New Register of Children Not in School – England Only


The Government plans to introduce compulsory registration for children not in school. This will require a change to the law and so the Government is using the Schools Bill as the mechanism for making new laws. The Children Not in School [CNIS] register differs from previous schemes for a specific home education register although home educated children will come within scope, as will children with certain types of flexischooling arrangement plus children attending unregistered alternative provision. Everything discussed here will only apply to England.   

In addition to the registration measures, the Government has also said it wants to introduce a duty for local authorities to provide support (at the discretion of the LA) although at this point government funding has only been allocated for registration, not for support.  

At the time of writing in August 2022 we have a much more concrete view of the information parents will be required to provide for the register than we did when the Schools Bill was first announced.  We know that the Government wants to learn more about unregistered and illegal schools, as well as private tutors, and we know that parents who fail to provide the required information will receive a formal notice which could end in a school attendance order. Attendance orders are also to be fast-tracked.  

Changes will not take effect until the Schools Bill passes into law and until all the relevant regulations are in place.  Outside the Schools Bill the Government is planning to introduce a number of other measures which may particularly affect families of children with special educational needs notably those with EHCPs who may already be disproportionately impacted by the Schools Bill.  

Home education is a legal option for parents to choose for their children. Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 [ ] states that “the parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable— (1) to his age, ability and aptitude, and (2) to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.”  

All  references to “suitable education” in the Schools Bill CNIS Register are to be understood as follows. New clauses will be added to the Education Act 1996 after section 436A (3) [ ] [children missing education, first introduced in 2006] which says “In this Chapter, “suitable education”, in relation to a child, means efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he may have” “Chapter” means Chapter II School Attendance which runs from section 436A through to section 448, as shown here  

At present the Government does not collect statistics on the number of children who are home educated. Local authorities have figures for children in their area who are taken out of school to be home educated but there has never been a requirement for parents to inform the local authority if their children are not starting school in the first place, nor to inform a new local authority about home education when they move house.  

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