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Can local authority insist you take your kids to school?

(12 Posts)
Pinkchatz Fri 21-Dec-12 15:26:37

My children are in an ok school at the moment but we are moving the end of next month to another home that's bigger and more affordable but I know the schools in the area closer to the property have long waiting lists and I need places for five children in various years (infants/juniors) so jnow I will have to wait a fair amount of time to get them all into new school.

The thing is we don't drive and to get to their current school will mean sitting on a bus for up to 45mins during school run times whereas now they live a five min walk away. I also have smaller children in a double buggy and am dreading trying to do buses 4 times a day, 6 if you count taking and dropping my 3 yo at nursery that is also at the school, not to mention the amount of money I'll be spending on bus fares when money is already tight with a large family.

So I was thinking, can I just tell the school that until my kids get into new schools closer to new home I will be teaching them at home or will they just say I should just stuggle along on buses? The SENCO when I mentioned moving (eldest son has statement) mentioned walking in a jokey way but there is no way their little legs would take that four times a day!

I have no idea about Home Schooling though and am a bit worried about my son and how he will take to lack of routine with no formal school environment.

Any ideas/comments appreciated smile

EauRougelyNight Fri 21-Dec-12 15:59:32

If you want to take them out of school to educate at home then you need to de-register them. This is fairly simple, you just need to write a letter.

The LEA can only insist that your children go to school if they issue a compulsory attendance order (think that's what it's called?) but that involves going through court etc. and that is only if they are not satisfied that they are receiving a proper education. Some LEAs are more nosy than others from what I have heard.

There are more helpful people on here that I'm sure will post soon. I've also found [[ this website]] really helpful.

Saracen Fri 21-Dec-12 17:06:51

It is totally up to you which way you want to do it. If you take your children out of school then you do have to educate them. But the requirements are straightforward to meet and you have great flexibility in exactly how to do it. It doesn't have to look anything like school. As EauRougely mentioned, it is theoretically possible for home educated children to be ordered back to school, but the law is very much on your side and it is almost unheard of for that to happen if the parent is actually educating the child and is prepared to explain her approach. It isn't worth losing any sleep over that possibility.

What you need to do is figure out what would actually work best for your family. The decision is in your hands.

It sounds like you feel that trekking back to their current school is totally impractical, so you might as well remove them from it. Then you might like to see what your options are in order to figure out whether home ed is part of the solution. I should think someone on one of the Mumsnet schooling boards can help you with the exact procedure but I guess you need to find out what places are available in the schools near your new home, visit the schools to see whether you like them and decide whether any of your children can go to local schools. For a particular child, if there are literally no places available then the LA has to provide one upon request. They might do this by squeezing the child in at a "full" school or by shipping him off to another school. If it is far enough away then they have to provide transport. So you might find it is feasible after all. Of course, there is still a good chance they will tell you that you have to get your kids to several different local schools at the same time, or be home to meet the taxi which is collecting one child at exactly the same time you are meant to be dropping another child at a different school. Still, it's worth seeing what they will offer you.

Meanwhile you could go along to a local home ed group, and chat more with people here on the home ed board to get a sense of what home education might be like.

Whichever way you play it, you can change later on if it isn't working out. It is not a problem to go in and out of home education, so don't get too stressed over whether you are making the right decision initially. Whatever seems best, try it and see how you get on.

Saracen Fri 21-Dec-12 17:11:53

Oh, if it is your eldest you are most worried about home educating, and he has a statement and he thrives at school, I should think you can get the statement amended to reflect your new situation so he would have priority for a local school. If you don't know how to do that, ask on the special needs board.

FionaJNicholson Fri 21-Dec-12 17:21:00

they are either registered at school or educated otherwise. if not registered at school, MUST be educated otherwise, else you'd be pushed to register them. therefore, looking at it from the other way round, if you don't want to register them, you need to be home educating. it is perfectly possible to home educate with a statement. i have info about this on my website edyourself but someone else will need to link to it cos i don't want to get barred for self-promotion.

EauRougelyNight Fri 21-Dec-12 17:38:37

Oh, my link failed! I just noticed that. Here it is again. A very good website it is too grin

Pinkchatz Fri 21-Dec-12 17:45:39

Thank you everyone.

I think I will talk to the school when they go back in January, have meeting with the SENCO and explain my concerns, as I feel that my son will be better staying in school for the structure it provides and to limit change for him, with new home, I think no school too will be too much. Hopefully they can push for him to attend the local school or maybe arrange transport to get him to the school he's at now?!

I will have to try to find out from the LA whether it will be feasible for ALL the children to be in school locally or at least shipped off to the same school. I wouldn't want them going to different schools as this would just add more stress for them and me organising things, plus my eldest daughter has already mentioned that she doesn't want to go to a new school without her siblings.

Think I will look on the Special needs board about my son. Thanks

CatKitson Sat 22-Dec-12 09:54:43

" I think no school too will be too much"... Just to say home school does NOT mean no school. It means there is school. At home. With a parent facilitating their education.

I hope you find a good solution.

TotallyTopical Sat 22-Dec-12 10:00:14

The other option that you can bear in mind is that it doesn't have to be all or none. If it suited your situation, you could get some into school and home educate the rest until places at the same school come up (or continue home educating because you find it's great grin)

Pinkchatz Sat 22-Dec-12 18:38:30

I did not mean no school meant no education, merely that it isn't the environment he is familiar with.

Mosman Wed 26-Dec-12 00:29:09

He's not familiar with being at home ?

yggdrasil Fri 28-Dec-12 09:40:27

Pinkchatz, you need to do what feels right for you and your family. It sounds like a really hard decision to make.

It does sound as though your preference is to have the kids in school, but you're worried about getting them there. It also sounds as though you actually would only be homeschooling them temporarily, meaning that you might be inclined to follow a structured program of study to keep them in line with whatever they'd be doing at school.

Can I suggest you talk to your LEA here? If you are looking at a situation where you will homeschool unless you get a place, there might be something that can be done. One option might be to put any kid who can get into it into your catchment area school and for the others to start as and when places become available.

These things vary across the country I think but round here, there are no waiting lists per se, if a vacancy comes up a place is allocated based on priority scoring. So a kid with an (older, I believe) sibling in the school gets some points, a kid who lives in the catchment area gets points, a kid not in the catchment area but living close gets points depending on how far exactly, and so on. I believe. I think that weight is also given to the report of a SENCO. There's no waiting list per se, each time a place comes up everyone who has registered an interest is scored using the above criteria. I don't know if this is standard but my point would be, talk to your LEA.

I do actually think that homeschooling 5 kids short term when you don't drive could be a hard option. I don't think that you shouldn't do it or anything, and its far from unheard of, I just think, be aware it might not be that much easier. If you were considering it long term my advice would be different, the problem is that homeschooling is often its hardest when the kids and you are adjusting to life outside school., so you'd risk getting that hard work without the pay off of years of the relaxness of homeschooling.

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