, and
(b) provide the authority with any of the information referred to
in section 436C(1)(a) and (b) that the parent has.

This is what 436C(1) (a) and (b) says, firstly as a screenshot, then as copiable text.

436C Content and maintenance of registers
(1) A register under section 436B must contain the following information
in respect of a child registered in it—
(a) the child’s name, date of birth and home address,
(b) the name and home address of each parent of the child …

436D(4)(a) 15 day time limit for providing name, address etc

There is to be a time limit of 15 days for providing the initial details in respect of an eligible child once the law comes into force. This can be found at 436D (4)(a) “in the case of the duty in subsection (1)(a) or (b), the period of 15 days beginning with the date on which the child becomes eligible for registration by the local authority”

436D(2) (a) and 436C(1)(c) Providing details of means by which the child is being educated

436D(2) then goes on to introduce FURTHER DUTIES in responding to local authority queries about “the means by which the child is being educated”; we can see this because there is now a reference to 436C(1)(c) Here is a screenshot of 436D(1) and (2) followed by copiable text of 436D(2)(a)

436D Provision of information to local authorities: parents (2) A parent of a child who is registered by a local authority in England
under section 436B must
(a) provide the authority, on request, with any of the information
referred to in section 436C(1)(a) to (c) that the parent has […]

436D(2)(a) contains a reference to 436C(1)(a) to (c) so here is the first screenshot of 436C(1)(c) since we have previously only seen 436C(1)(a) and (b)

And here is the copiable text of 436(1)(a) to (c)

436C Content and maintenance of registers
(1) A register under section 436B must contain the following information
in respect of a child registered in it—
(a) the child’s name, date of birth and home address,
(b) the name and home address of each parent of the child, and
(c) such details of the means by which the child is being educated
as may be prescribed.

It can be seen that 436C(1)(c) is in a completely different category from 436C(1)(a) and (b) firstly because there is no definition of “details of the means by which the child is being educated” and secondly because 436C(1)(c) includes the phrase “as may be prescribed” ie it is to be dealt with via regulations later. There has been some discussion in the House of Lords on precisely these points which I have blogged about here.

436D(4)(b) Not less than 15 days to respond to request for details

Should the new law be enacted, the local authority would then be empowered to request further information including about the means by which the child is being educated as per 436C(1)(c) and the parent would have a minimum of 15 days to respond. We can find the “not less than 15 days” reference in 436D(4)(b) screenshot followed by copiable text.

436D Provision of information to local authorities: parents

(3) A person must comply with a duty under subsection (1) or (2) within the relevant period.
(4) In subsection (3) “relevant period” means—
(a) in the case of the duty in subsection (1)(a) or (b), the period of 15 days beginning with the date on which the child becomes eligible for registration by the local authority;
(b) in the case of the duty in subsection (2)(a), such period of not less than 15 days as the local authority specify in the request;

436I What happens if parents don’t respond satisfactorily – use of school attendance order process

The registration duties are to be compulsory, which is to say that there will be sanctions or penalties for not complying. The penalty will NOT be a fine; the reference to fines in respect of 436E is for “education providers” which is not being discussed here.

Instead of fines, the government is proposing to use the school attendance order process. This does NOT mean that an attendance order will automatically be served nor does an attendance order equate to the child’s being obliged to attend school; it is more properly to be regarded as a REGISTRATION ORDER ie requiring the parent to REGISTER the child at a school. Read more about SAOs here. NB 436I reproduced below as copiable text and as a screenshot is intended to REPLACE section 437 in England.

Clause 34 School attendance orders
(1) The Education Act 1996 is amended as follows.
(2) After section 436H (as inserted by section 33) insert—
“School attendance orders: England
436I Preliminary notice for school attendance order
(1) A local authority in England must serve a notice under this subsection
on a person in relation to a child if it appears to them that—
(a) the person is a parent of the child, and
(b) any of Conditions A to C is met.
(2) A notice under subsection (1) is a notice requiring the person on whom
it is served to satisfy the local authority within the period specified
in the notice that the child to whom the notice relates is receiving
suitable education.

(3) Condition A is that—
(a) the child is a child in the local authority’s area,
(b) the child is of compulsory school age, and
(c) the child is not receiving suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.
(4) Condition B is that—
(a) the child is, or may be, eligible to be registered by the local
authority under section 436B,
(b) the authority have asked the person for information for the
purpose of ascertaining—
(i) whether the child is or should be registered by the
authority, or
(ii) whether the person is in fact a parent of the child, and
(c) the person has not provided that information within the period of 15 days beginning with the day on which the request was made or has provided incorrect information.
(5) Condition C is that the person is under a duty to provide information
to the local authority under section 436D(1)(b) or (2)(a) in relation to
the child and—
(a) has not provided the information, or
(b) has provided incorrect information.
(6) A notice under subsection (1)
(a) must be served within the period of three days beginning with
the day on which it appears to the local authority as specified
in subsection (1)(a) and (b), and
(b) may not specify a period of less than ten days.

Please note that this post has intentionally left some things out in order to focus on a few key elements. For example, it doesn’t mention the fact that 436B indicates that the register is to include some children on roll at school who are being flexischooled (reasoning that the ultimate sanction for not registering on the children-not-in-school-register is that a school attendance order is served requiring the parent to register a child at school which is redundant when the child is already registered). Nor does it cover the duty placed on providers via 436E nor the long list of information to be included in the register which can be found at 436C(2) nor the additional optional information at 436C(3) nor the access to – or data sharing from – the register at 436C(4) and (5), nor – in respect of school attendance orders – the shorter timescales at 436I(6) and 436J(3) plus harsher penalties at 436Q.



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