Thank you for your letter of 30 March addressed to the Secretary of
State, on behalf of a number of your constituents, about the proposed
changes to the Pupil Registration Regulations regarding parents choosing
to remove their children from school to home educate. I am replying as
the Minister of State for Schools.
I would like to reassure you that it is absolutely not our intention
that this change should affect the rights of parents to home educate
their children with immediate effect if they wish to do so. Similarly,
it is not our intention that this change should be used to put pressure
on parents to return their child to school. We will make this clear in
supporting guidance to schools and local authorities.
Our aim is to give parents and schools a short period of time to resolve
any issues that may have led to the parent withdrawing their child from
school, in particular where a parent may have been unfairly coerced into
home educating against their will. Currently, a parent who has withdrawn
their child from school has to re-apply for a school place, and there is
no guarantee that one would be available at the school which the child
had previously attended. The proposed change will secure the child's
place for twenty days before it is made available for another child.
I understand your constituents' concern that the proposed change may be
open to abuse from parents who may try to use it as a way of taking
their children on holiday during term time. I am confident however that
schools and local authorities will be able to recognise whether a
parent's wish to withdraw their child from school is genuine or not and
deal with the situation accordingly.
We believe that this and the other proposed changes to the Pupil
Registration Regulations will benefit parents and schools, which is why
we want the changes to come into effect for the start of the new school
year in September 2011. It is for this reason that the consultation on
the changes was targeted at key representative bodies, and unfortunately
it was not possible to include individual schools, local authorities or
home educators in the time available.
I hope this reply goes some way to addressing the concerns of your
With best wishes
Nick Gibb MP