REUTERS | David Bebber

Witness statements: schools’ hotline FAQs

Practical Law Public Sector addresses the questions that schools may ask local authorities regarding day-to-day school management and sets out the legal issues to consider when responding:

This FAQ examines whether a headteacher should give a witness statement in custody proceedings. For details of all our school hotline queries, please see Practice note, Schools hotline FAQs.

Q: Jack’s parents have separated and he lives with his mother. His parents are currently disputing custody. Yesterday Jack fell over at school and hurt himself. His mother was held up at work and did not arrive to collect him until some hours after the accident. Jack’s father wants the headteacher to give an account of this event so he can use it in the custody proceedings. Should she make a statement?

A: Unless the headteacher is served with a witness summons, this is purely a matter for the school or the headteacher concerned. The best advice is probably to refuse to become involved in such disputes. However, if the headteacher wishes to make a statement it should be factual and not contain any opinion as to the parental dispute. If she gives a statement, she may be called to court to answer questions about it.

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