Category: Civil Litigation
Director Julia Donnelly is one of Scotland’s most experienced solicitors in advising parents on how obtain a place in the classroom of a school which matches the child’s educational needs. Here she explains what is involved. And if you have been involved in a placing request and need our help, please contact our team at Livingstone Brown, and we can offer legal advice and support throughout the process.
As we move into the post-pandemic era we are in the aftermath of one of the most disrupted phases in education in the past 100 years. As well as compromises with the curriculum brought about by remote learning, children have been affected socially and emotionally by being deprived of contact with their peers, in some cases over a lengthy period.
These are also important factors that have a huge bearing the importance of parental choice as to which school their child should attend, with aim of ensuring the continuity of social connections they may have made in school or pre-school can be maintained as the move on through the system.
The Dalai Lama defined education as “The Flourishing of a Human Being.” This is an apt quote that recognises that to fulfil their potential at school a child requires to feel safe, stable and engaged, to benefit from not only educational curriculum but also from the full social and emotional learning experience that school represents.
Every parent wants to give their child the best in terms of educational opportunities and outcomes. But the processes for changing school can be complex, and decision-making can vary between different areas.
Particularly in these difficult times, if you or your family have made a school placing request that has been refused, your understanding of what is involved would benefit from receiving technical legal advice from a solicitor who has experience in this area.
At Livingstone Brown we have had many years of experience in advising parent and presenting appeals under the Education Act. Before beginning any form of action, we are well-placed to advise you the prospects of an appeal and all aspects of the Committee Appeal and Sheriff Court process.
Choosing the right school for your child is one of the most important decisions you will make for them, but parental choice is not the only factor – the local council can veto a placing request. But the Education Authority’s decision to refuse your child a place in your school of choice can be challenged.
Local authorities have a duty to provide education directed to the development of your child’s personality, talents and physical abilities to their fullest potential. In terms of the European Convention of the Rights of the Child, your child’s views must also be taken account of if they wish to express them.
Even if one or more of specific statutory grounds for refusal of the placing request exist, the Sheriff Court can still override these considerations, by looking at the unique needs of the particular child, such as a child’s personality and characteristics, and the importance to them of peer groups, and the familiarity of established bonds.
Due to lockdown, these bonds are going to be more important than ever.
But the school calendar means that only a limited time is allowed by the courts for any legal challenge to be made.
The impact of recent times has left some children feeling less confident and more vulnerable. The court requires to consider all the relevant circumstances, and has the power to direct that a place be offered in the particular school of choice.
Your appeal could be also based on a wide range of things such as your child having siblings in the school; there being logistical/ practical problems in getting to the school, or health issues affecting the child or a parent or another family member.
At Livingstone Brown Solicitors, we have dealt with many cases where we have successfully persuaded the courts to override objections of the Education Authority and favour parental choice.
The law in this area is complex, with several key pieces of legislation to consider, and the timescales are short. If you have been involved in a placing request and need our help, please contact our team at Livingstone Brown, and we can offer legal advice and support throughout the process.