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De-Registering Children from School – England and Wales

While Home Education is legal in all parts of the UK and although the law is essentially the same in its detail, the actual...

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    De-Registering Children from School – England and Wales

    While Home Education is legal in all parts of the UK and although the law is essentially the same in its detail, the actual legislation, applicable case law and the application of the law will depend on where you live. Please see the separate guidance for each area for the appropriate advice.

    If your child has SEN, please see our de-registration page for SEN children

    This guidance does cover Wales as there are few significant differences between the law for England and Wales. However, since the creation of the Welsh assembly minor differences have emerged. In Wales the Education (Pupil Registration) (Wales) Regulations 2010 set out the conditions under which a pupil’s name must be removed from the school register.

    The relevant regulations in England are The Pupil Registration Regulations (England) 2006.  Under regulation 8 (1)(d), a ‘school-age’ pupil’s name is to be deleted from the admissions register if:

    He has ceased to attend the school and the proprietor has received written notification from the parent that the pupil is receiving education otherwise than at school.


    If you have Children at School

    If you have children at school and you make the decision to educate them at home, it is important to make sure that their names are removed from the school register.

    De-registering is a straightforward process, but it can be useful to ensure that the letter is worded correctly and that the school does de-register, as requested.  The de-registration process involves writing to the headteacher or proprietor of the establishment.

    De-registration Procedure

    The de-registration procedure is different in each part of the UK (Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and wales, the Channel Islands and The Isle of Man each has its own procedure). In England deregistration is governed by Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 and for Wales by the Education (Pupil Registration) (Wales) Regulations 2010. While these regulations have slight differences, they are broadly similar.  See our separate guidance for each area.

    The 2006 registration regulations do not permit a delay in removing the child’s name from the school roll. Deregistration taking place is not at the discretion of the LA or the Head Teacher. With three exceptions (special schools, School Attendance Orders and Education Supervision Orders) there are no grounds in law for them to refuse to deregister your child. These exceptions will be discussed later.

    It is advisable to include the reference to the Pupil Registration Regulation as there have been instances of schools failing to know or obey the law, thinking, wrongly, that they have some discretion over whether to ‘allow’ de-registration. Local authorities are not entitled to stipulate that the home education must be ‘approved’ before the child’s name can be taken off the school register.

    Download our sample de-registration letter here: Please delete his/her name from the register in accordance with Education (Pupil Registration) Regulation 8(1)(d) 2006, as he/she is now receiving education otherwise than at school.

    Education (Pupil Registration) Regulation 8, 2006

    Under regulation 8(1)(d), a ‘school-age’ pupil’s name is to be deleted from the admissions register if:

    He has ceased to attend the school and the proprietor has received written notification from the parent that the pupil is receiving education otherwise than at school.

    Government Guidance says there is no requirement to obtain an agreement from the school or Local Authority.

    1. School and local authorities should not seek to prevent parents from educating their children outside the school system. There is no requirement for parents to obtain schools and local authorities agreement to educate their children at home. 

    In the case of pupils who are being taken out of school for the purpose of being home educated, the “ground for deletion” is met under paragraph 8(1)(d) when ” the proprietor has received written notification from the parent that the pupil is receiving education otherwise than at school.” It should be noted that the 2006 statutory regulations specify that these are the necessary and sufficient “ground for deletion” under 8(1)(d).

    Paragraph 12(3) reads as follows:

    (3) As to the contents of the admission register comprising particulars relating to a pupil whose name is to be deleted in accordance with regulation 8(1)(d), (e),(g),(i) or (m), the proprietor shall make a return to the local authority for every such pupil giving the full name of the pupil, the address of any parent with whom the pupil normally resides and the ground upon which their name is to be deleted from the admission register as soon as the ground for deletion is met in relation to that pupil, and in any event no later than deleting the pupil’s name from the register.

    The Head may invite you into the school to discuss things; you absolutely do not have to do this, but you can if you wish and if you have a good relationship with them.

    Once you have contacted the school with your deregistration letter, government guidance states that the register must be marked as ‘authorised absence’

    Special Educational Needs (SEN)

    It is the same process for a child with a statement of Special Educational Needs in mainstream school (some schools will try to tell you otherwise).

    View details of SEN De-registration here

    Notice Period

    You are not obliged to give any period of notice and can take the letter in as you pick your child up on their last day, or on the morning of the first day they don’t attend.


    Normal Academies are treated the same way as state schools, unless they are also special schools, no permission is required.

    Before you start the process, is your child actually registered at a school?

    If your child has not been enrolled in a school, you need not inform anyone of your decision. Parents may exercise their right to home educate their child from an early age so they child may never have been previously registered at a school.

    Only a parent can register a child, so you should be aware whether your child has been registered.  Some LAs believe that you agree to registration if you sign a statement of special educational needs (SEN Statement). This is not so.

    Your child will be deemed to be registered if you have been offered and accepted a school place in writing and may still be so even if your child does not attend.

    A court might also deem a child to be registered if you have accepted arrangements from the LA to transport your child to school, (for example if your child has been statemented to attend a special school and then you accepted travel arrangements made by the school or LA to attend) though this would be a very weak argument and might be overturned should there be an appeal.

    If the child does not attend a special needs school (see separate guidance), to deregister your child you must send a letter to the Head Teacher of the school. Your child should then be de-registered. The Head Teacher must immediately inform the Local Authority.

    Is your child of Compulsary School Age (CSA)?

    Your child is of “compulsory school age” on the 1st January, 1st April or 1st September following their 5th birthday. Children becoming 5 years old between 1st January and 31st March are of compulsory school age at the beginning of the term after 1st April. If your child is registered at a school and is of CSA, then you must formally deregister the child.

    If your child is not of CSA but is attending a school (nursery or reception class).

    The school (nursery or reception) must equally deregister your child upon request, however, the child should be de-registered under s8(3) of the Pupil Registration Regulations rather than s (1) or s (2). This is important because it effects how the deregistration is treated by the school and subsequently the local authority. It is not legally necessary to send in a formal deregistration letter. However, it’s probably beneficial to send them a simple letter informing them that you are no longer intending to send your child to the school and want them to remove him or her from the register.

    De-registration Letters

    It is important that you send the de-registration letter by recorded delivery so that you have evidence of having sent the letter to the school, otherwise deliver it by hand but get a receipt.

    There have been many occasions where schools have denied receiving any de-registration letter and have gone on to pursue the parents for children being truant from school.

    It is a criminal offence to keep a child from a school to which the child is a registered attendee. It is advisable that you obtain written confirmation from the school that the child has been de-registered so that you can be sure it has been done. (See the example de-reg letters section for templates).

    Refusal to De-register

    On rare occasions, some schools are ill-informed regarding the law and may refuse or delay de-registration.

    Whilst it is illegal for them to do this, it should not be too much of a problem providing de-registration does eventually occur. However, some schools insist that you go in to discuss the de-registration, others even go as far as to insist that the child should continue attending school while approval is sought from the Local Authority.

    This is completely illegal and unenforceable in law. If this does occur, I recommend another letter is sent out reminding the school of their obligations.

    In law, de-registration from a school in England, which is not a special school, is to be performed upon written request to the proprietor of the school by the parent.

    Failure to do so is a criminal offence. Whether or not the child has an SEN has no bearing on the process.

    You will find the relevant legal framework in the Education (Pupil Registration) Regulation 2016 particularly section 8(1)(d).

    Since deregistration has been unlawfully denied, it follows that any attempt to fine the parents for the child’s nonattendance is unenforceable.

    Therefore you should simply ask, ‘I would be grateful if you would confirm that de-registration has taken place, according to my wishes.’

    Special Needs Schools

    You need permission, from your Local Authority, to de-register if the child(ren) is in a special school, anywhere within the UK. (see sample De-registration letter for SEN) (See the SEN De-registration guidance for more details.) Where a local authority has planned for a child to attend at a special school and the child has become a registered pupil at the special school (that is by attending at that school and for that reason being properly placed on the register there), the child cannot be removed from the admission register without the consent of the local authority who made the arrangements.

    However, permission may not be unreasonably withheld. Parents may challenge a refusal to deregister with the secretary of state and the courts.

    SEN statements are not grounds for refusing to deregister and special units in ‘normal’ schools are not the same as special schools and therefore, permission is not required.

    Contacting the LA

    Unless your child is attending a Special Needs School, there is no requirement for parents to contact the LA themselves. This should, legally, be done by the school.

    If the school fails to inform the LA it is a problem for the LA and the school, it has no implications for the parents or child. At some point, the LEA may contact you to enquire about the educational provision for your child(ren). This may be quite soon after de-registration or sometime later.

    For some, the LEA may not contact at all. They are entitled to make informal enquiries. The Local Authority have no rights or duties in terms of home educated children and you are not obliged to have contact from them unless they have evidence that the child is not receiving a suitable education. See our section on LA contact for further information.

    Independent/private Schools and Independent Special Schools

    If you have a child that attends a private school which you fund yourself, then you need to de-register in the usual way, as for a standard mainstream school. This is the case even if it is a special school. No permission is required.

    School Attendance Orders – (SAO) (Where this is already in place and is to be revoked in order to home educate.) SAOs given to already home educated children in an attempt to get them back into school is a different issue and will be explained separately.

    Where a school attendance order is already in force with a school, the parents should seek to have this revoked by the Local Authority (LA) on the grounds that the parents are now providing a suitable education ‘otherwise’ than at school. If they fail to do this the child will remain on the register and the parents could be prosecuted or issued with a penalty notice for failing to ensure regular attendance. A School Attendance Order issued in respect of a child that is already being home educated is a different matter to which we have provided separate guidance.

    S.442 Education Act 1996 – If at any time the parent applies to the  Local Education Authorities and Children’s Services Authorities  requesting that the order be revoked on the grounds that arrangements have been made for the child to receive suitable education otherwise than at school, the authority shall comply with the request, unless they are of the opinion that no satisfactory arrangements have been made for the education of the child.

    (3) If a parent is aggrieved by a refusal of the Local Education Authorities and Children’s Services Authorities to comply with this request under subsection (2), they may refer this to the Secretary of State.

    Deletions from Admission Register/Revoking the School Attendance Order

    8.— (1) The following are prescribed as the grounds on which the name of a pupil of compulsory school age shall be deleted from the admission register—

    (a)where the pupil is registered at the school in accordance with the requirements of a school attendance order, that another school is substituted by the local education authority for that named in the order or the order is revoked by the local education authority on the ground that arrangements have been made for the child to receive efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude otherwise than at school;

    d)in a case not falling within sub-paragraph (a) of this paragraph, that he has ceased to attend the school and the proprietor has received written notification from the parent that the pupil is receiving education otherwise than at school;

    Where a child has been registered with a school following a School Attendance Order, any parent wanting to home educate must first write to the local authority and ask for the SAO to be revoked on the grounds that arrangements have been made for the child’s education. The local authority may request further information at this stage. The SAO must be revoked before the child’s name can be removed from the school register.

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