This is the latest in our series of quarterly education update blogs which will enable readers to catch up on the most important cases, issues or developments in education law from July to September 2017. Please feel free to submit a comment below or send us an Ask query if you have any views on the cases, issues, or legal developments that are covered or if you think we have missed something that should be brought to the attention of education law practitioners.
In this post, we look at:
- Legislative developments.
- Case law.
- Government guidance and policy statements.
- House of Commons Library briefing papers.
- The Childcare Act 2016 (Commencement No 2) Regulations 2017 have been made. On 1 September 2017 the regulations brought into force the duty on the Secretary of State for Education to secure that 30 hours of free childcare is available for qualifying children of working parents.
High Court allows injunction preventing publication of information concerning school safeguarding issues to continue (London Borough of Croydon v Dodsworth and others)
On 8 September 2017, the High Court gave its reasons for allowing the continuation of an injunction preventing the publication of information concerning safeguarding issues at a London school.
The London Borough of Croydon had applied for, and been granted, a without notice injunction in August 2017 preventing a former headmistress of a school in its area and an educational advocate from publishing confidential information about children and staff at the school relating to their concerns about treatment of children at the school.
This decision is likely to be of interest to other schools dealing with similar concerns where such information has come from current or ex-staff members. It is also interesting to note that the High Court acknowledged that there was a public interest in ensuring that the school was properly run but that it was only those who were entitled to do so, who should be disclosing information regarding the treatment of children at the school (that is, parents of children at the school).
GOVERNMENT GUIDANCE AND POLICY STATEMENTS
On 20 September 2017, the Department of Health published non-statutory guidance for schools on the use of emergency adrenaline auto-injector devices (AAIs). From 1 October 2017, schools in England have now been allowed to purchase AAIs without a prescription under the Human Medicines (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/715), for emergency use on children who are at risk of anaphylaxis but whose own device is not available or not working.
On 14 September 2017, the Department for Education (DfE) published the final National Funding Formula for schools (NFF) for 2018-19 and 2019-20. The publication of the final NFF follows two major consultations, and the Secretary of State for Education’s announcement in July 2017 of an additional £1.3 billion for the front line schools budget.
On 11 September 2017, the Welsh Government (WG) announced the publication of a new school guide aimed at parents with adopted children in Wales. The guide is funded by the WG and published by Adoption UK, and sets out things parents of adopted children should look for when choosing a school, how to work with staff at the school, and gives advice on how attachment issues can have an impact on a child’s progress through the education system.
On 8 September 2017, Contact, a children’s disability charity, published a report on school transport for disabled children in England. The report made a number of findings, including that over half of local school transport policies in England include unlawful statements or other restrictive criteria, 48% of parents with disabled children reported that inadequate transport arrangements made it harder for them to work, and 23% of parents reported that their child’s journey to school caused stress that made learning more difficult.
On 8 September 2017, the Government Equalities Office announced the launch of an initiative funding projects in primary and secondary schools intended to educate pupils and prevent bullying on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity (that is, to prevent homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying).
On 4 September 2017, the DfE issued directions to the London Borough of Croydon Council (council) in respect of its children’s social care functions and appointed a Children’s Services Commissioner (commissioner) to review and oversee its compliance with these. In July 2017, an Ofsted report found that the council’s children’s social care services were “inadequate”. This satisfied the DfE that it was necessary to exercise its powers to secure proper performance of the council’s functions, pursuant to section 497A of the Education Act 1996. It has, accordingly, issued directions to the council to ensure that its children’s social care functions are performed to an adequate standard.
On 4 July 2017, the DfE published updated guidance with advice for schools on preventing and tackling bullying. The guidance applies to school leaders and school staff in all maintained schools and academies in England.
On 30 June 2017, the WG published a consultation on revisions to the School Organisation Code (Code). The Code, which underpins the provisions introduced by the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013, has applied to all Welsh statutory school organisation proposals since 1 October 2013. The consultation closed on 30 September 2017.
HOUSE OF COMMONS LIBRARY BRIEFING PAPERS
The House of Commons Library has published the following briefing papers, which may be of interest to education practitioners:
- Gypsies and Travellers.
- Counter-extremism policy in English schools.
- Recent policy developments: Grammar schools in England.
- Safeguarding in English schools.