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Understanding and Dealing with Issues relating to Parental Responsibility

Schools are required by law to engage with pupils’ parents in a number of different ways. They can find themselves caught up in disputes between a number of adults, each claiming to have parental responsibility for a particular child. Schools are also expected to navigate complex living arrangements, particularly for children who are living in social care, where parental responsibility can be confusing or unclear.


The DFE has produced guidance to help schools understand their obligations and duties in relation to the rights and responsibilities of parents, as recognised by education law.  The Guidance uses the terms:


  • must – where a school has a duty
  • can – where a school has a power (not a duty) under statutory or common law
  • should – for guidance on good practice


The guidance should not be treated as a complete and authoritative statement of the law.  It refers to legislation that sets out schools’ legal duties.


Who is this advice for?


governing bodies

school leaders

school staff

local authorities

diocesan boards


It applies to:

  • maintained schools – including sixth form and nursery year groups,
  • maintained nursery schools,
  • academies and free schools – including sixth form and nursery year groups





03 Sep 2018

Kathleen Wallace
Governor Services
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