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Academies Ignore Parental Rights: lack of statutory support for parents

(13 Posts)
Rosie61 Tue 07-May-13 20:52:50

Academies do not have to provide information to parents either.

I doubt that many of us realise that we are not entitled to anything more than a brief annual report from an Academy school. If they choose to provide a one liner, 'Your child is progressing as we would expect', no parent is entitled to anything more.

This is because the statute that governs the provision of information to parents does not apply to Academies. Being a 2005 Act it actually predates the current push to Academies. However the Department of Education sees no reason to change this as they consider this lack of regulation to be consistent with the greater freedoms and lack of regulation they wish Academies to have.

I feel very strongly that ignoring the Common Law rights that we parents have, in order to discharge our duties and responsibilties for our children, is fundamentally wrong and I am personally keen to do something about this.

If any of you have a child at an Academy currently doing GCSE or AS or A levels and your child makes a request that the results be kept from you, you have no independent right to see those results. Your neighbour with a child at a non-Academy has the right to see those results enshrined in statute (2005). I would like to do something about this but have no idea how to go about it. Any advice, or support would be gratefully received.

prh47bridge Tue 07-May-13 21:36:06

I see you have posted this twice. I will repeat the response I gave elsewhere and add some further information...

Whilst the regulations applying to reports provided by academies are less prescriptive than those for other types of school they could not get away with a one liner as alleged. They must provide an annual report of the pupil's progress and attainment in each of the major subject areas taught - Education (Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations 2010 Schedule 1 paragraph 24(1)(f). Academies are also subject to the Freedom of Information Act and Data Protection Act.

Minor point but the rules for LA-maintained schools were set out in regulations introduced in 2005, NOT an Act of Parliament (and therefore not statute). The rights to which you refer are NOT common law rights. Common law refers to law that has been developed through decisions made by courts as opposed to being passed by parliament.

On a more practical note, I do not know of any academy that does not provide parents with full reports at least as good as those provided by maintained schools.

tiggytape Tue 07-May-13 21:47:19

As ever, prh knows this stuff!

I'll repeat my bit from your other post on this too:
A person waiting for A Levels results is likely to 18 years of age
As such, I would fully expect their exam results to be kept confidential if they (as an adult) requested this. It certainly wouldn't be anything I would campaign against under 'common law rights

Rosie61 Wed 08-May-13 07:13:56

Hi Tiggytape,
Those doing GCSE and AS are between 15 and 17 usually.

tiggytape Wed 08-May-13 07:45:48

And people of 16 are entitled to make medical decisions entirely without parental knowledge or consent which is arguably more important than a few AS modules.
All you say may be true but I am actually surprised that any school would go against the wishes of young adults studying at their school - if academies don't have to do this then I actually feel that is a good thing.

annh Wed 08-May-13 07:53:26

Rosie61 are you actually aware of an academy which is acting as you have described with minimal reporting and refusing to provide information to parents against the wishes of pupils or are you scare-mongering?

Startail Wed 08-May-13 07:54:04

I think the OP is wielding a large spoon and grinding a very blunt axe.

Rosie61 Wed 08-May-13 08:42:56

Thank you for clarifying the nature of the annual report. However my main concern remains: the parental rights to information regarding their children appears to depend entirely upon which type of school they attend. This cannot be right because our legal duties and responsibilities are the same. Some parents are being given more information than others to discharge these duties and I do not believe that parents voting for Academies realise that they are voting to reduce their rights to information to an annual report.

I know of an academy that has refused to provide a child's GCSE results and has refused to discuss any aspect of the child's annual report.

Parental rights, duties and responsibilities are enshrined in Common Law with the leading authority being Gillick, a House of Lords decision, which specifically mentions education. The regulation to which we both refer provides a firm basis at law for all parents of non Academy schools in England and therefore disadvantages parents of children attending Academies and enables Academies to ignore parental rights if they choose to do so. Admittedly it would be a very poor school that operated such a policy but the current law allows them to do so and there are Academies that are doing this now.

tiggytape Wed 08-May-13 09:01:01

Some parents are being given more information than others

But that's not true. You are saying the less prescriptive nature of wording surrounding academy practice means that potentially some parents could get less info than others. In reality though they follow best practice. I don’t know any academies who send out one line annual reports and hang up on parents calling to make enquiries about their child.

there are Academies that are doing this now

Really? Right now there are academies that send home a one line report to parents saying 'your child's doing fine and that's all you need to know' I seriously doubt it.

prh47bridge Wed 08-May-13 11:34:51

As I have already pointed out the law requires an Academy to give an annual report to the parents detailing the pupil's progress and attainment in each major subject area taught. If, as you allege, there are academies sending home one line reports they are breaking the law.

The Gillick judgement mentioned education in passing. It noted that parental duties include educating their child and that the parent has the right to control the "person and property" of his or her child until the child reaches an age where they are able to make their own decisions. It reiterated the principle that "parental right endures only so long as it is needed for the protection of the child". So not as helpful to your case as you seem to think. The main outcome of the Gillick judgement was to define "Gillick competence" which defines the circumstances in which a child under the age of 16 can consent to medical treatment without their parents' knowledge or consent.

The main area where the 2005 Regulations give parents additional information is, as you say, exam results. Even there the regulations do not give you as many rights as you think. Specifically, if the pupil is no longer of compulsory school age and has left the school the parent does not have any right to a report covering the pupil's final year at school nor do they have any right to see results of public exams taken in the final year. That means you generally do not have the right to see your child's A2 results and if your child leaves at the end of Y11 you have no right to see their GCSE results. The school must prepare a school leaver's report for any pupil leaving once they are over compulsory school age but that only goes to the pupil. The parent has no right to receive a copy of that report nor does the parent have the right to an ordinary report in the pupil's final year of school.

Rosie61 Wed 08-May-13 12:11:07

Perhaps I should clarify a few things.

First, I do not hold an ideological position against Academy schools and am actually an advocate for choice and diversity. However, I'm also an advocate for transparency and consistency when it comes to parental rights, duties and responsibilities.

Secondly, I have direct experience of an Academy withholding all information from a parent of a child on the basis that no parent of a child over 12 years old has an independent right to information regarding that child. Their position is that, once a child reaches 12 yeras of age the Academy will defer to the child. The Academy cites the DPA for that position. Once the EFA stepped in it, reluctantly, produced an annual report. As it happens the report did conform to the 2010 Act that prh refers to. However, the Academy positioned the report as having gone over and above the legal requirements because it only had to provide a one line report along the lines I had originally stated.This is clearl wrong and I'm indebted to prh for her clarification of that point.

Thirdly, as part of that refusal to provide any information the GCSE results were not forthcoming. However, an application to the state school that the 16 year old had sat the exams at delivered the results. This was AFTER the school refered the matter to the lawyers and were advised that the 2005 Regulations did provide parental rights to that information, and AS and A2s and confirmed that the Academy did not have to provide any of that information at all to parents.

Once again I would stress that as the law currently stands Academies certainly have the potential to withhold from parents the information that they would automatically receive from non academy school and some ARE INDEED DOING this. I would like to see a position where all parents are treated in the same manner and, at the very least, publicity for this position so that parents voting for academies understand some of the implications of their votes.

tiggytape Wed 08-May-13 12:37:30

Rosie - I think when you get a difficult situation with a young person wanting to keep things from their parents, many organisations have to be very careful. Even if the parents have the right to see something or know something, a child who is deemed mature enough will have their wishes considered too.

In health terms for example, the NHS will not just act on parental consent once a child becomes old enough to have an informed opinion. The parents may agree to a treatment but if a child who is mature enough to make a rational refusal objects, the parental rights don't automatically win even though the child is much younger than 16. In such cases the child can be given equal say in all but the most serious of cases.
And by the ages of 16 to 18 it is assumed the young person not the parents have the final say.

Ditto GCSE and AS results. If a child insists that their parents are not told these results, a school (any school - academy or community school) would be in a horrendous position despite what the law may say. I suspect in those circumstances any school would seek advice if it could not be resolved.
The way forward ideally is to get all sides together and try to ease any fears the child has but if that cannot be done, a young adult of 16 and definitely one of 18 should have their view respected and the information not disclosed.

It is unclear in your example if the Academy had a policy of not issuing any reports for a child over the age of 12 just on principle or if there was one child who did not want his parents to know his GCSE results which is different.

prh47bridge Wed 08-May-13 12:53:54

They are clearly wrong about reports and I am appalled that any Academy would think they can meet their obligations with a one line report.

The 2005 Regulations only require the school where the pupil is registered to provide information about exam results, etc. (Education (Pupil Information) (England) Regulations 2005 paragraph 6(2)(a)). Unless the child was a registered pupil at the state school where they sat the exams the school was not required to disclose the results. Indeed, the state school may have breached the Data Protection Act by supplying the information, particularly if they were aware that the child objected. If their lawyers advised them to disclose information about a child who was not a registered pupil they need new lawyers as that is definitely incorrect advice.

As I said previously, you are definitely not entitled to the results of any exams your child takes in their last year of school - Education (Pupil Information) (England) Regulations 2005 paragraph 6(3). So you only have the right to A2 results if they are taken early. If your child leaves school after Y11 (even if it is to go to a sixth form college or similar) you have no right to the results of any GCSEs taken in the final year. I suspect most schools give that information to parents anyway but you have no legal entitlement to it.

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