Who is a parent?
For the purposes of education law, parents include:
- All biological parents
- Any person who has parental responsibility for a child or young person, even if they're not biologically related (e.g. adoptive parents, step-parents or guardians)
- Any person who has care of a child or young person but is not a biological parent and does not have parental responsibility - usually the person with whom the child lives, even if they do not have legal responsibility (e.g. a foster carer)
This is outlined in Department for Education (DfE) guidance on parental responsibility.
It's possible to lose parental responsibility, for example, if a parent and step-parent divorce. However, it's also possible for the step-parent to keep parental responsibility in that circumstance, so always check whether the official status of the parents has changed.
When parents separate, the resident parent is the parent the child lives with most of the time.