Seeking Legal Advice

Historical Newspapers

In general we hope and trust that a parent who is well informed about their legal obligations and those of the Boards will not have any significant problems.  

We advise that parents connect with the home educating community and seek the advice and support of their peers both regarding any contact from the Boards and for the practicalities of educating their children, the combined experience and knowledge of the community is invaluable.  

In most cases this will be sufficient, but we believe that in some circumstances professional legal advice is invaluable.  Parents are often unsure of when and how to seek such advice, and hesitant to take what seems like a big step.  We would like to encourage people to seek legal advice earlier rather than later, and to feel comfortable getting the help they need.  Failing to get early advice can make things more complicated in the long run.

At what point should a parent seek legal advice in dealing with the Boards?

It is very much a matter for each individual home educator as to when they wish to seek legal advice, however, they would definitely be advised to do so immediately as the Board threaten or indeed issue, any formal notice or proceedings.

Is there any risk in seeking advice? 

There is no risk with seeking legal advice, it cannot be seen as an indication of 'something to hide' or a cause for concern, and the Board would not have to know that a parent has done so.  

What are the costs of initial advice and any ongoing case?

We asked a solicitor with experience helping home educating families.  Obviously this may differ depending on who you contact but he tells us:

"This very much depends on the nature and circumstances of a particular case. It also depends upon whether a parent is entitled to legal aid for advice and assistance. If they are, then there will be no cost to them, although they may have to pay a small contribution to the legal aid fund. Whilst legal proceedings can be very costly to take/defend, legal advice can be given relatively inexpensively, and I would be happy to offer a free half hour consultation to all parents.

If legal proceedings are issued (the matter is going to court) then it should be possible to seek legal aid in the child’s name, depending on the circumstances of the matter.  If they are not eligible for legal aid, I would be happy to offer a free 30 minutes consultation and thereafter, could charge a reduced hourly rate of £75 per hour (plus VAT) for any advice or assistance given. I could also offer a fixed or capped fee instead for any initial advice / assistance. This is likely to be in the region of £250 - £300 plus VAT." (January 2015).

How would we contact a solicitor?
We are happy to put you in touch with someone who we have had help from in the past, or you may have your own contact.  They will best be able to help if you can give them copies of any correspondence with the Boards, or any relevant documents.  Sometimes you will be able to get quick advice, or they may need to go away and do some research.