Most children in the UK will be in school and receiving education. When a parent is faced with a child who is out of school, and they are not making progress in ensuring that they receive suitable education, the situation is both worrying and draining.
Children are out of school for many reasons. They can have been excluded, have recently arrived in the area, or have been “off-rolled”. Other reasons include bullying in school and mental health issues. Sometimes they will have Special Educational Needs (SEN) and there are difficulties in finding a school placement, or alternatively they will have a placement but nothing works in terms of getting them to it.
Working out the right course of action in these circumstances is not straightforward, as there will often be many routes which could be followed. Routes include taking legal action against the Local Authority, taking legal action against the school for not admitting a child or previous schools for unlawfully excluding them from school.
For initial advice get in touch with our Education Law Solicitors.
Our Education Law Solicitors can look at the situation, advise you on the options with your input, and help take the matter forwards if required.
Often the way to move matters forward is to threaten Judicial Review against either the school or Local Authority in an attempt to force them to provide a solution, and then, if a response is not favourable, take a legal challenge forward on behalf of the child using Legal Aid. Simpson Millar are well placed to do this being one of only two law firms with a Legal Aid contract in Education Law.
It’s unfortunately relatively common place for schools to “unlawfully exclude” pupils. The way in which they do this varies. Sometimes it’s as simple as telling a child that they are not able to return to the school. Our Education Law Solicitors and Lawyers have significant experience of dealing with these situations, including being able to use Judicial Review or the threat of Judicial Review to resolve the matter quickly. We are also able to provide clear legal advice on the appropriate way to deal with the circumstances, as in these cases there is often a risk of a (lawful) permanent exclusion if matters are pushed.
Inability to Get into Other Schools
One of the things that we often find with children who are out of school is that their parents want to get them into other schools, but are having difficulty in so doing.
Often, this is because the children may have some problems in the first place (which is why they are out of school) and other schools therefore wish if at all possible to avoid taking them.
Our Lawyers can use their experience, including with Judicial Review, to engage with schools and move matters forward, including by forcing them to either take the child or alternatively give an appeal right.
We also have experience of working with Local Authorities to ensure that pressure is put on schools to take pupils, or alternatively advising you on the use of Local Authorities fair access protocols to obtain a school place.
Provision from the Local Authority
Sometimes, there is no suitable education for a child, or, particularly for children with Special Educational Needs, it’s not reasonably practicable for them to attend the school named in their Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
We can give legal advice on all options at this stage, including seeking changes to the EHCP, and also seeking provision from the Local Authority under section 19 of the Education Act 1996. We have a Legal Aid contract in Education Law, and can use this to bring Judicial Review proceedings in the child’s name if initial efforts by us to resolve the matter do not work, providing the merits of the case warrant it.
Having a child out of school is extremely difficult, stressful and time consuming for parents. We can assist with finding a way through, and can set out all your options depending on the circumstances of the case and what you want to achieve.
For advice and help join our Education Matters Facebook community group here
For legal advice call our Education Solicitors
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Simpson Millar is a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Bristol, Cardiff, Kingston-upon-Thames, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Morecambe and Southport.