This page explains the law on barring a parent from entering the premises of a school including how a parent can make representations about this and the consequences of breaching a bar.
A school has the power to ban parents from school premises under certain circumstances. The Department for Education has issued non-statutory advice on this matter.
Who can access school premises?
Schools are private places even though they serve a public function. Parents of pupils who are on the school roll have an implied license to enter school premises. This means parents of enrolled pupils can have access to school premises at certain stated times, for example, a playground at the beginning and end of the school day. The school can set out the conditions and terms of this licence.
This implied license may extend to additional facilities secured by the schools for recreation, physical and social training.
Under section 576 of the Education Act 1976 “parent” includes a child’s natural parents, anyone with parental responsibility for the child or anyone who is caring for a child. The public has no automatic right of entry onto school premises.
When can parents be barred?
It is for schools to define the extent of access to the school premises. If a parent exceeds this it could be considered trespass. Trespass is a civil offence and schools can take court action if an individual repeatedly trespasses onto school premises.
The school has the power to withdraw the license if a parent is using abusive or insulting language that presents a risk to staff or pupils. It is enough for staff to feel threatened by this behaviour.
What should happen before a parent is barred?
The headteacher of the school or the local authority should write a letter to the parent stating that they are barring the parent from the premises. It is good practice to implement a provisional bar to allow parents time to respond or find representation. Parents should be given a reasonable opportunity to make representations.
Alternatively the school can serve a notice of intent giving the parent a reasonable time to respond.
If you have been informed that a bar will be put in place and require representation then you should contact a solicitor specialising in civil law (tort). You can find solicitors on the Law Society website.
How can the bar be removed?
Any bar should be subject to review within a reasonable time scale. You should make written representations to the school or local authority if you feel the bar is no longer necessary. It is important to demonstrate why the reasons why it was first put in place no longer apply.
The Department for Education cannot review individual cases because it is not covered within its remit.
Can there be criminal consequences to breaching a barring order?
Under section 547 Education Act 1996 it is a criminal offence for a person who is on school premises without lawful authority to cause or permit a nuisance or disturbance.
Therefore, if a parent has been barred and still went on to the school premises and either caused or permitted a nuisance or disturbance to occur then they may be guilty of a criminal offence. The police would have power to remove the parent from the school in this situation.
Similarly, if a parent exceeded the terms of the licence to be on school premises, for example, went to the school at a time clearly not mandated by the school policy and either caused or permitted a nuisance or disturbance to occur then they may be guilty of a criminal offence.