School is a major part of your children’s lives and a central pillar providing structure and social support, as well as academic opportunity. When you and their other parent separate, school may become particularly essential as a source of continuity and stability for your children.
Your child/ren may wish to keep your separation a secret from school, but it’s actually very important that their head teachers and class teachers know what’s going on so they can keep an eye on your children’s welfare and spot any worrying changes in their behaviour or performance. Because school is such a major part of your children’s lives, it’s vital that you both show a keen and curious interest in what they do there and how they feel about it.
Avoid only one parent “dealing” with the school.
The legal bit
All parents with parental responsibility are entitled to make decisions about their child’s education and receive information from the school even if, for day-to-day purposes, the school’s main contact is with the parent whom the children live with on school days.
Anyone with parental responsibility has the right to:
- Receive information – such as pupil reports
- Participate in statutory activities – such as voting in elections for parent governors
- Be asked to give consent - such as to the child taking part in school trips (the school does not however need the consent of both parents and where a residence or child arrangement order is in place, will abide by the decision of the resident parent)
- Be informed about meetings involving the child - such as a governors’ meeting on the child’s exclusion As parents you should agree moving to a different school together. If agreement cannot be reached then amicable offers negotiation sessions to help resolve specific issues. Government guidance says that a school can refuse a place to a child if there is a dispute between parents and wait until the dispute has been settled by the court.
Here are some questions and considerations to work through:
- How do you propose communicating your separation to teachers (and any parents) at school?
- Have you arranged for duplicate information to be sent to each of you – does the school have all your up to date contact information?
- How will you organise attendance at school functions, such as; parent’s evenings, school plays, sports day, etc?
- If options arise over which schools your children might attend, how would you hope to arrive at an agreed choice of school with the other parent?
- Who will pay for school activities or school meals?