As a separated or divorced parent, it’s not always easy to keep up on what’s happening with your children at school. At the best of times kids don’t communicate much about school with their parents, no matter how good you are at parenting. Asking how school was often elicits something like “Good” as a response, which isn’t especially helpful and getting more information can be like pulling teeth.
As a single dad it’s even harder, since you want to make the most of the time with your kids rather than pestering them for information about school – although, of course, you want to know if there’s a problem there, so you can do something about it.
But even as a single dad you can be more involved if you choose to be, and as a good father, you will certainly want to be. In many ways it becomes a parenting issue, as school is the main component of childhood these days.
The Responsibilities of Schools
If you have Parental Responsibility for your children as defined under the Children Act 1989, you have a Right To Be Kept Informed About Your Child, and this includes taking part in all the decisions regarding their education. That’s not just good parenting, it’s the law.
You have the right as a parent to receive information from the school, including attendance and performance reports on your children, to give permission as the father for trips and other activities, to participate in school activities and to be told about any meetings at school that involve your children.
If your ex hasn’t given information about you to the school, you can contact them directly, after which they have to provide you with information. In the case of school trips, permission has to come from both parents, and if only one gives permission, to stop possible conflicts, the child won’t be allowed to go. The school is also obliged to inform both parents when the child is ill or has medical issues.
How To Be More Involved As a Single Dad
If you’re on good terms with your ex, you could attend school meetings or parent’s evenings in her place, to talk to the teachers and get a good assessment of how your children are doing. You could also attend things like sports day or pick up the kids from school sometimes, which will be a perfect chance to talk to them about what’s been happening while it’s still fresh in their minds.
However, if you and your ex are not on good terms, it becomes a little more difficult. Talking to your kids about school is good when you’re a single dad, but even if they expand their answers, you’re only going to get one side of the story.
Talk to the school and see if you can arrange meetings with the teachers to discuss the progress of your kids. It shows that you’re involved as a parent – as you undoubtedly are. But although fathers have traditionally been less involved in the education of children, leaving it to the wives and partners, a single father has to be more pro-active.
Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.
My sons father refuses to take my son to school
football matches on a Saturday (he now has Saturday school) when he has contact as we have a court order over 5 years old which states he goes to stay at his fathers house which is over 41/2 hours away. Things have changed now his older and so has his school and timings etc.
I don’t see why my son should miss out because his dad doesn’t want to be involved in anything other that what he does at his house.
My son is starting to resent his dad for this but I’m not sure where this leaves me legally.
Lee - 30-Sep-21 @ 9:37 AM
Hi, I am having the same issues as everyone above and believe the school is purposefully leaving me out so my exwife can say in our custody hearing that I am not interested in my sons school life.
I have had to request a meeting and offer to give them postcards to send me so I know to make contact to request an appointment for parents evening.
I should not have to do this. I have a solicitor through legal aid so getting them to send a letter should be OK.
The link you have put above does not work. Can you please repost it and also advise if there is legal action we can take against them. If there is exactly what should I be taking them to court over and do you have any examples of others who have and won against the school.
Jb - 2-Jul-19 @ 8:52 PM
Hi i wonder if someone can help, rite now my ex partner has told both school and nursery that she doesnt want to have parents evening and other school matters togther as parents because she doesnt want to be near me but ive said i wont to be there togther as a mum and dad to show to are kids that we have to get along foe there sake, now can the school stop this feom happening or can i actually demand we have the one sittin instead of having to put are daughters through all this twice!? Has she got the right to do this or does she need to have any legal proceedings from a judge to inforce this?
Mervin - 9-Dec-18 @ 4:18 PM
Hi, I have a court order in place to see and communicate with my children but my ex wife has breached the order and I have to go back to court to enforce the order. In the mean time she has cut all contact with my children I cannot see or contact them. I have always been involved in their education and quite often I would meet them from school and walk them to their mothers car. Recently I went to the school to see my kids to be met by my exes new partner who got aggressive and threatened to rip my jaw off if I didn't leave. The school also received a call off him saying the same. Now they have asked me not to show up at the school to avoid any trouble and I now have no way of maintaining a presence in my children's lives. I don't want them to think I've given up on them and I know the courts will eventually sort this out but I'm close to my children and they're so sensitive. Any advice or knowledge of law?
Brett - 12-Oct-18 @ 8:33 AM
Hi, I'm enquiring on behalf of my boyfriend. He has 3 kids who have all been taken out of school by his ex. The youngest is 5 and this week just been removed by their mum with the reason being she can't get him to school because of the other 2 and he needs nurturing at home. Is there any advice out there I can give him please. I really don't know what to say that will help.
Jane - 28-Sep-18 @ 2:58 PM
My ex who I have a 7 yr old with and PR is refusing to tell me where/when meetings are happening with school. He has recently had a Qb test for ADHD and I have been going to every meeting until now. A very important meeting is coming up to discuss the results and my ex is refusing to tell me when and is saying only she will be going
AG86 - 12-Jan-18 @ 5:15 PM
J - Your Question:
Hi, I am a single dad. My 4 year old son resides with his mother who does not want to share the information about the school. In fact she has been refusing to tell me where his preschool was. After 4 months I managed to get the details and I contact the headteacher with the letter from your website (I attached a birth certificate)I have been refused to be given any information. What can I do?
If you have parental responsibility, the school are obliged to keep you up to date on your child's welfare and progress (unless a court order states otherwise). A solicitor's letter outlining the your PR rights and the obligation of the school to keep to the law may work.
SeparatedDads - 9-Oct-17 @ 12:06 PM
Hi, I am a single dad. My 4 year old son resides with his mother who does not want to share the information about the school. In fact she has been refusing to tell me where his preschool was. After 4 months I managed to get the details and I contact the headteacher with the letter from your website (I attached a birth certificate)
I have been refused to be given any information.
What can I do?
J - 8-Oct-17 @ 2:16 PM
charlie - Your Question:
Hello,I am separated from my partner and have PR for my daughter. Can her school stop me from attending school functions/meet my daughter at school?
The Government's guidance on Parental Responsibility states that both school and local authority staff must treat all parents equally, unless there is a court order limiting an individual's exercise of parental responsibility. You can see the gov.uk information here regarding the stance your daughter's school should take.
SeparatedDads - 20-Jun-17 @ 1:40 PM
I am separated from my partner and have PR for my daughter. Can her school stop me from attending school functions/meet my daughter at school?
charlie - 19-Jun-17 @ 12:31 PM
I think the parent should come but not bring new partner and her kid
Jo - 18-Jan-17 @ 8:09 AM
hi im a seperated father of 2 kids, i was only put on the birth certificate for 1 my kids, ive managed to get the school to send me reports n so on but for my son who im not on the birth certificute the school wont let me i have proof with dna that im father to both should this be enough to get reports? ive got aspergers which causes me trouble and as unemployed i cant take to court, what should i do, im a father crying for help