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ADD/ADHD Information - Scotland

School Attendance

Individualised Educational Programme - IEP

School Attendance

There can be many reasons for a child or young person not to attend school. You may have decided to educate your child at home. Your child might be experiencing a problem such as bullying, or feeling isolated, or he or she may be off school due to ill health, family problems, or because of exclusion.

What can I do if my child is having problems at school?

There is a general duty on schools and local authorities to ensure the safety of pupils while at school and every school should have an anti-bullying policy, which you can ask to see. If your child seems to be experiencing problems which are affecting his or her willingness or ability to go to school, it is important to talk to the guidance teacher, form teacher, or perhaps the head teacher. You can let them know about the problems and to ask for support from the school and the Education Welfare Officer in encouraging your child to attend regularly. You may also wish to consult the educational psychologist or your GP about the situation.

If the reason your child is not going to school is because of ill-health or the need to care for another family member, then the education authority must make arrangements for alternative education. If the reason is due to exclusion then the education authority should find another school for your child without undue delay, or should make arrangements for alternative education. If you want to withdraw your child from school, the following information should be helpful.

What does the law say about school attendance?

Parents must make sure that their child has an education that is "efficient" and suitable to the child's "age ability and aptitude". You can do this either by sending your child to a state school or an independent school, or by educating them at home. Schools should be open for at least 190 days of education per year.

A child or young person of school age has the right to a school education, but this does not over rule your parental right to decide how to ensure an efficient education for your child. Children and young people also have the right to be consulted about decisions which affect them.

What happens if a child or young person stops going to school?

You must ask the local authority for permission to withdraw your child if he or she has been attending a state school, unless the school has been closed or your child has finished primary education in one school but has not started secondary education in another. Local authorities should not withhold permission unreasonably, and should have clear policies on the procedures for dealing with requests to withdraw pupils from school. All children and young people enrolled at state schools should attend regularly, and should not be absent without a reasonable excuse. In practice, most local authorities employ Education Welfare Officers, who will make contact with the family and try to help resolve any problems that are preventing the child or young person from attending regularly.

In cases of persistent non-attendance, the law says that the child's parent maybe guilty of an offence and the local authority could take steps such as referring the case to the Reporter to the Children's Panel, making an attendance order or referring the matter to court where the parent could be fined or imprisoned.

Home education and education in independent schools

If your child has never attended state school, the school has been closed, or your child has finished primary education in one school but has not started secondary education in another, you can choose an independent school or home educate without seeking permission from the local authority. There should be a named contact within the local authority who can give advice to parents who are thinking about home education. Local authorities do not have to provide any resources for children or young people who are educated at home, but should be reasonable and flexible if asked to do so. In March 2004 the Scottish Executive issued detailed guidance, "Circumstances in which parents may choose to educate their children at home".

Home education and education in independent schools for children and young people with a Record of Needs

If your child has a Record of Needs and has previously been enrolled at a state school, the local authority may grant permission for home education, or education in an independent school. The local authority has no legal obligation to provide resources for a child or young person with a Record who is home-educated. However, if the Record specified measures which should take place in the home, then the local authority would be expected to take a reasonable approach. The local authority has no legal duty to provide resources for a child or young person going to an independent school, unless the local authority has placed your child in the independent school or the school is the nominated school in Part VI of the Record of Needs.

The local authority has a duty to keep the Record of Needs under review, and should be satisfied that the education being provided is suitable, taking the child or young person's needs into account. You or your child, if s/he is over 16 but not yet 18, have the right to ask for the Record to be reviewed if there has not been a review within the past 12 months. A Future Needs Assessment should be carried out for any child or young person with a Record of Needs, to consider future plans once the young person reaches school leaving age.

The legislation relating to Records of Needs has been reviewed, and the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act, was passed on 1 April 2004. However the Act has not yet been brought into force. - Ecosse ADDers 2005

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