Questions we've been asked this month

Together we are Forbes


27 April, 2017

Q. What can be done if a parent and/or member of staff is speaking unfavourably about the School on Social Media?

A. The situation is slightly different for a parent as it is for a member of staff. Where a member of staff is speaking unfavourably about the School on Social Media, this could be a disciplinary matter depending on the circumstances. The School should have in place a Social Media Policy which sets standards for staff to adhere to in respect of Social Media, and thereby any breach of the Policy could be considered misconduct and so should be dealt with under the relevant Disciplinary procedures. It is important that staff are aware of Social Media policies, and know what is expected of them on such forums.

Where a parent is speaking unfavourably about a School on Social Media, the situation is different. If a School considers that what is being said is malicious and/or untrue, this could give rise to a claim for defamation. However, a claim for defamation is likely to involve lengthy and expensive court proceedings. Hence, an option to be considered is sending correspondence to the parent in question to inform them of the extent of what they are doing as unlawful and the implications and consequences that may happen as a result. It is possible to indicate the Court proceedings you are prepared to enter into if they do not stop, however there is no obligation to engage in such proceedings as a result of this.

Q. What are the legal implications for staff who perform First Aid in Schools?

A. Although teachers in charge of pupils are under a duty use their best endeavours to secure the welfare of pupils, is sensible that staff are not encouraged to perform any form of first aid or resuscitation, if they are not properly trained to do so in order to avoid the risk of harmful intervention and so a claim of negligence. However, staff should be encouraged to locate the work place first aider in such situations so that these employees are able to administer the necessary first aid and/or call an ambulance in such situations. Schools should ensure that training is up to date in respect of first aid and resuscitation procedures and that any relevant guidance and recommendations are always followed. Schools should have in place First Aid Policies so that all staff are aware of the first-aid arrangements, the location of equipment, facilities and first-aid personnel, and the procedures for monitoring and reviewing the school's first-aid needs. School employers should also ensure that insurance arrangements are in place to provide full cover for claims arising from actions of staff members acting within the scope of their employment.

Q. Do we need to provide disabled parking bays in School? If so, how many?

A. Not providing disabled parking bays has the potential to expose schools to liability for disability discrimination. However, the Equality Act does not impose a specific duty to provide disabled parking bays as such. However, schools as both an employer and a service provider are under a duty to make reasonable adjustments for employees and for members of the public making use of any facilities offered by the school.

The amount of parking spaces required is something which is not prescribed by the Act. However, a potential starting point could be to ascertain how many disabled employees there are within the school, as reasonable adjustments will need to be considered for these people. In respect of visitors to the school, it is obviously a more onerous exercise to determine exactly how many disabled spaces are required, however the BSI British Standards published a Code of Practice on Accessible Buildings in 2009 which recommended that that premises should have one disabled parking space for every employee who is a disabled (and who drives) plus 5% of the total capacity for visitor parking should be designated as disabled parking.

It should be noted that the duty is to make adjustments which are reasonable, and this is something which should be assessed by reference to individual and specific circumstances. However, the need for disabled spaces amongst employees and visitors should be kept under regular review and if it becomes apparent that there is a shortage of spaces, then the school should look to provide more in order to comply with their duties under the Equality Act.

If you are looking for any more information with regards to our services view our Education section. You can also contact Ruth Rule-Mullen in our Education department via email or phone on 01772 220195. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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