Stone King - Independent Schools Briefing - September 2019


The independent schools sector is a key part of our work at Stone King, and we have continued to expand our specialist team, which has already seen great growth within the last year. Do take a look at our profile pages to find out more about our team.
 

It has been a busy few months in the team: we have seen trends in more complaints going to stage 3 panel hearings, more schools actively considering or proceeding to merge, increasing numbers of parents threatening and / or issuing proceedings for alleged disability discrimination and /or failure to make reasonable adjustments, and subject access requests being made where parents are making a complaint, or seeking recovery of fees.

In this edition we discuss:

  1. Landmark decision: Can the SEN & Disability Tribunal order an independent school to admit or reinstate a pupil?
  2. Tax changes affecting self-employed contractors
  3. Teaching online safety in schools
  4. Trespassers and what to do about them
  5. The right of access: 5 top tips for dealing with tricky subject access requests
  6. Managing conflicting instructions from separated parents
  7. New DfE guidance: the Independent School Standards
  8. Keeping children safe in education
  9. Department for Education guidance: Indicators of potential fraud and raising awareness of cyber crime
  10. How to protect your school's Confidential Information
  11. New Relationships and Sex Education Guidance
A landmark decision of the Upper Tribunal requiring reinstatement of a pupil to an independent school.

In a landmark decision, the Upper Tribunal has held that independent schools can be ordered to reinstate an excluded pupil and risk of being in contempt of court if they fail to do so.

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Tax changes affecting self employed workers

From 6th April 2020, employers will be required to undertake an assessment of the employment status of self-employed contractors, and may be required to deduct employment tax at source.

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Teaching online safety in schools

The Department for Education (the “DfE”) has published its non-statutory guidance “Teaching online safety in schools” which aims to support schools in teaching pupils in an age and developmentally appropriate way, how they can stay safe online. Whilst not aimed at independent schools, it nonetheless provides useful guidance and should be considered when developing a whole school approach to online safety.

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Trespassers and what to do about them

During the summer period we often notice an increase in cases involving trespassers on school sites. Part of this is likely to be attributable to schools being closed for the holidays, and therefore land is in less regular use. It is important that schools keep a close eye on their land and take swift action if such a situation arises. This includes seeking immediate legal advice so that schools are able to recover possession of the land with the least amount of damage possible.

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The right of access: 5 top tips for dealing with tricky subject access requests

If your school has received a tricky subject access request (‘SAR’), you will perhaps already be aware that the GDPR provides that a request can only be refused where it is “manifestly unfounded or excessive”. Up until now, there has been limited guidance as to what this actually means, which has resulted in many schools (rightly) taking a cautious approach when responding to a SAR.

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Managing conflicting instructions from separated parents

We are often asked to advise on issues where parents have separated and the school finds itself stuck in the middle. How can the school navigate these situations? The answer to this thorny question is best answered by running through the series of questions set out below:

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New DfE guidance: the Independent School Standards

Independent schools are required to meet the standards set out in the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014 (“the standards”). Independent schools are inspected against these standards by their relevant inspectorate (ISI or Ofsted).

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Keeping children safe in education

The Department for Education (“DfE”) update to Keeping Children Safe in Education (”KCSIE”) statutory guidance came into force on 2nd September 2019. Whilst there are no major changes and therefore very little modification required to existing policies, we have summarised the changes schools should be aware of.

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Department for Education guidance: Indicators of potential fraud and raising awareness of cyber crime

Earlier this year the Education and Skills Funding Agency published guidance on indicators for potential fraud. Whilst not aimed at independent schools, it nonetheless provides a helpful list of generic indicators and/or risk factors associated with potential fraud. It also highlights that due to the nature of fraud, the indicators/risk factors listed are not designed to be an exclusive list but instead may be helpful for use as a checklist where concerns exists that fraudulent activity may be taking place.

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How to protect your schools Confidential Information

The existence of the confidential information can affect schools in a wide range of instances. This article looks at what confidential information is, how it can be protected and what can happen if it is misused.

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New Relationships and Sex Education Guidance

Earlier this year the first new guidance on Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in almost 20 years was issued by the Department for Education.

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