A 'parent' is defined in education law as including all natural parents, including those who are not married; any person who has parental responsibility and any person who has care of a child.
Everyone who is a parent, as defined above, has a right to participate in decisions about their child's education; even though for day to day purposes the school's main contact is likely to be a parent with whom the child lives on school days.
Unless there is a relevant court order limiting their involvement with their child, parents who do not live with their child, but who contact a school directly to make a request, have the right to receive information from the school (such as pupil reports); the right to participate in activities (such as voting in elections for parent governors); the right to be asked to give consent to activities (such as school trips); and the right to be told about meetings involving their child (such as a governors' meeting on their child's exclusion).
For more information about the rights of all 'parents', in terms of their involvement in their children's education, see the A to Z entry for parental responsibility.
Parents are responsible for ensuring that their children of compulsory school age receive full-time education either at school 'or otherwise'. Parents whose children are on a school roll have a duty to ensure that their children attend regularly.
Schools, in turn, are strongly encouraged to adopt a policy of contacting parents on the first day of a pupil's unexplained absence.
Note: compulsory school age is from five to the last Friday of June in the school year that a child turns 16.
Schools should make parents aware of the following policies and documents in school which will apply to their child:
Parents have a right to be informed of their child's progress in school. The law requires that headteachers of maintained schools provide parents (and pupils if they so request) with:
Parents may also request, 'at all reasonable times', access to information relating to the school curriculum.
Governing bodies, with support from the headteacher, must:
Revised statutory guidance which governing bodies must have regard to when fulfilling their duties in respect of home-school agreements. All previous material and guidance relating to home school agreements has been replaced by this new content.
A guide for headteachers and school staff on developing a school behaviour policy and the powers members of staff have to discipline pupils.
An explanation of legislative requirements with regards to managing complaints in schools, and a set of recommendations that should be considered by the governing body when compiling a complaints procedure.
Information about the regulations governing publishing school information on the internet.