The law is a wide ranging subject that covers a huge amount; as a result it is impossible for lawyers to be highly knowledgeable about every area and subsection of the law. The majority of lawyers, therefore, choose to specialise in a particular area of the law. One area of the law is 'education law'. For the most part this covers any aspect of the law relating to education and schools. As Education law is constantly changing it can be very useful to employ the services of an education solicitor in order to make sure that the school is following legal procedures. Using the services of an education solicitor can also be helpful for parents as well as for the schools themselves. Education solicitors can help with a number of problems and can provide advice on a variety of different issues and areas.
An important way that education solicitors can help schools is with the admissions process. More and more parents are being very selective about the schools they want to send their children to. Many parents want to send their children to the best schools in the area and as a result many schools are finding that there is a high demand for places. Education solicitors can help schools to ensure that their admissions policies follow the Admissions Code of Practice. In addition, solicitors specialising in education can give schools advice if the school wants to change their admissions policy. If a parent puts in a complaint about a school regarding admissions, an education solicitor will be able to help the school deal with it. Equally, if a parent makes an appeal about an admission decision, a school can utilise the skills of an education lawyer to provide advice or representation.
Education law can be particularly important for parents whose children have special education needs (or SEN). There have been cases where schools have refused to assess or reassess a child's special education needs and parents have been forced to take action. In other cases schools may have acted in a discriminatory manner towards children with disabilities and claims may need to be brought before the appropriate authorities. Education solicitors can help parents with both of these issues. However, they are also able to help schools with similar issues regarding SEN. They can work with schools to ensure that policies comply with the Disability Discrimination Act and make sure that proper risk assessment is carried out so that disabled children are not excluded from activities.
Solicitors specialising in education can advise schools on issues relating to challenging behaviour. They can provide advice on procedures to deal with bullying and anti-social behaviour and what the school's legal standpoint is. Equally solicitors can advise on situations where schools have to deal with the possibility of excluding a pupil. They can make sure that the school is up to date on relevant policies, and also whether the school's policy complies with the law. If necessary an education solicitor can act as representation for a school in an exclusion appeal case and can help the school to produce statements and documentation for the appeal.
The Academies Act of 2010 has further increased the need for education solicitors. This act allows schools to apply for conversion to academy status. This process will definitely involve an education solicitor in some way as there are a number of legal procedures that will need to be followed, for example the transfer of land and assets or enacting the commercial transfer agreement. As well as needing legal services for the conversion, the school may need advice on finance issues and employment rules and regulations. If a school is planning on converting to an academy, acquiring the services of a lawyer well versed in employment law can be very helpful. There are many different parts of the process that need consideration. These could include organising consultation on the subject with both parents and employees or may involve helping the school set up the trust that will run the academy once the conversion is complete.
These are only a few of the different areas that working in the field of education law will involve. There are a number of different issues that employment solicitors can advise both schools and parents on. These issues could involve dealing with complaints, providing advice on school expansion and acting as representation at hearings. Other areas may involve dealing with trespassers on school property, data protection issues or procuring services. Education law is a varied sub-sector of the law that can involve many different aspects of the education system and education lawyers can lend their services to parents and schools depending on the situation.