Education supervision orders – advice to parents

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Why apply for an Education Supervision Order (ESO)?

When a child is not attending school regularly and the parents are not co-operating with school and the Inclusion Service to improve the situation, prosecution will be considered under Section 444 Education Act 1996.

When it has been demonstrated that parents are doing all they can to encourage their child to attend school, but the child is refusing without good reason, the inclusion officer (IO) may, in consultation with his/her manager, consider application for an Education Supervision Order under Section 36 Children Act 1989.

The IO would discuss this as an option with parents and would only proceed with their full agreement and co-operation.

What is an ESO?

An ESO is a court order that formalises the plan drawn up by the inclusion service in partnership with the child, parents and school as well as other agencies if appropriate, to bring about a return to regular school attendance.

The application is heard in the Family Law Court where Magistrates have the power to grant the order.

An ESO is granted for twelve months initially but extensions can be applied for annually for up to a period of three years until the end of compulsory education.

Parents and children may wish to seek legal advice if an ESO is proposed.

If the Inclusion Service is considering an application for an ESO the situation has become very serious. Should regular school attendance not be achieved by the granting of an ESO, the matter may then be referred to social care for them to make an assessment of the home situation.

How might an ESO help?

  • An ESO focuses on the child's/young person's refusal to attend school and seeks to ensure that the child/young person takes responsibility and appreciates what this might mean for his/ her future. The child/young person would have to explain their poor school attendance to the Magistrates.
  • The granting of an ESO supports the parents by giving authority to the IO to supervise the order. In this role the IO will advise, assist and befriend the child/young person and will help and if necessary direct the parents in enforcing school attendance.
  • The ESO would place formal expectations upon all involved in the plan to support the child/young person in improving their school attendance.
  • What is the process prior to application for an ESO?
  • The IO writes to the parents and the child/ young person inviting them to an education planning meeting which would be chaired by a senior inclusion officer.
  • This meeting would be attended by school representatives and any other agencies who are working with the family. At this meeting the child/young person's views and concerns would be considered and a voluntary plan drawn up to support his/her return to regular school attendance.
  • Where it is considered necessary, a review meeting will be arranged, no more than six weeks after the initial meeting.
  • If the child/young person is failing to co-operate with the plan and attendance remains a concern an application for an ESO will be considered.
  • If parents fail to co-operate with the plan and attendance remains a concern they may be prosecuted under Section 444 Education Act 1996 and an ESO will not be applied for.

Once an ESO is granted

  • The IO is appointed as the supervising officer with the power to support and direct the child/ young person and parents to enforce regular school attendance.
  • The parents retain parental responsibility and must continue to do all they can to support regular school attendance.
  • If the child/young person who is subject of the ESO does not comply with the requirements of the order and fails to attend school regularly despite directions from the IO, a referral to social care may be made. If necessary an application will be made to the court to have the order discharged. On discharging the order, the court may direct social care to make an assessment of the home situation.
  • Parents lose their right to move their child to another school for the duration of the ESO without our express permission (as the local authority).

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