Jury service and home education
When stay-at-home and/or home educating parents are called for jury service, it can be well nigh impossible to make suitable arrangements for children whose care/education is not sub-contracted to childminders, nurseries or schools.
It is a source of continuing frustration that the specific responsibilities of stay-at-home parents and home educators are so often overlooked or misunderstood when it comes to granting excusal or exemption. Even when a parent has been excused on one occasion, jury service is usually only deferred for a year before a fresh citation is received, and the issue is one that has been raised increasingly frequently in home education networks over the past few years.
The fact that evidence of home educating ‘status’ is generally required by the court service before granting a deferment to parents of school-age children, excusal or exemption poses particular problems for those families who, quite legitimately, have no contact with their local authorities.
When applying for an excusal or exemption, it is important to underline the fact that parents have direct responsibility for the full-time care of children below school age and/or for the compulsory education “by other means” of school-age children in accordance with Section 30 the Education (Scotland) Act 1980. It would most likely constitute arbitrary interference with Article 8 of the ECHR to require parents to abandon their children for jury service and may well also contravene the Equality Act 2010.
The Scottish Court Service has been furnished with information on elective home education and excusals have since been granted for parents who have been called (and recalled) for jury service owing to their concomitant legal responsibilities which could not reasonably be undertaken by anyone else in their absence.
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