Education

Our Education Team is led by Helen Tucker, a Chair of Governors, and former Head of Legal for The Girls' Day School Trust, a large group of independent schools and academies. Many team members are school governors, charity trustees, or have relevant in house experience. As a result, the team are known for delivering clear, timely, pragmatic advice based on a thorough sector understanding.

The team regularly advises independent schools, academies, and local education authorities on issues such as strategic risk, academy conversions, mergers, governance, compliance, equality and discrimination, educational negligence, safeguarding, staff and pupil issues, and data protection matters.

Specialisms

  • Parental Complaints 
  • Governance and trustee duties 
  • Academy conversions 
  • School mergers and sales 
  • Educational negligence 
  • Safeguarding 
  • Managing allegations against staff 
  • Bullying 
  • Reasonable adjustments 
  • Disability and SEN 
  • Supplier / commercial contracts 
  • Data protection and FOIA

Relevant work

  • Advising a school in relation to a serious longstanding parental complaint, successfully resolving the matter such that a Panel hearing was avoided, and minimising the risk of a subsequent Equality Act or educational negligence claim.
  • Preparing strategic reports for the trustees of independent schools, setting out the options, issues and risks relating to ventures such as school mergers, sales, closure, international schools, and involvement with the academies programme.
  • Leading on the work for a local education authority in relation to the conversion of 21 schools to academy status, working with commercial, property, construction and employment colleagues to deliver the conversions, and providing advice to protect the client's position in relation to issues such as special resourced provision and admissions arrangements.
  • Supporting an education client in the management of serious allegations against school staff, including a robust response to a Department for Education investigation, the response to issues arising from an Ofsted inspection, and advising on issues such as reporting obligations to the Disclosure and Barring Service, NCTL and the Police, responding to threatened defamation and employment claims, data protection and freedom of information act advice in relation to the disclosure of sensitive information and reputation management, including internal communications and press statements.
  • Drafting various school policies and procedures for various school clients including Safeguarding, Behaviour and Discipline, Inclusion, Complaints, SEN, Drugs, Admissions, and reasonable adjustments assessments.
  • Acting as a retained advisor to a number of school clients, advising on issues such as the operation of the Exclusions Framework, disability and reasonable adjustments, immigration, school supplier contracts/contractual disputes, lettings agreements, copyright and alleged discrimination.

Helen Tucker’s team at Ashfords LLP is noted for its ‘very high-quality service, well-pitched advice and quick response times'. Tucker is ‘extremely thorough', and has ‘a real practical understanding of how schools function'

Legal 500, 2014 Edition

 


Education Update December 2014

Three recent pieces of guidance from DfE - Promoting fundamental British values, Cyberbullying: Advice for headteachers and school staff and data protection guidance for when considering "cloud" software services.

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Education Update October 2014

This month's Education article contains a brief update on: DfE policies and guidance list , SEN and Disability Code of Practice: 0 to 25 years, DfE guidance October 2014: Planning transition to adulthood for care leavers and Reminder - Pupils with medical conditions.

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Education update January 2015

This Education Update comments on : -Recent case considers local authority duties relating to Learning Difficulty Assessments -January 2015 Revised Exclusions Guidance -DfE Consultation on revisions to "Working together to safeguard children" -School Admissions Code 2014 now in force -New School Food Standards in force

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