Education


A very controversial kiss

8 July 2011 by

R (on the application of G) v The Governors of X School [2011] UKSC 30 – Read judgment 

On 4 October 2007 the parents of a 15 year old boy complained that he had been kissed by his 22 year old school sessional music teaching assistant (G).

After an (inconclusive) Police investigation, the school held a disciplinary hearing and dismissed G. They also referred his case to the Secretary of State with a view to him being barred from working with children. The Claimant appealed to the school governors. He also sought to be represented by his solicitor. In this he was successful on judicial review and at the Court of Appeal.

The question for the Supreme Court was, did Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights (the right to a fair trial) mean that G was entitled to be legally represented at the hearing before the school governors?

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Banned preacher address Oxford Union

14 February 2011 by

Controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik has addressed the Oxford Union by satellite link, despite being banned from visiting the UK by the home secretary.

The Home Office has wide discretion to exclude radicals which it considers have displayed ‘unacceptable behaviours’ , and the preacher was excluded under this policy in June 2010. The exclusion is currently being challenged in the courts. The home office successfully defended the ban in the high court (see our post), but that judgment is being challenged by the preacher in the court of appeal.

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Coalition cancellation of school building program was unlawful

11 February 2011 by

Luton Borough Council & Nottingham City Council & Ors, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for Education [2011] EWHC 217 (Admin) (11 February 2011) – Read judgment

The high court has ruled that the coalition government’s cancellation of Labour’s school building program in 6 areas was unlawful. The full background to the ruling can be found here.

Michael Gove, the education secretary, announced in July that the £55bn scheme was to be reduced significantly, prompting five councils to challenge the decision by way of judicial review.

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Claim fails against Belfast police on protection of school walk from violence

15 December 2010 by

PF and EF v UK (Application No. 28326/09) – Read judgment

The European Court of Human Rights has dismissed an application brought against the police in Northern Ireland by a mother and her daughter who argued the police had failed to take sufficient action to protect them from loyalist riots on their route to primary school.

The court held that the police must be afforded a degree of discretion in taking operational decisions, and that in this case the police took all “reasonable steps” to protect the applicants.

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Exclusion of Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik was lawful, says High Court

10 November 2010 by

Dr Zakir Naik and The Secretary of State for the Home Department and Entry Clearance Officer, Mumbai India [2010] EWHC 2825 (Admin) – read judgment

As we reported last week, the High Court has approved the exclusion of Dr Zakir Naik, a popular Indian television Islamic preacher, from the UK on the grounds that his presence would not be conducive to the public good.

Despite the High Court finding that the initial decision to exclude Dr Naik was procedurally unfair and that Article 10 ECHR (the right to freedom of expression) was engaged in relation to his supporters, his challenge to the exclusion was rejected. This case focuses the spotlight once more on the somewhat limited territorial reach of the rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Convention, as well as the wide discretion of the Home Office to exclude radicals which it considers have displayed ‘unacceptable behaviours’.

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Spying on school parents was unlawful and breach of human rights

3 August 2010 by

Worth lying for?

(1) MS JENNY PATON (2) C2 (3) C3 (4) C4 (5) C5 and POOLE BOROUGH COUNCIL, Investigatory Powers Tribunal – Read ruling

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) has ruled that a local council acted unlawfully in spying repeatedly on parents suspected of lying about where they lived in order to get their child into a sought after school. The ruling may not, however, prevent local authorities from spying on families for similar reasons in the future.

The IPT exists to investigate complaints about conduct by various public bodies, including in relation to surveillance under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). Section 28 of RIPA allows a public body to apply to conduct direct surveillance if the authorisation is necessary on various grounds, including the detection of crime.

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Delay in providing for special educational needs does not breach Convention right to education says Supreme Court

16 July 2010 by

A (Appellant) v Essex County Council & National Autistic Society (Intervener) [2010] UKSC 33

Supreme Court (Lord Phillips, Lady Hale, Lord Brown, Lord Kerr, Lord Clarke) July 14 2010

The right to education under Article 2 Protocol 1 of the Convention was not breached by the delay in catering for the special educational needs of a child. Convention rights must be intepreted pragmatically;  it is not right to equate a failure to provide the educational facilities required by domestic law with a denial of access to education.

This was an appeal against a decision ([2008] EWCA Civ 364, [2008] H.R.L.R. 31) upholding the dismissal by summary judgment of the appellant’s claim that the respondent local authority had breached his right to education under A1P1.

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Human right to education a “weak right”?

7 July 2010 by

A recent Supreme Court decision has reopened a debate on whether it can properly be said that there is a human right to education under the European Convention on Human Rights.

We posted last week on the decision in the Norther Ireland matter of JR17, where The Supreme Court found that there was no breach of a pupil’s right to education where he was unlawfully suspended from school but was provided with work to do and home tutoring.

Today Aidan O’Neil QC, writing on the UK Supreme Court Blog, provides an interesting analysis of the European case-law on the right to education. He also points out that the right to education exists as a protocol (effectively an appendix) rather than in the main body of the European Convention as “no consensus could initially be reached about the recognition of these claims as being fundamental rights.

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Polish religious education breached freedom of conscience rights of pupil

24 June 2010 by

Grzelak v. Poland (no. 7710/02) – read judgment

The European Court of Human Rights has found that A Polish boy who refused to attend religious instruction classes for reasons of personal conviction had been discriminated against human rights because of a policy of reflecting that non-attendance in school reports.

The applicant Mateus Grzelak had been brought up in a non-religious tradition by his parents who were also applicants. Mateus began his schooling at the age of seven, and in conformity with his parents’ wishes, he did not attend religious instruction. Doctrinal classes were scheduled in the middle of the school day, between various compulsory courses.

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Feature | A human right to money: will it ever happen?

8 June 2010 by

Prime Minister David Cameron has been busy preparing the country for “painful” cuts to pensions, pay and benefits. In a recent Guardian Article, The changing face of human rights, Afua Hirsch comments with approval on the 2008 recommendation by the Joint Committee on Human Rights that a new UK bill of rights should include the rights to health, education, housing and an adequate standard of living. Rosalind English asks whether the time has indeed come for “economic” human rights.

Ms Hirsch cites a number of examples around the world where such “social and economic rights” have been used successfully to challenge government policy on the distribution of healthcare, housing and benefits. Why, then, she asks, is such an extension of our existing rights so strenuously resisted in this country?

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Education not recognised as a “civil right” under Convention due process rules

29 March 2010 by

R (on the application of LG) (Appellant) v Independent Appeal Panel for Tom Hood School (Respondent) & Secretary of State for the Department for Children, Schools and Families (Interested Party) [2010] EWCA Civ 142

(Read judgment here)

CA (Civ Div) (Rix LJ, Wilson LJ, Sir Scott Baker) February 26 2010

An exclusion hearing by a school does not engage the pupil’s Article 6 of the Convention since there is no “civil right” to education recognized as such either by the Convention or by domestic law.

Summary

The appellant pupil (VG) had been involved in a fight at the school. He was accused of having a knife, which he denied. The school permanently excluded VG and he appealed. The panel, in accordance with the Education (Pupil Exclusions and Appeals) (Maintained Schools) (England) Regulations 2002 reg.7A, found on the balance of probabilities that he had carried a knife, and upheld his exclusion. VG appealed against a decision ((2009) EWHC 369 (Admin), (2009) BLGR 691) to refuse his application for judicial review of the decision of the respondent panel to uphold a decision to permanently exclude him from a school. He argued that his right to a fair hearing under Article 6 was engaged, either on the basis that the panel had determined his civil right not to be excluded from the school without good reason, or on the basis that the panel had determined a criminal charge against him, and that right had been infringed by the decision to exclude him having been based on allegations established against him on the balance of probabilities rather than on the criminal standard of proof. He also contended that regulation 7A(c), although purportedly made pursuant to the Education Act 2002 s.52, was ultra vires in that a rule about standard of proof was one of evidence and not procedure as permitted by s.52(3)(d).

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Teacher subject to disciplinary proceedings entitled to legal representation if his name is to be added to children protection register

23 January 2010 by

Governers of X School v R(on the Application of G) (Claimant) & Y City Council and Secretary of State for Children and Schools and Families (Interveners) & Equality and Human Rights Commission (Interested Party)

[2010] EWCA Civ 1;CA (Civ Div) (Laws LJ, Wilson LJ, Goldring J) January 20 2010

Where an individual had a civil right being determined in one set of proceedings for the purposes of Article 6, he would be able to claim protection under that provision in any other proceeding involving him if the outcome of that other would have a substantial effect on the determination of that civil right.

SUMMARY

The claimant had been employed as a teaching assistant at the appellant school. As a result of alleged incident of a sexual nature with a pupil, disciplinary procedures were instigated against him which culminated in the hearing before the committee. He was told that in these hearings employees could be represented by a colleague or a trade union representative but that any other form of legal representation would not be permitted.

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