Education Law

Practice Summary

Education is often the most important state service in the life of vulnerable children and young people. Doughty Street Chambers has practitioners at all levels of call who provide advice and advocacy on a wide range of educational issues. Our clients include pupils, students and parents, charities and other NGOs, schools, colleges, local authorities and other public bodies. The team provides practical hands-on assistance to all those struggling with the complexities of education law. The team has particular expertise in relation to:

 

  • Special educational needs. Members regularly appear in the First Tier Tribunal, Upper Tribunal and the higher courts arguing important points of law in this complex area. Three members of the team appeared in the Supreme Court in A v Essex [2010] UKSC 33, which is now the leading case on the human right to education in relation to disabled children.
  • Duties owed by local authorities to children out of education, with members of the team acting in the most important recent cases in this area. As an example, Ian Wise QC recently established that Croydon’s failure to provide suitable education to two unaccompanied asylum-seeking children was unlawful; R (KS) v Croydon LBC [2010] EWHC 3391 (Admin).
  • School admissions and exclusions issues. Notable cases include Haringey IAP v M [2010] EWCA Civ 1103, where the Court of Appeal considered the requirements of the statutory School Admissions Codes. Members of the team are particularly adept in handling complex cross-over issues in school exclusions cases, for instance with special educational needs issues or parallel criminal proceedings.
  • Education negligence issues, with Nick Bowen QC having acted in most of the leading cases in this complex field.
  • Post-16 education, including the complex web of duties owed to disabled young people in transition to adulthood.

 

Team members also have detailed expertise in relation to a number of important cross-over issues. For example, members of the team include expert discrimination lawyers who are well-placed to deal with education discrimination issues in relation to any of the characteristics protected under the Equality Act 2010. Further, the team includes leading public lawyers who routinely act in leading cases in relation to Part III of the Children Act 1989, including the authors of Children in Need: Local Authority Support for Children and Families (Legal Action Group, April 2011). Another important area of cross-over is with immigration, as members of the team act for students and colleges in challenges to decision under Tier 4 of the points-based system, again with a particular focus on human rights and discrimination issues. Members of the team also act for staff in employment and wider cases involving schools, for example the high-profile case of R (G) v Governors of X School [2011] UKSC 30, where the Supreme Court determined the extent to which internal school procedures engage Article 6 ECHR.

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