Revised guidance on home education has been issued in a bid to clarify the rights and responsibilities of both parents and local authorities in what has tended to be an area fraught with tension.
The most significant procedural change in the guidance, issued yesterday by the Scottish Government, is a recommendation that local authorities should aim to issue a decision within six weeks of receiving a parent's application for consent to withdraw a child from school.
It is anticipated that some authorities may have difficulty meeting such a constraint, but the intention is to speed up the process and improve communication between councils and parents.
Alison Preuss, convener of Schoolhouse Home Education Association, said that in its submission to the consultation, it had hoped to see the abolition of the requirement for councils to give consent to the withdrawal of pupils. However, this would require primary legislation to replace the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 and home education groups were not expecting this to happen. The lobby is likely to see the introduction of a six-week requirement as a reasonable compromise.
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said the aim of the new guidance was for authorities and home-educating parents to develop "trust and mutual respect".
The guidance has been updated to reflect the Additional Support for Learning Act and includes reference to the principles of A Curriculum for Excellence.