A child's school can have an impact on the rest of their lives. Unfortunately some separated parents may not agree on the school their child or children attend and may wish to move them. This however, requires the consent of both parents.

Parental rights and responsibilities

In Scotland parents have rights and responsibilities in respect of their children. These are provided for in Sections 1 and 2 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. Mothers automatically receive these rights. Fathers acquire parental rights and responsibilities if they were married to the mother any time following the child's conception, or in the case of unmarried fathers, if they are named on the child's birth certificate.

In the event that a child's birth has been registered without a father being named on the birth certificate, parental rights and responsibilities can be acquired by that father either by him entering into an agreement with the mother where she confers these right on him, or by making an application to the court.

Which parent has the right to change their child's school?

One of the rights afforded to parents is the right to determine which school their children should attend. While the parents of the child remain in a relationship, this is a decision which is usually taken jointly and is either based on the catchment area of the place where the child lives, or a decision by the parties to have the child educated privately.

What if I'm relocating and need to change my child's school?

Problems often arise, however when relationships break down and the parent with whom the child lives (known as the "resident parent") decides to relocate. In those circumstances, where the resident parent chooses to move away from the catchment area of the child's current school or outwith a reasonable commuting distance from any private school which they may be attending, a change to the child's schooling may require to take place. In the first instance, the resident parent has a duty to consult with the other parent with a view to them making a joint decision about where the child will then be educated.

What if we cannot agree between us on changing my child's school?

If agreement cannot be reached, the resident parent ought not to make a decision unilaterally regarding the child's education, but should instead apply to the court for an order, known as a "specific issue order", allowing the removal of the child from the roll at their current school and have them enrolled at the new school of their choice.

What can I do if my child informs me that they're moving school and I don't consent to this?

In the event that the consent of the other parent has not been sought, and no court order has been applied for, the resident parent is not entitled to make decisions regarding the child's schooling unilaterally. . In these circumstances, the other parent can apply to the court for an order preventing the removal of the child from the roll at their current school until the court has had the opportunity to determine matters. This order is known in Scotland as an "interdict". If an interdict is granted by the court, the child will remain on the roll at their current school until all the relevant information is put before the court so that it can determine where the child should be educated. This will be based on what would be in the child's best interests

We can discuss with you your situation as well as the options you have available to you and can help you reach a conclusion.


Donna McKay

Legal Director