Separated Parents: Considerations when deciding on your child's school

Published: December 20th, 2022

3 min

Choosing a school for your child has to be one of the most important decisions you will make for them as a parent or guardian. A school has the ability to shape your child's development and influence their future and therefore finding the right 'fit' for your child is of fundamental importance.

Decisions of this nature concerning your child need to be made with all persons who have parental responsibility for them, usually the parents. If you are unsure as to whether you have parental responsibility for your child, then seek advice from a specialist family lawyer.

For some separated parents, deciding on a school choice or deciding whether to change your child's school can cause complications, if you are not in agreement.

The best way to approach this issue is to firstly, do your research. Information on what schools have to offer, Ofsted reports, admission criteria and past grades are all readily available online. You might want to consider the practicalities such as getting to and from the school, academic credentials, whether it would affect any current contact arrangements and access to learning support.

Secondly, discuss your concerns/findings with the other parent or anyone else who may have parental responsibility for your child. You may find that you are able to agree on the best course of action for your child. If you find opening up those discussions difficult you may want to consider contacting a mediator or seeing assistance from a lawyer specialising in family law.

If an agreement cannot be reached, then you are able to seek the courts assistance by way of a Specific Issue application. The Court will hear both parents' position and be guided by the welfare checklist set out in S.1(2) of the Children Act 1989. The Courts primary concern is always the welfare of the child. The Court may consider the child's physical, emotional and educational needs, the likely effect of the move on the child, their age, sex and background, any potential harm the child could be exposed to and dependent upon their age and understanding - the child's wishes and feelings.

An application for change of schooling can be approached as a stand-alone issue irrelevant of whether or not you are the child's primary carer. If you have parental responsibility, you have the right, duty and obligation to decide how your child is educated.

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