If or your family are involved in a school placing request that has been refused, this can be a very anxious situation. In that event, you are likely to benefit from seeking technical legal advice from a solicitor experienced in this area, to advise you of your appeal prospects and deal with framing of an appeal to the Sheriff Court correctly.
At Livingstone Brown, we appreciate that choosing the right school for your child is one of the most important decisions you will make for them. We can assist you in providing both clear legal advice and representation in connection with your rights to challenge the Education Authority’s decision to refuse your child a place in your school of choice.
The ethos of the primary statute governing this area of the law, the Education (Scotland) Act 1980, is to prioritise parental choice. For the reason the act has been dubbed the “Parents’ Charter”. Education Authorities also have a duty to provide education directed to the development of a child’s personality, talents and physical abilities to their fullest potential. In addition, the child’s views must also be taken account of if they wish to express them, subject age and stage of maturity. The default position in the legislation is that the Education Authority is prohibited from refusing a placing request unless one or more of specific statutory grounds are present, and even if these exist, the court can override these considerations, focus on the unique needs of the particular child/ family, and direct that the child be offered a place at the school of choice.
With expert legal advice we can help you in presenting your case as effectively as possible to clearly demonstrate the implications for your own child/ family of exclusion from a school, where it may be that he or she has siblings attending, or there could be other significant welfare and logistical reasons why the school of choice is preferable; we would explore the full context with you so as to present the strongest possible case.
As a result of this approach, at Livingstone Brown we have dealt with many cases where even though statutory grounds of refusal may exist, we have successfully persuaded the courts to override the objections of the Education Authority and grant a place for children in the school of parental choice.
We would emphasise that the law in this area has an extremely complex statutory framework developed by a process of amendment. There are several key pieces of legislation, in addition to the 1980 Act, that can be relied on. For example the Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc Act 2000 sets out the Education Authority’s duty to secure improvements in the quality of school education. Such provisions together with the terms of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 can be relied upon, in addition to the ethos of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 (dubbed the “Parents Charter”), to support your case.
If you or your family have been involved in a placing request and need our help contact Julia Donnelly, head of civil law, at our Carlton Place office in Glasgow City Centre.