Coodes’ family solicitor Lucy Theobald looks at what ‘parental responsibility’ means for schools

Fri 18th Oct 2013

Parental responsibility and schools factsheet

The issue of parental responsibility (PR) can cause concern for teachers especially when children are being collected from school. This guide will help schools and teachers to understand their responsibilities in this area.

Who has parental responsibility?

  • All mothers automatically
  • fathers who are or have been married to the child’s mother
  • fathers who are not married to the child’s mother but are named on the child’s birth certificate, if the child was born after 01/12/03.
  • any other person who holds a Residence or Special Guardianship Order
  • any other person to whom the mother has devolved or granted PR
  • the Local Authority (LA) under a Care Order.

Effect of parental responsibility

  • Gives the holder all the ‘parental rights and obligations’ over the child
  • where more than one person has PR they hold it equally and can both independently make decisions about a child although they have a ‘duty’ to consult with any other person holding PR.
  • if there is a Special Guardian or the LA hold PR then their PR is overriding.


  • If the PR holders cannot agree i.e. as to who should collect a child after school:
    • it is a civil matter and unless there are obvious child protection/safety issues the police will not want to be involved.
    • the only duty on the school is to let the other person with PR know what is happening and to ensure the child’s safety in school hours.
    • can the school refuse to allow a child to be removed early? Arguably only where the child’s safety requires it.
  • Practically, if a parent who does not normally collect the child or who may not be known to the school arrives mid afternoon to collect the child what should you do?
  • Identification of the person
    • do they have PR or authority to remove?
    • do not allow the child to leave until the known PR holder has been contacted
    • if unavailable or any concern contact duty social worker/police
    • if the visitor is aggressive/abusive etc contact Police
    • advise both parties to seek legal advice
  • Requests for Information:
    • any person with PR is entitled to copy reports, invitations to parents events etc but again ID and PR need to be evidenced.

Lucy is an accredited member of Resolution in domestic violence and private children matters. She is also a member of the Cornwall Law Society.

If you have any concerns about how these issues affect you please contact Lucy on To see more information on family law services provided by Coodes click here.

Fri 18th Oct 2013

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