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 May to July 2016. 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 development 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:
- Recent case law.
- Legislative developments.
- Government consultations.
- Government guidance and policy statements.
Recent case law
Upper Tribunal rules that home-to-school transport is not special educational provision (Staffordshire County Council v JM (Special educational needs: Other))
On 23 May 2016, the Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber) (UT) allowed an appeal by a council against a decision of the First-tier Tribunal (FTT), ordering the council to pay for home to school transport for a 21 year old woman.
The council had appealed the FTT decision arguing that, under section 508F of the Education Act 1996, the provision of transport for young people between the ages of 19 and 25 was discretionary and depended on whether, in the council’s view, it was necessary to do so. The UT set aside the FTT’s decision.
Prohibition order under section 141A of Education Act 2002 not applicable where individual not employed or engaged as a teacher (Zebaida v Secretary of State for Education)
On 19 May 2016, the High Court held that a National College for Teaching and Leadership panel did not have the jurisdiction to make a prohibition order against an individual convicted of a sexual offence under section 141A of Education Act 2002 as he was not employed or engaged as a teacher at the time of the offence or the making of the Order.
A seven day absence from school does not constitute a child failing to attend regularly (Isle of Wight Council v Platt)
On 13 May 2016, the High Court ruled that the decision of a magistrates’ court that there was no case to answer for a father for taking his child out of school for seven days was correct.
The following legislative developments took place between May and July 2016:
- On 20 July 2016, the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 were made. The regulations will come into force on 1 September 2016.
- On 26 May 2016, the Education (Pupil Referral Units) (Application of Enactments) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 were made. The regulations came into force on 27 June 2016, and bring the legal framework relating to Academy conversions of PRUs into line with maintained schools.
- On 6 May 2016, the Department for Education announced a change to its position regarding the forced academisation of all schools as set out in its education White Paper, Educational Excellence Everywhere, published in March 2016.
In England, the following consultations have been published:
- On 21 July 2016, the Department for Education published the government’s response to its January 2016 consultation on identifying children who are missing education. Responses to the consultation were largely in favour of the proposals. Respondents recognised the need to improve communication between local authorities and schools through improved record-keeping and reporting, which will improve local authorities’ ability to ensure children are safe and receiving suitable education.
- On 25 May 2016, Ofqual published a consultation on making specifications regarding reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010. Ofqual as a regulator is given the power to specify where reasonable adjustments to general qualifications should not be made in order to ensure that qualifications give reliable indications of a particular student’s knowledge, skills and understanding. This is done by making “specifications”, which limit when reasonable adjustments will be allowed or when they must be made.
Government guidance and policy statements
On 15 July 2016, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper providing an overview of the rights of parents to receive information about their child’s education, and participate in decisions about their child’s education.
On 1 July 2016, the Education Funding Agency published the 2016 version of its Academies Financial Handbook, which sets out the financial management, control and reporting requirements applicable to academy trusts.
On 7 June 2016, the Local Government Ombudsman published a report on a complaint about admissions arrangements for Khalsa Voluntary Aided Primary School. Places at the school are allocated on the basis of religion with priority given to applicants who can demonstrate commitment to the Sikh faith.
On 26 May 2016, the Department for Education published statutory guidance for schools and colleges on keeping children safe in education.
On 16 May 2016, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper providing an overview of the position relating to parents taking their children on holiday during school term time in England, following the High Court’s decision in Isle of Wight Council v Platt.