Working in family law means that we often have to help parents engage with their children’s schools. Some schools are very helpful, and will happily arrange for separate parents’ evenings and will include both parents in school correspondence. Some schools however can be very difficult, and will refuse to engage with one parent if the other has arranged for the child to attend that school.
In most cases, there will be a Court Order that deals with this issue, and schools soon start to cooperate once an Order is in place. However, an Order is not necessarily required if you want to be involved in your child’s education but you are not the primary carer.
A case was heard this month, where a Father wanted to spend time with his two daughters. One daughter, A, made it very clear she did not want to see her Father. The Court believed that it was still important for the Father to be involved, and therefore ordered indirect contact. What was also highlighted in this case was the obligations of a school under specific legislation.
If your school is publicly funded, you have a right to your child’s educational record under s.576 of the Education Act 1996. If your school is independent, the school must provide you with an annual school report under paragraph 24 of Schedule 1 of the Education (Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations 2010. Any other information must be requested under the Data Protection Act 1988, but a child can refuse permission for this.
Therefore, even if you don’t have a Court Order, you still have a legal right to know what education your child is receiving. If your child’s school continues to not engage with you, then you should remind them of this. If there is any other information you would like from the school, and your ex-partner will not permit it, then you may need to seek a Specific Issue Order under the Children Act 1989.