The Scottish Home Education Forum has had several enquiries from concerned parents who have withdrawn their children from school due to concerns over the corona virus and risks to vulnerable family members.
It would appear that schools have no idea, and have received no guidance, on how to respond when parents decide to take such action and some have initiated procedures to remove children from the roll for ‘elective home education’ which parents have not requested.
Our advice is that parents who are withdrawing children on a temporary basis during the pandemic should not be designated as electively home educating (or seeking permanent removal from the roll) as their sole intention is to mitigate the risk of compromising the health and safety of their families and others who are vulnerable.
We would encourage parents who make the decision to remove children from school as a precautionary measure to put their reasons in writing, indicating that they consider they have ‘reasonable excuse’ in law for failure to ensure regular attendance due to exceptional circumstances, but that they expect their children to remain on the school roll during this unprecedented threat to public health. They should also expect absences to be marked as authorised, given these exceptional circumstances.
Parents are also entitled to expect the LA/school to make arrangements to facilitate their children’s ‘education at home’ on a temporary basis (whether online or by sending work home) as it is the LA’s duty to ensure the education of all pupils for whom they are responsible. Home educated children are not, by definition,’pupils’.
Parents should not permit schools to ‘off-roll’ children into home education as a convenience when this is patently not the parental intention.