Forbes Solicitors
Education eNews  November 2018

Guidance from EAT on standard of investigation required by school on dismissal of staff

Mr Hargreaves ('the Claimant') was a teacher of Art and Design from 1 September 2005 until 17 June 2016 at the respondent school ("the Respondent"). He had an unblemished record until it was alleged that he had grabbed a pupil, pushed him against the wall and put his fingers to the pupil's throat. He was dismissed by a disciplinary panel following an investigation, and an employment tribunal ('ET') found the dismissal fair.

The Claimant then appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal ("EAT"), contending the school's investigation was inadequate given the career-changing impact of the allegation, and that the school had failed to disclose to the disciplinary panel evidence from potential witnesses who had said they had seen nothing. The Claimant argued that given the career-changing impact of the allegation, the Respondent's investigation was inadequate. More than the mere loss of a particular employment was in issue. The dismissal had a devastating effect personally, financially, and professionally and his, "hard-won career was potentially now in ruins."



Age Verification for School Online Services

It is a factor of modern life that more and more aspects of education are moving onto digital platforms. From school websites to mobile applications, cloud services to distance learning, more and more personal data is being processed online, and in the case of schools this would involve the personal data of children.

Given this, a major point schools should consider is whether they would have to apply age verification and consent systems procedures as laid out in Article 8 of the General Data Protection regulations (GDPR) and if so, what should they do about it.

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The LASBM Alliance Ltd who currently run LASBM are branching out into Cheshire and the surrounding areas with the launch of CHASBM (Cheshire Association of School Business Managers).

For further information and to take advantage of a two week free trial please click here.



Court Refuses to Disapply Limitation Period in Historical Abuse Case Against Volunteer Teacher

The claimant alleged that he had been sexually abused in the 1970s by a volunteer teacher at a school run by the defendant religious order. In 2013 the claimant issued his claim, 34 years after the expiry of the limitation period. He claimed that the defendant school was vicariously liable for the abuse which had left him with post-traumatic stress disorder and had ruined his chance of a religious vocation. He asserted that he had delayed bringing proceedings until after his mother had died as he was concerned at how much the claim would upset her.

The court refused to apply its discretion to disapply the limitation period. The Judge found that the degree of prejudice caused to the claimant was outweighed by that faced by the defendant. The 34-year delay in bringing the claim had severely prejudiced the prospects of a fair trial.


Questions we have been asked this month

Q. If the governing board receives an anonymous complaint about a head-teacher alleging inappropriate behaviour, what steps should the board take?

A. If the anonymous complaint was made by a member of staff, then any whistleblowing policy that is in place may apply. Such a policy is likely to provide that complaints should not be made anonymously due to the difficulties that the board would have investigating. However, that is not to say...

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Increasing Trend of HSE interventions within Education Establishments

The HSE reported following the introduction of the new Sentencing Guidelines in February 2016, that in the following year to end March 2017 there had been a 80% increase of fines from the previous year - an increase of fines of £69.9m from £38.8m. Admittedly, the increase in fines is probably the Courts increasing fines as against large organisations who may find themselves being fined in the millions under the new sentencing guidelines.

Nevertheless, what is clear is that there is an increasing appetite to prosecute and an increasing trend on substantial fines imposed by the Courts even against Education establishments.


New guidance from the Department for Education provides changes to the 'disqualification by association' rules

Government guidance issued by the Department for Education came into force at the beginning of the new academic year changing the "disqualification by association" rules. From September, staff working with young children in schools will no longer need to apply to Ofsted for a waiver if they live with anyone with spent convictions for certain types of crime.

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The content of this e-alert is merely informative and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice