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Parental responsibility and parents’ evenings: schools hotline FAQs


Practical Law Public Sector addresses the questions that schools may ask local authorities regarding day-to-day school management and sets out the legal issues to consider when responding:

This FAQ looks at what a school can do when a divorced father wishes to attend his son’s school’s parents’ evening. For details of all our school hotline queries, please see Practice note, Schools hotline FAQs.

Q: Eric has had no contact with his father since his parents’ divorce. Now Eric’s father has approached the school and asked to come to a parents’ evening. How should the school respond?

A: As Eric’s parents were married, his father has parental responsibility for him (unless it has been removed by a court, which is rare) (section 2, Children Act 1989). He therefore has the right to attend the school’s parents’ evening, unless the terms of a court order specifically prevent this or it would be likely to cause harm to Eric. The headteacher could consider meeting both parents to work out a compromise in advance of the parents’ evening; for example, providing written feedback to one parent and the other attending in person. Alternatively, the school could offer the parents separate appointments on the evening if this was considered necessary.

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