Changing a pupil's name on education records

For a number of reasons parents may request schools to change the name(s) of their child(ren) on the school register. These requests will often be well thought through and in some circumstances based upon genuine concerns.

However, changing a child’s name should not be done lightly and must be in accordance with law. The name of a child is an important part of the child’s identity, and the long-term best interests of the child should not be overlooked.

Who can change a child’s surname?

Those people who have parental responsibility for a child, must all agree or consent to the change.

In cases where a parent of a child is seeking to register the child on education records under a different name from that on the child’s birth certificate, they will be asked to produce the relevant consent or documentation.

Who has parental responsibility?

If both parents are married to each other then they both have parental responsibility and can change the name if they both agree.

If parents are divorced, both parents still have parental responsibility and must consent to the change.

If the child’s birth was registered after 1 December 2003 and the parents have never been married and both parents are shown on the birth entry then both parents have parental responsibility and must give their consent to the change

If the child’s birth was registered before 1 December 2003 and the parents have never been married and if there is no parental responsibility order or agreement in place then the mother has sole parental responsibility and may change the child’s name. However, in accordance with case law it is good practice that the father who does not have parental responsibility should be contacted to seek consent. This is particularly important if the father has contact with the child and is part of the child’s life.

It may sometimes be that a parent is no longer in the child’s life however this does not extinguish parental responsibility.

Adoption extinguishes the child’s birth parents’ parental responsibility and transfers all their parental responsibility to the adoptive parents.

Where a second female parent has acquired parental responsibility by virtue of S.43 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, then both parents must consent to the change.

What happens if there is a dispute?

In the event of disagreement or in the absence of consent, the matter should be referred to the courts for determination. Therefore, in the case of a person with sole parental responsibility evidence should be sought that the father consents to the change. Where there is no such evidence, the name should remain unchanged and the parent should be advised to seek independent legal advice.

Required documentation

For births registered before 1 December 2003

We need written consent from both parents regarding the change if the parents were:

  • married at the time of the birth
  • married later
  • entered into a parental responsibility agreement

If this is not the case then we require written confirmation from the mother stating that:

  • she has never been married to the father
  • they have never entered into a Parental Responsibility Agreement

For births registered after 1 December 2003

We need written consent from both parents regarding the change if:

  • the father is named on the birth certificate
  • the parents married later
  • the parents entered into a Parental Responsibility Agreement

If this is not the case then we require written confirmation from the mother stating that:

  • she has never been married to the father
  • they have never entered into a Parental Responsibility Agreement

In addition, we need proof that the father is not named on the birth certificate, for example, a long birth certificate.

How to request a change of name on education records

To apply a consistent response within Bracknell Forest, and to remove some of the pressure that school staff can be put under, a change of name will not be administered in school. This same advice applies to ‘known as’ names held on school systems.

If parents wish to request a change then they should send a copy of the Deed Poll, the child’s long birth certificate and all necessary consent letters to: 

School Admissions Team
Bracknell Forest Council
Time Square
Bracknell
RG12 1JD

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