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Registration Regulations England  - 2011 proposals

Page history last edited by Clare 8 years, 7 months ago

The proposals

 

Once again (i.e. we've been here in 1995 and 2006) the government are trying to delay would-be Home Educators from deregistering from schools. They know what a hard time they had in the past convincing the public, Home Educators and MPs alike, that delayed deregistration is acceptable, so they have tried to sneak the delay in by rushing changes through and not consulting Home Educators at all! A delay in deregistration would be a wedge in the door that would lead to step by step erosion of parental primacy in the care of their children and in any case it is illegal.

 

The Department for Education issued this letter to a very limited circle of "friends" which did NOT include any home education support groups or individuals despite them having hundreds of home education contact details on file for ready e-mail dissemination:

 

http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/p/pupil%20registration%20regulations%20-%20handout.pdf

 

Department for Education

Sanctuary Buildings
Great Smith Street
London
SW1P 3BT
0207 340 7216
greg.midcalf@education.gsi.gov.uk
www.education.gov.uk
Sent by Email to: See list at end
Date: 7 March 2011
CHANGES TO THE PUPIL REGISTRATION REGULATIONS AND SCHOOL ATTENDANCE CODES
I am writing to you to inform you of our intention to make a number of changes to both the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 - as amended by The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2010 - and to the School Attendance and Absence codes, and to give you the opportunity to comment on the proposed changes.
The current regulations and codes have become outdated and do not support the Government’s desire to give schools more freedom and flexibility. The changes set out in this letter are designed to help to reduce burdens on schools, to bring the regulations in line with changes in Government policy and to improve the quality of the data available from the school census. The Department will continue to keep the regulations and codes under review and may make further changes in future years as necessary. We would welcome any suggestions for further improvements to them.
The changes are explained below:
Non Payment of Boarding School Fees – At present the Pupil Registration Regulations prevent maintained boarding schools (or Academy boarding schools, of which there will soon be several) from removing pupils from the admissions register (i.e. terminating their right to attend the school, or "off-rolling") if they can no longer afford the boarding fees. While it is reasonable for a school to have a policy that supports those coming towards the end of their time at school, the regulations as they stand might be an incentive for parents who know they are unable to secure funding for a boarding place to apply, and obtain a place with the intention of subsequently defaulting on their boarding fees.
We propose to amend Regulation 8 to allow boarding schools to remove pupils from the school roll where their school fees are not paid – no sooner than the end of the school term in which the school fees were not paid. We will also make clear in supporting guidance that the pupil place can only be removed as long as:

The local authority, in the case of a maintained school, has considered whether a case exists for remitting the child's boarding fees;

Removing the child from school does not have a significant negative effect on his or her education – e.g. where a child is in year 10 or 11 and/or taking exams; and,

That the school has given sufficient notice to the relevant Local Authority and the parents, to enable to suitable place to be found in an alternative school.
Parents deciding to Home Educate – Graham Badman's report on his Review of Elective Home Education in England, published in June 2009, recommended that when parents are thinking of deregistering their child from school to home educate, schools should retain such pupils on roll for a period of 20 school days so that should the parents change their minds, the child could be readmitted to the school. This period would also allow for the resolution of such difficulties that may have prompted the decision to remove the child from school. This recommendation was supported by the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee Report on Home Education published in December 2009.
We propose to add a regulation so that where a parent has de-registered their child from school to home educate them, the school will retain the child on the admissions register for a period of 20 school days. To ensure that the school’s absence statistics are not affected by this we propose to change the definition of the absence code Z so that schools may use it to mark the register over the 20 day period (Code Z is currently used as an administrative tool that allows schools to put new pupils on the Admissions Register in advance of them starting at the school, rather than having the burden of putting them all on at the same time, and not have to mark them as absent in the register).
Dual Registration – Pupils are often registered at more than one school - referred to as dual registration. This can be for a variety of reasons such as receiving alternative provision at a PRU while still being on the register of their home school. The way the registration codes are currently set-up mean that a dual registered pupil’s attendance and absence are marked in the registers at both schools and are therefore double counted in the School Census.
We propose to amend the data collection system so that the registration code D (used to by schools to mark the register when the pupil is due to attend the other school) is not counted in the School Census. We will also make it clear in guidance that each school should only mark any absences the pupil may have during the sessions they are due to attend that school.
School Consortia – The introduction of the 14-19 Diplomas has meant that pupils taking diploma courses often have to attend lessons at other schools/establishments. Rather than have these pupils registered at each of the consortia schools, to help reduce bureaucracy, we advised that these pupils could be classed as guest pupils and therefore only need to be registered at the ‘main’ school. However, we consider that the regulations as presently drafted are open to interpretation and do not provide legal certainty about how a pupil who attends different institutions on a flexible basis should
be registered. We think this approach should apply to any qualifications delivered by consortia of schools.
We propose to clarify the Regulations so that pupils attending diploma consortia schools, as part of their course, only need to be placed on the registers of their ‘main’ school rather than on all of the schools they attend as part of their course work. We will also make it clear in guidance that the consortia schools must have suitable and robust safeguarding systems in place for monitoring and reporting the attendance and absence of the pupils involved.
School Admissions – The Schools Admissions Code states that a school is able to withdraw a place once a child has started at the school where that place has been fraudulently obtained. This is not however included in the Regulations as one of the prescribed grounds on which a pupil can be removed from the school register.
We propose to amend Regulation 8 to make it consistent with the School Admissions Code so that schools are able to remove a pupil from the school roll if their school place has been fraudulently obtained.
Sixth Form Admissions – The School Admissions Code also states that a school’s sixth form admission criteria (for instance academic entry criteria) may apply regardless of whether pupils are already on the school roll or not. Pupils already on the school roll but who do not meet the criteria, regardless of their wish to stay on, may be refused entry to the sixth form. However, the Pupil Registration Regulations set out that such a pupil can only be removed from the school roll if they indicate their intention not to return to the school. Removal of the pupil in these circumstances is therefore currently unlawful.
We propose to amend Regulation 8 to make it consistent with the School Admissions Code so that schools are able to remove a pupil from the school roll if they do not meet the academic or other agreed sixth form admission criteria.
Returns to the Local Authority – Regulation 12 places a duty on all schools to inform the local authority where a pupil fails to attend school regularly; where a pupil has been absent from school without the school’s permission for a continuous period of 10 schools days or more; or where the pupil is to be removed from the admissions register (off-rolled) on specific grounds. The specific grounds for off-rolling are that the pupil:

has ceased to attend school and the parent has given written notice that the pupil is receiving education otherwise than at school (ground d)

has ceased to attend school and no longer ordinarily resides within a reasonable distance from the school (e)

has a medical condition that prevents them from attending a school (g)

is in custody for a period of more than 4 months and will not be returning to the school at the end of that period (i)

has been permanently excluded (m)
Schools must inform the local authority as soon as the ground for removal is met and no later than the actual date of removal.
There are however a number of grounds for removal that are not currently included in the regulation. These are where a pupil:

has failed to return to school following an extended family holiday (f)

has been absent from school without permission for more than 20 days and neither the school nor the local authority has been able to trace them (h)

has ceased to attend any school that is not a maintained school, an academy, a City Technology College or a City College for the Technology of the Arts (l).
Although schools already have a duty to inform the local authority where a pupil fails to attend school regularly or where they have been absent from school for more than 10 days, they do not then need to inform the authority if they then go on to off-roll the pupil for these reasons.
We propose to amend Regulation 12, which places a duty on all schools to inform the local authority where a pupil is to be off-rolled, to incorporate the grounds above. We also propose to include in this amendment the new grounds for deletion as set out earlier in this letter. These are where:

boarding school fees are not paid.

a pupil does not meet the schools academic or other agreed sixth form admission criteria - to bring the regulations in line with the School Admissions Guidance.

a school place has been fraudulently obtained
Method of Making Entries to the Admission and Attendance Registers – Previous regulation versions have always assumed that schools keep hard copy Admission and Attendance registers and have included a separate clause about the use of computer systems. The use of computers to record admissions and attendance is now widespread, with all maintained schools using some form of electronic management Information systems (MIS). It is therefore apparent that the regulations need to be updated to reflect this.
We propose to amend Regulations 13, 14 and 15 to bring them up-to-date taking account of the widespread use of electronic systems for keeping Admission and Attendance registers.
Collecting Y code Data –The 2010 regulation change allowed schools to use the Y code (school closure or pupil absence due to exceptional circumstances) where pupils are unable to get to school due to adverse weather conditions. The Department is however not able to collect data on the usage of the code - i.e. we are unable to monitor accurately how many
sessions are lost due to adverse weather conditions such as last winter’s snow. The code is already part of the Management Information Systems (MIS) used by schools to record and report attendance and absence so collecting the data would not mean any additional burden on schools – just a change to the MIS software so that the code is picked up in the School Census collection process.
We propose to make changes to the MIS and the School Census so that data on the use of the Y code can be collected.
Guidance to Schools and Local Authorities
Attached with this letter is a draft version of the revised guidance for schools and local authorities that is intended to make the regulations and use of the attendance and absence codes clearer. The previous two sets of guidance have been merged to remove duplication and any repetition of what is already set out in the regulations themselves. The main purpose of the revised guidance will be to explain how the attendance and absence codes should be used in relation to the regulations. The revised guidance will be more concise, less detailed, and less prescriptive, so that teachers will be able to exercise their own judgement in the interpretation of the regulations.
Timetable
Our aim, subject to the results of this consultation is to bring these changes into force in time for the start of the next school year (1 September 2011) to enable schools and local authorities to be able to benefit from them as soon as possible. The timetable for doing this is very tight and to meet our commitment to give schools a full term’s notice, in advance of the regulations coming into force, we will need to shorten the recommended 12 week consultation period considerably. We do believe however that, because the changes are not controversial, the benefits of getting them in place as soon as possible outweigh this. If consultation responses indicate otherwise, we may reconsider when we plan to bring in these changes. The proposed timetable to bring in the changes is as follows:
By 7 March - letter emailed to appropriate recipients
By 21 March - responses received
W/c 28 March* - regulations to be signed
By 1 April* - regulations laid in parliament
6 April - House rises for recess
On 1 September* - regulations come into force
* these timings depend on nature and content of the comments received from this letter.
We are therefore seeking your views on the proposed changes to the regulations, the revised guidance, and the timescales for getting them in place. Your response to this letter will determine how the regulation changes are worded and which of them will be implemented and when.
The Department would welcome any comments you may have on this matter.
For us to be able to take account of any issues you raise please send your responses to me at the following email address greg.midcalf@education.gsi.gov.uk by no later than 21 March 2011.
Yours sincerely,
Greg Midcalf
Policy Manager
School Attendance Safety Team
To: The Education Forum
Ofsted

 

 

The Minister's excuse

 

When questioned about his actions Nick Gibb, Minister for Schools, wrote to an MP:

 

"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
constituents.

With best wishes
Nick Gibb MP"

 

AHEd are not impressed

 

AHEd members are outraged by this sleight of hand and will oppose the proposals vehemently.

No Secretary of State has the power to ignore Primary Legislation and Nick Gibb cannot choose to be the exception.

 

The Education Act 1996, s7, gives parents (not the state) the responsibility to decide if and when their child is registered at a school for the purpose of receiving their education.

Education otherwise than at a school has equal legal status to school education and it is entirely to the parent to decide whether or not to use a school.

The government cannot decide on a whim, or on recommendation from bogus researchers or Select Committees, to ignore Primary Legislation and introduce a delay in deregistration when a parent decides to withdraw their child from a school to home educate them.

 

What is more, Home Educators are entirely unimpressed by spurious placations about safeguarding school places for the vulnerable by this method, when a much simpler system of ensuring schools hold a school place open for a short time after a deregistration would be much more sensible and would not contravene Primary Legislation.

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