Amy Rowe and Sacha Lee explain Parental Responsibility and school clubs, school trips or extracurricular activities

Amy Rowe and Sacha Lee explain Parental Responsibility and school clubs, school trips or extracurricular activities

Back to school season is upon us and, for many children, this means a return to their usual term-time activities and perhaps starting some new ones.

For parents, it can be stressful trying to juggle these often-hectic timetables. For parents who live apart, there may be the additional challenge of trying to agree which school clubs, school trips or extracurricular activities their child should attend and, where disagreement arises, parents are often left wondering whether they require the consent of the other parent(s) to enroll their child in such activities.

This decision-making falls under the umbrella of ‘Parental Responsibility’. Defined at section 3(1) of the Children Act 1989, Parental Responsibility ‘means all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property’.

Put more simply, Parental Responsibility refers to decisions including, but not limited to, those about the health, welfare, schooling, education, naming and religious upbringing of a child which parents have a duty to consult, share and inform each other about.

In respect of extra-curricular activities (e.g. swimming, dance lessons, learning a musical instrument etc.), as a general rule of thumb, your child’s time with you when your child is living with you is for you to organise (and the same applies for the other parent(s) when your child is living with them). However, there is still a duty for parents to inform each other about the activities that their child will attend while in their care and it is always desirable to reach prior agreement. If an activity that you wish for your child to attend will take place during the time when your child is living with the other parent(s), then it is necessary to seek the prior agreement of the other parent(s) to that activity (and vice versa if they wish for your child to attend an activity during the time that your child lives with you). 

In respect of school clubs and school trips, usually schools will require the prior consent of all individuals who hold Parental Responsibility. It is important to note that in terms of school trips abroad, unless there is a court order that stipulates otherwise, it is a legal requirement for all holders of Parental Responsibility to give their consent before a child is removed from the jurisdiction.

Issues sometimes arise where children attend private school and only one parent is meeting the school fees and deemed to be the contracting parent – the school may consider that it is unable to liaise with the other parent without the consent of the contracting parent.  This issue can also arise with international families when the school is unsure whether the non-contracting parent holds Parental Responsibility for the child. Steps can be taken to resolve this issue such as writing to the school or, if necessary, applying to court for appropriate orders.

If you are struggling to reach agreement in respect of school clubs, school trips or extracurricular activities, or if you have any questions or concerns relating to the issues touched upon above, please do not hesitate to contact us on +44 (0)20 7242 2556 or at

The team at Dawson Cornwell are specialists in assisting parents with these issues from a specialist children law perspective as well from a financial perspective. We work seamlessly to provide cost-effective and comprehensive solutions and we always focus on reaching an amicable agreement wherever possible. We also provide specialist services in mediation y collaborative law, two important forms of Métodos alternativos de
resolución de conflictos

Amy Rowe

Sacha Lee


Please note that this blog is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content of this blog.

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