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What is Education Law?

What is Education Law?

What is Education Law?

Parents, pupils and students have legal rights when it comes to their education, which is something many people don’t know or simply never think about. However, this fact is essential to understand if you are unhappy with the support being offered to you, your child or yourself as a student. It is also important to be aware of your education legal rights where you are unhappy with the way you have been treated by your school, university, or college.

Making sure educational institutions meet their legal obligations to support the needs of parents, pupils and students, and to treat all fairly is what education law is all about. Understanding your educational legal rights and what you can do to deal with a problem can make a huge difference to a learner’s education and to their future.

Who do IBB’s Education Solicitors act for?

We only act for children, students and their parents. We are committed to enabling every young person to succeed in whatever they are striving to achieve. We spend 100% of our time delivering education legal advice. We are specialists.  As we are specialist education solicitors, we look at problems from a different angle, finding solutions from more than one position.

We do not act for schools, colleges or universities. You can have confidence that we are firmly committed to acting in your best interests.

Every situation is unique, so it is important to get specialist advice tailored to your circumstances and your needs. Having a better understanding of a learners’ rights and how a specialist education lawyer can help when a problem arises, can empower you to challenge a school, college or university when you encounter a problem.

Further and Higher Education

What legal rights do students at universities and colleges have?

Universities are autonomous in law and make their own rules, regulations, procedures, statutes, ordinances and policies. The primary legal relationship between a student and a university is one of public law and contract law. This was established in a case decided by the Court of Appeal.

In addition, universities must have regard to consumer rights legislation, in so far as they must provide educational service with reasonable care and skill.

Student with disabilities are also protected in law. Universities must make reasonable adjustments further to Equity Act 2010.

Schools and Children

What legal rights do parents and pupils have for their education?

Some of the laws covering educational rights are:

The Education Act 1996 – this places an absolute, non-delegable duty on local authorities to provide education to children of compulsory school age.

The Education Act 2002 – this sets out the safeguarding duty of state schools and colleges.  Independent schools and Special schools have separate rules.

The Children and Families Act 2014 – this legislation introduced Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) to help get education, health care and social care services working together more effectively to meet young people’s needs.

The Equality Act 2010 – this statute provides  protection from discrimination on the basis of protected characteristics, such as disability, sex, race and sexual orientation, including transgender issues.

For independent schools, parents’ and pupils’ educational rights will also be defined by the terms of the contracts that parents sign with the schools, when their child enters school.

What sort of educational issues can arise at school, college or university?

There are all sorts of issues parents and pupils can run into with their educational institution. The most common revolve around a school failing to provide sufficient support for a child’s educational needs (especially where a child has an Education, Health and Care Plan), bullying, school admissions, school suspensions, school exclusions and school complaints.

Common education law issues pupils and their parents may have to deal with include:

 Common education law issues at universities and colleges include:

In general, parents and/or pupils and students should think about making a challenge where it seems likely the issues they are facing may have an impact on their educational outcomes, their wellbeing and/or their future prospects, including their chosen career path (particularly where there are fitness to practice issues).

Are their time limits for taking action against schools, colleges for universities?

In respect of disagreements over the terms of a contract with a school, an individual has six years to take legal steps. Where a child or young person suffers some physical or mental harm as a consequence of the actions or inactions of an educational institution, or someone who works there, they have three years from their 18th birthday. However, it is always sensible to take action at the earliest possible date to avoid evidence being lost or memories fading.

Indeed, time is of the essence in the majority of cases against schools, colleges and universities. Discrimination claims, whether race, religion, sex (including transgender) or disability must be made within six months. Where a case against an educational establishment is based on unfairness of dealing with a complaint, the time limit is three months.

There are even shorter time limits for issues arising out of school admissions and school exclusions, for example, where a parent is likely to have a matter of school days to take action.

Furthermore, it is not unusual for there to be several arguments arising from events at a school or university and thus several time periods may apply. Consequently, it is essential that steps are taken promptly to ensure that a child’s legal rights or your legal rights are not lost due to the passage of time.

Consult our expert education law solicitors for advice on school, college or university concerns

What does education legal advice cost?

We offer an initial consultation for a fixed fee to discuss your child’s or your situation and provide clear, practical advice on your options. This fixed fee initial consultation takes place by video conferencing to suit you.

If, following the initial consultation, you would like us to help you further, we will advise you of the likely work required and the associated cost. We recognise the desire to have clear advice about costs and thus we strive to be transparent and clear about what the costs of providing further education legal advice will be.

In some instances we are able to offer fixed fees. In those instances, you can have confidence that the cost will not change for the work we have agreed to carry out.

Please note we  only carry out work on a private fee paying basis. We do not offer legal aid. If you are not able to fund your inquiry privately, we recommend you contact Citizens Advice.

How do I get advice from an education solicitor?

To book your initial consultation or to find out more about how we can help with concerns, whether school, college or university, please contact Rachael, our Senior Legal Administrator on educationteam@ibblaw.co.uk or 01895 207230. She will be able to advise you if we are likely to be able to help.  If we are able to assist we will send you an online link so you can book an appointment that is convenient to you.