Education, parental responsibilities and rights

In Scotland, parents’ responsibilities and rights are set out in law. The way in which this affects education service policies and procedures is detailed below. 

In Scotland, parents’ responsibilities and rights are set out in law, however, it must be noted that for educational purposes the definition of parents is wide and includes persons who do not have parental responsibilities and rights for other purposes.

Under section 30 of the Act it is the duty of the parent of every school aged child to provide efficient education suitable to age, ability and aptitude either by attending a public school regularly or by other means, e.g. home educating or attendance at an independent school. Section 35 of the Act requires the parent to ensure that a child of school age who is enrolled at a Local Authority school attends regularly. Where the pupil fails to attend school regularly without reasonable excuse, the parent will be committing a criminal offence

The Education (Scotland) Act 1980 requires parents to ensure that their children receive a suitable education from the time they are five. This is normally provided through attendance at school and parents have a duty to ensure regular attendance. 

If a child has to be absent from school for any reason, parents should contact the school as soon as possible to explain the absence. If an explanation of the absence is not provided, the period will be recorded as an unauthorised absence.  

Except in very exceptional circumstances family holidays taken out with the normal school holiday period will be classified as unauthorised absence. Exceptional circumstances include family bereavement or written confirmation from the employer that holidays must be taken during term-time. Parents should still notify the school of the intention to take children out for family holidays. 

Parents who are having general problems with their child’s attendance at school should contact the school as soon as a problem arises. Each school has an assigned Home-School Liaison Officer who will work with families and schools in order to identify the reasons for non-attendance and agree a plan for improving attendance. 

The Authority has a duty to provide education for children (up to age 16) and the power to provide education to young persons (up to age 18). The school leaving dates are the last day in May (mainstream schools) and the appropriate date in December (usually the last day of school in December). The summer leaving date may be extended to the end of session in special schools. 

Aberdeen City Council’s Minimising Exclusion Policy is operated locally at individual school level and is overseen by school Quality Improvement Officers. The policy is set within a value-based framework which recognises that: 

  • All pupils need to be included, engaged and involved; and 
  • All pupils have a right to feel safe in school. 

A pupil can be excluded from school for the following reasons: 

  • The parent of the pupil refuses or fails to comply with, or to allow the pupil to comply with, the policies and procedures of the school; or 
  • Where the school considers the pupil’s attendance at the school would be likely to seriously affect order and discipline in the school or the wellbeing of other pupils. 

It should be noted that the inappropriate use of social media by either pupil or parent making derogatory comments in relation to a pupil, staff member or school is likely to lead to exclusion. 

School policies and procedures are detailed in all school handbooks. 

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