Is it Illegal?

The Legal Issues

Article 42 of the Constitution sets out the relationships between the family, parents, children and the State with respect to education. It says:

1. "The State acknowledges that the primary and natural educator of the
child is the Family and guarantees to respect the inalienable right and duty of
parents to provide, according to their means, for the religious and moral,
intellectual, physical and social education of their children".

2. "Parents shall be free to provide this education in their homes or in
private schools or in schools recognised or established by the State".

3.1 "The State shall not oblige parents in violation of their conscience and
lawful preference to send their children to schools established by the State, or
in any particular type of school designated by the State".

3.2 "The State shall, however, as guardian of the common good, require
in view of actual conditions that the children receive a certain minimum
education, moral, intellectual and social".

4. "The State shall provide for free primary education and shall endeavour
to supplement and give reasonable aid to private and corporate educational
initiative, and, when the public good requires it, provide educational facilities
or institutions with due regard, however, for the rights of parents, especially in
the matter of religious and moral formation".

The School Attendance Act 1926 covers the necessary requirements to ensure that
all children between the ages of 6 and 16 have access to education. It has been
amended several times since 1926 - most recently to raise the school leaving age to
16 - but the legal requirements and obligations are still more or less unchanged.
See also the section on the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 below.
The 1926 Act consists of 27 Sections. The following is a synopsis of the relevant
clauses (the section numbers precede the relevant text, text in quotes indicates
quotation from the Act).
Please note that the following provisions have now been replaced by the Education
Welfare Act (2000), however we have included it from an historical point of view.

4.1 "The parent of every child to whom this Act applies shall, unless there
is a reasonable excuse for not so doing, cause the child to attend... school..."
4.2 "Any of the following shall be a reasonable excuse for failure to comply
with this section..." 4.2.b "that the child is receiving suitable elementary
education is some manner other than by attending a national or other
suitable school" [4.2.c allows parents to object to available schools on
religious grounds].
6.2 requires parents to notify both relevant school attendance authorities if
the child moves home from one district to another (in rural Ireland this would
be the Gardai).
15.1 The principal of the school is obliged to report any absent children to
the school attendance authorities.
15.3 The principal is obliged to give parents a certificate of attendance
when the child is withdrawn from school.
16. Parent must within three days, communicate in writing to the principal
the reason why a child is not attending school.
17.1 "Whenever a parent fails so cause his child to attend school ... and
there is no reasonable excuse ... the enforcing authority shall serve on such a
parent a warning in prescribed form" 17.1.a "requiring him within one week to
cause the child to attend school or give to the enforcing authority a
reasonable excuse for not so doing" 17.1.b "informing him that in the event of
his failing to comply with the warning, proceedings will be instituted against
him under this Act in the District Court."

**The Education (Welfare) Act 2000** came into law in the summer of 2000 and repealed the School Attendance Acts 1926 to 1967 with effect from 5 July 2002. It provides a major reformulation of the law in regard to all matters connected with school attendance and children’s welfare in education.

School Attendance Officers have become Education Welfare Officers and the Gardai are no longer involved with school attendance matters. A National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) has now been established on a statutory basis. The Registration and Assessment system for children educated in places other than recognised schools is now in place. Under the Act parents or guardians of home educated children are obliged to provide details of the educational provision to their child(ren) to the NEWB. Under the Constitution children have the right to receive a “certain minimum education”. If the application is approved then their child(ren) will be included in the register. Registration is not an automatic process and may possibly be refused. An appeal process has been included in the Act for such an event.

Section 14 of the Education (Welfare) Act, 2000 concerning children
educated at home.

A set of guidelines has been drawn up by the Schools Inspectorate for the
implementation of the Act (Guidelines on the Assessment of Education in Places
Other Than Recognised Schools).

The E(W)A 2000, the Guidelines and application forms are also available from the
Government Publications Office, Molesworth St, Dublin 2, Tel 01-6710309 and the
Depatment of Education and Science,

**Download the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 (PDF file 104KB)

**Download the Guidelines on the Assessment of Education in Places Other Than Recognised Schools (PDF file 1.33MB)

**Download the Information Sheet on Irish Home Education (RTF file64KB)

**Withdrawing your child from school and how the Registration and Assessment System works