Having a contract in writing: why you need one and why it's a good investment

Many business deals are concluded by “Gentleman’s Agreements”. These can work for people and businesses - until there is an issue or uncertainty. Unfortunately, deals and relationships in business can, and do, go wrong for many reasons....

Brexit and the education sector

As of January 2019, there were nearly 147,000 EU students studying a higher education qualification in the UK, contributing £5.1 billion to the UK economy and supporting 20,000 jobs. Research has revealed that 57% of Britain’s schools, colleges...

Serious incident reporting

All charities with an income over £25,000 must report serious incidents to the Charity Commission. Such a threshold is likely to contain all charitable independent schools.  A serious incident is defined by the Charity Commission as any adverse...

Freedom of information requests

A number of educational institutions that we act for have received freedom of information requests. If a response to the request must be given, the information provided by the educational institution will be published and anyone can gain access to that...

Personal injury and discrimination in education

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (“NASUWT”) has released the latest figures in respect of compensation payments for teachers. NASUWT experienced a significant increase in cases and last year, a staggering...

Keeping Children Safe in Education

The Keeping Children Safe in Education statutory guidance has been updated and came into force on 3 September 2018. The guidance is applicable to both schools and colleges. One particular point to note is that these changes will require schools and...

Enhance duty of care and practicability

The recent case of Pook –v- Rossal is interesting, as it required the High Court to consider a school’s duty of care to its pupils.    A pupil ran from the school’s changing rooms to the school field for a physical education...

Managing Your School's Finance

The ESFA is placing an ever increasing burden on Trustees to ensure they have sufficient financial controls and systems in place to ensure appropriate safeguarding and management of their School budget and resources.  The management of public...

Scrutiny of those working with children

  The Childcare Act 2006 and the subsequent Childcare (Disqualification) Regulations 2009, bar people with certain convictions, mainly relating to sexual offences, from working with pupils in education institution.   The legislation also...

The rules say it must be on the curriculum

Following a Freedom of Information request by the Religious Education Council and the National Association of Teachers of RE (NATRE), a survey has been published which reveals that there is a lack of religious education teaching in schools. The statistics...

New statistics

The Department for Education and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) have published statistics about learner participation, outcomes and highest qualifications held in further education and skills. The statistics indicate that: Government funded...

The dynamics of teacher redeployment

Research published in June relating to staff redeployment across multi-academy trusts (MATs), is certainly worth a read. The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) found in its research that staff movement between schools in the same MAT is...

Holidays in term time

The media has covered - at some length - cases of parents who take their children out of school during term time and are subsequently prosecuted for doing so.  But is there any certainty for schools in knowing how the law applies? The outcome in the...

Legislation update - school governance

Two sets of regulations were made in 2012 to deal with the issue of governance in maintained schools in England; both of these have now been updated.  Thomas Emmett explains how these are likely to affect your school.  The School Governance...

Transgender and non-binary pupils

It has been reported that some schools have failed to recognise the chosen name of transgender and non-binary pupils, have enforced gendered uniform rules and have not used the pupil’s preferred pronoun.  Under the Equality Act 2010 schools have...

What does the future hold for pupil numbers?

In July, the Department for Education released statistics projecting the number of pupils in schools, measured by type of school and age group: the results make interesting reading. For state funded primary schools and nurseries, it was reported that the...

Dealing with property in an academy conversion

The property aspects of an academy conversion can be more complicated than you may expect.  There are a number of reasons for this. No matter whether the property occupied by the school is freehold/leasehold, or registered/ unregistered, there needs to...

Converting to an academy

Once you have made the decision to start along the conversion process, there are certain stages you must complete.   Getting permission to convert to academy status There are a number of consents that you will need to acquire before you start the...

Academies...where to begin?

The decision of whether to convert to an academy remains a hot topic at governors’ meetings. Here at Birkett Long, we are certainly seeing a lot of clients who want to convert. A further consideration in the decision making process is the fact that...

Help is at hand

Our Team  We have a dedicated team of experts who are fully equipped to deal with your academy conversion, each specialising in a certain part of the conversion process: Thomas Emmett  specialises in the company and contractual elements of...

Changes to school funding

On 21 July 2016, the government announced the pending changes that would soon be implemented regarding school funding and that it would no longer be based upon historical records. The process will proceed over stages, the first of which focuses on...

Data protection in schools

Given the sensitivity of the information that schools and other education institutions hold about pupils and staff, the issue of personal information can be particularly tricky. Who would have thought ten years ago that we would be considering how...

Update - coasting schools

Our last newsletter discussed the conversion of “coasting schools” into academies.  We can now update this with a definition of what “coasting” means.  Schools will be eligible for intervention if they fall below the...

Did you get legal advice on your buildings contracts?

The last few weeks of the school summer holidays would have been a busy time for schools as construction works are finalised before the new school year starts.  Building work within the education sector has continued thanks to the Priority...

Ofsted - news rules for schools

At a conference to headteachers, early years professionals and college principals back in June, Sir Michael Wilshaw announced that as of September 2015, a new inspection framework for Ofsted inspectors would take effect.  It is called the Common...

St Cedd's School welcomes Alumni throughout the years

St Cedd’s School opened their doors last Saturday for the first ever alumni event, welcoming former staff members and ex-pupils with the opportunity to see the growth of the school over the past 84 years. The occasion celebrated the high standards of...

Maximum award ordered by tribunal via employer unaware of its legal obligations

When an employer proposes to make 20 or more employees redundant within a period of 90 days, it must fulfil its consultation obligations under S.188 of The Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TULRCA). The aim of consultation is to...

Skills audits

For anyone involved in a school governing body, reviews of it and its future should be undertaken regularly.  The Department for Education has released guidance for governing bodies regarding their constitution, including what needs to be considered...

Allegations of misconduct

Allegations made against a member of staff in a school, college or university can be very damaging to everyone involved.  These are not easy situations to deal with, but particularly so if the individual seems to have deliberately not told you about...

"Coasting" schools and academies

The education and adoption bill has been published, with Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, saying that it will “sweep away bureaucratic and legal loopholes” that previously prevented schools from being improved.  The main provisions of...

The cost of staff on strike

How do you calculate how much pay should be withheld from staff who go on strike?  Three teachers, who had been on strike for a day, claimed that the college that they worked for had withheld more pay than it was entitled to in respect of that day. The...

The do's and don'ts of Ofsted inspections

Various myths surround Ofsted inspections and what the inspectors want to see.  As a result, Ofsted has recently provided some clarification due to the concern that these myths are resulting in unnecessary workloads in schools. For example: ...

Newsflash - SEN and the risks of judicial review

Changes to the SEN framework came into force on 1 September this year under the Children and Families Act 2014. There have been reports, however, that due to short timescales and guidance on the new system being produced late in the day, some...

Schools need to act as businesses - legal expert

Schools in Essex and the outlying areas need to start acting more like businesses in a bid to raise extra cash in preparation for a forecasted government funding squeeze, says an expert from Essex law firm Birkett Long. Emily Brown, a lawyer with the...

School's out for summer

You’re browsing through a holiday brochure, deciding where to go for that hard-earned break.  The kids will have finished their exams for the year, and it would be good to spend some time together.  Where could you take them for that...

Joining an existing academy group

Now that many schools have already converted, an alternative to setting up a new academy partnership is to join an existing, established group. It is not surprising that schools are looking at this option seriously, especially when you know you will be...

Performance related pay

Few would argue that education today is all about quality of teaching and raising of standards.  But how to achieve them is more contentious, particularly when the thorny issue of performance related pay (“PRP”), introduced by the Government...

Primary schools time to convert?

As primary schools tend to be smaller than their secondary equivalents, it has not been easy for many to see what the benefit would be of leaving their local authority to ‘go it alone’ as an academy before now. Sharing resources and knowledge,...

Key property provisions of an academy conversion

The property aspects of an academy conversion can be more complicated than you may expect.  There are a number of reasons for this.  No matter whether the property occupied by the school is freehold /leasehold or registered/unregistered there needs...

The difficulties of a 'duty of care'

2013 has now ended but not, I notice, before one particular claimant win in the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal. Schools are not easy businesses to run, involving as they do the precious commodity of our children, to whom those running a...

Recovering what's due

Although no school will wish to resort to legal action to recover unpaid school fees, the reality is that at some point it is likely that assistance will be needed to recover such debts.  In an increasingly commercial environment, schools simply cannot...

Educational businesses - get to grips with immigration law

Through our professional adviser network we have access to UK immigration law specialists, and via our network of foreign lawyers we are able to provide immigration advice to our clients worldwide.  This article has been written by Sally Azarmi of...

Schools and the social divide

Commentators and academics suggest that academy schools create greater segregation between pupils from rich and poor homes.  Academies are schools which used to be run by the local authority and become independent schools, but are still funded by the...

Reception class size

A mother has lost her appeal regarding the decision to refuse her son a place in a primary school’s reception class. The primary school’s policy was to admit 45 children split between two reception classes, with the same children then being...

Employment tribunals and the education sector

As I peruse the plentiful supply of decided employment cases emanating from the employment tribunal system, it seems to me that more and more involve educational establishments of one kind or another.  That may be because such establishments are...

Freedom of information and course material

Many universities, colleges and schools will by now have received at least one Freedom of Information Act 2000 request, but it is never easy to know whether you are obliged to provide the information being asked for. The 2000 Act gave individuals and...

Education updates from the summer holidays

Pay and conditions On 1 September 2013 the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Order 2013 came into force.  Teachers’ pay is no longer subject to automatic annual increments but instead will be linked to performance.  The first...

Are children in your school the least of your worries?

Head-teachers, governing bodies and local authorities may sometimes feel that the children in their school are the least of their worries, as they grapple with the demands of a complicated business, often employing dozens of staff in a variety of roles and...

Updates on education law

DBS application forms Don’t forget that from 28 March 2013 the Home Office began to accept only DBS application forms; applications made using the old CRB forms will be rejected and returned.  The Home Office had previously stated that the ...

Small claims - the costs issue

On 1 April 2013 there was a change to the threshold for claims in the small claims track.  Until this date a small claim was deemed to be one where the value of the claim was £5,000 or less; from 1 April this has increased to £10,000. The...

Teachers in a tougher system

We all know that our children respond and learn better when they have the best teachers leading the way, but we also know the damage that can be done to a child’s progress and enthusiasm when their teachers are not performing.  The Government has...

All CHANGE for Notley and Clacton primary schools

Two Essex schools have joined forces to become a partnership, giving them more autonomy and helping to improve standards for the future. Notley Green Primary School in Braintree and Cann Hall Primary School in Clacton will now operate collectively under the...

School and PTA events

Changes expected on 1 October under the Live Music Act 2012 will mean schools and PTAs may find it easier to put on events involving live music without always needing the licences that must normally be in place. It has been a real concern that schools must...

Disciplinary procedures for staff

Have you lost trust or confidence in a member of your staff?  If so, think carefully before you dismiss them! The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) has confirmed that it is not enough for there just to be a breakdown in trust and confidence making...

Changes to vetting and barring, and CRB checks

The vetting and barring scheme and CRB checks are being scaled back to “common sense levels”.  This follows the Government’s plan to reduce the burden on schools, colleges and universities whilst still ensuring a high standard of...

Teacher loses £5m claim after accident on school trip

Whilst on an activities week with secondary school pupils, Mr Blair-Ford, a teacher in Kent, and his colleagues took part in a “mini Olympics” on the final evening. One of the games involved the students and teachers throwing wellington boots as...

Snow days

If staff cannot make it to work because they need to look after their children when schools are closed because of snow days, it can have a knock on effect on the running of your own school, college or university. There is no obligation to pay those members...

New statutory guidance on school exclusions

Following new legislation in the Education Act 2011, a different procedure for school exclusions exists from 1 September 2012. New guidance for this legislation explains how all Independent Appeal Panels will be replaced by Independent Review Panels. ...

Staffing Regulations

A new Regulation 8A in the School Staffing (England) Regulations 2009 is now in force. From 10 July 2012 the governing body of a maintained school is to: - confirm whether teaching staff at that school have been the subject of capability procedures within...

Education solicitor will help Colchester school through academy transition

An education and employment law specialist at Birkett Long has taken on a new challenge by becoming a governor at Colchester County High School for Girls. Emily Brown, who runs the education department at the law firm in Crouch Street, will use her...

Tribunal time limits

Employment Tribunal rules state that claims for unfair dismissal must be brought within three months of the effective date of the employee’s termination date; for example, if an employee was dismissed on 10 February 2012 the claim must have arrived at...

Don't get caned by school fees!

If you are one of the many parents who is a governor at their child's school, or has a child at an independent school, you may be aware that independent schools have started to recognise that the traditional system of making payments for school fees once...

Technology leaves thieves asking "What's the point?"

It may be impossible to make goods 'unstealable' but the next best thing is to make it pointless for thieves to steal them in the first place.  With the help of new technology, many manufacturers are beginning to do just that. New cars provide...

Statute Update - Agency Workers Regulations 2010

Last October, new legislation came into effect that will give agency workers, such as supply teachers, the right to equal treatment. Some rights accrue automatically, for example information about job vacancies, whilst other rights will only accrue after a...

What Do You Pay for Work After the Contract Ends?

It is very common, especially with building contracts, for work to be needed to be done by contractors after the expiry of the original contract. A case came to court in which a company that had obtained work under tender for Brunel University continued...

To friend, or not to friend

There has been a lot of focus in recent years on the development of bullying on new platforms – Facebook, emails and the like, are all being used to get to pupils.  Whether it means the bullying is more anonymous, spiteful or intrusive, students...

A word of warning - education providers

Birkett Long LLP would like to issue a word of warning to all education providers who currently hold a Sponsor Licence in order to offer courses to foreign national students.  If, as a licenced sponsor, your licence is downgraded, revoked or...

Spot fines for truancy on the increase

It is becoming more common for the cost of missing a day of school to be paid, not only by the child who clearly has to catch up on missed work or risk being left behind, but by their parents who can face a spot fine of £50 rising to £100 if...

Academies and the school site

An ever increasing number of schools are questioning whether or not to convert to academy status, if they have not converted already.  Academy status is obtained by creating a charitable company, known as the Academy Trust (AT).  This appoints the...

Are you a charitable enough charity?

In order to be considered a charity any organisation must demonstrate “Public Benefit”. The Charity Commission had produced significant amounts of guidance on what constitutes Public Benefit, this was before a Judicial Review of their guidance. ...

Legal expertise helps Hilltop Junior School re-open as an Academy in quick turnaround

Essex law firm, Birkett Long, has helped Hilltop Junior School in Wickford convert to academy status - in around half the time that it should take - ready to start the new autumn term as an independent school with greater freedom and control. Academies are...

DfE Announcement: All schools may now apply to become Academies

The Department for Education has announced that from today all schools may apply to become stand-alone academies.   Up to now, only schools which Ofsted had deemed Outstanding or Good with Outstanding Features had been allowed to apply...

Do you employ students?

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has proposed a change to the way the national minimum wage is calculated for students who are employed by higher and further education institutions when those students are studying with the institution...

Maintenance requirement for students

Education providers will no doubt have noticed that a number of their foreign national students for whom they have issued Certificates of Acceptance of Studies, and who then go on to apply for entry clearance or further leave to remain, have been refused on...

Proposals to reform the student visa system

Education providers with a Sponsor Licence who offer courses to foreign national students will be aware of the proposals of the Government to reform the student visa system. This is in order to reduce net migration and ensure students leave the United...