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Every day’s a school day… navigating education law

Sponsored feature | By Mike Hayward, head of Woodfines’ regulatory and dispute resolution team

Woodfines advises on education law
Woodfines advises on education law

One of the most emotive areas of law the regulatory team undertake is in relation to those impacting on children, parents and guardians under education law.

These are cases for instance, where parents/guardians are summonsed to appear at court for failing to ensure their child’s attendance at school, or where the level of support being required for a pupil who has special educational needs is not being adhered to. We also support parents and their children who do not receive the school placement of their choice. It is difficult enough for any adult dealing with regulatory bodies in their own right, but when they are seeking to obtain the best possible outcome for their child it does add an understandably anxious element.

While fully appreciating that any child must receive an education, there can be exceptional circumstances where a child simply does not attend school and could not attend. These may be for medical reasons or due to other features in their life that means they would benefit from home schooling. The message is, however, for parents to ensure that alternative methods of education are in place, and it is for them to be able to evidence that to ensure that local authorities can see that the child is not only benefitting from an education, but also the personal development and support that is crucial for any child’s personal development and upbringing.

If you receive any communication from a school and/or local education authority expressing concern of your child’s attendance or the level of education they are being given through home schooling, then you must ensure that you engage fully with the authorities to ensure that the reasons for the non-attendance of your child at school is explained, understood, and agreed.

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We have dealt with parents facing criminal court summonses in magistrates’ proceedings for failing to send their child to school, and to face a potential fine and personal conviction can be devastating for any person given the impact that that has on their repute. Early intervention is key to ensure that negotiations can be had with the local authority and the correct level of education put in place for a child as soon as that is possible.

Parents anxiously await school placement choices on a yearly basis, especially when going from primary to secondary schooling. In those cases, there are substantial rules in relation to the geographical location and for instance, whether a sibling goes to a particular school. There are appeal processes available for the parent or guardian to challenge the decision of the local authority’s placement and these do receive very careful consideration by the appeal panel. Our regulatory team have assisted children to achieve their school placement of choice through the preparation of carefully written evidence and verbal submissions.

Mike Hayward, of Woodfines
Mike Hayward, of Woodfines

Some children have special educational needs, but the school they are placed with may not quite have the level of support and resources available to provide them with the specific support needed. There is a route available to seek a review of school placements and resources to challenge the availability of funding. That again must be carefully evidenced, and the submissions approached in a balanced way, having regard to the practicalities of the school environment.

Should you require any guidance and support in navigating through these or any other educational-related issues, then please contact one of the lawyers within our regulatory team on 0344 967 2505.

For more, visit woodfines.co.uk.

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