Education Law and Faith Schools

According to recent estimates, almost a third of all schools in England and Wales are faith schools, and almost a quarter of all children are educated in a faith school. These types of schools were a key plank in the labour government’s strategy for education, and the Coalition has indicated that it will continue to increase the amount of educational services which are provided by religious groups.

There are three types of faith schools: voluntary aided, voluntary controlled and independent religious schools, and different rules apply to each of these.

Voluntary Controlled Faith Schools
These are schools which are funded by the state and where the state is responsible for the day-to-day management and control of the school. The buildings and land are owned by a religious group, and that religious group has the right to appoint the governors and often the head teacher, but other teachers are employed by the local education authority. The appointment of these teachers is subject to the same conditions as teachers in regular state schools and there is no requirement that the teachers profess the same faith as the religious group which established the school.

In voluntary controlled faith schools, the admissions policy is set and administered by the local education authority. This means that these types of schools are usually open to all students and there is no requirement that the student has an attachment to the faith held by the religious group which established the school.

Voluntary Aided Faith Schools
These are schools which are funded by the state but are managed and controlled by a religious group. The religious group owns the land and buildings, appoints the governors of the school and selects and appoints teachers. All teachers are directly employed by the religious group, and it is lawful for the religious group to require teachers to profess the same faith and to discipline staff for breaching religious principles or acting in a way which is inconsistent with the schools ethos.

In voluntary aided faith schools, the admissions policy is determined and enforced by the governors of the school. This means that very often prospective students are required to demonstrate some adherence to the religious principles on which the school is founded.

Independent Faith Schools
These are schools which are entirely funded and controlled by a religious group. The religious group appoints the governors and employs all of the staff as well as setting the admissions policy. Independent faith schools often require both teachers and students to be professing members of a particular religious sect or denomination, and can discipline both staff and students if they act in a way which is inconsistent with the schools ethos and religious values.

Teaching in Faith and Religious Schools
Both voluntary aided and voluntary controlled faith schools are required to teach the national curriculum, and students will cover the same subjects as pupils in other state maintained schools. The only exception to this is in the case of religious education, where faith schools are allowed to set their own curriculum which will usually focus on the religious beliefs held by the charity or church which founded the school. Voluntary aided and voluntary controlled schools are also entitled to insist that religious education is taught by a professing member of a particular faith or denomination.

There is no requirement for independent faith schools to teach the national curriculum and these schools will set their own subjects and studies.

For a variety or reasons, ranging from smaller class sizes to higher standards of discipline many faith schools have better league table results than other state run schools and this makes them highly desirable. Many parents will consider legal challenges to admission criteria to try and get their children a place.

Special Education – The Law is on Your Side

Help is available– and the law is on your side. Its promise is simple: Every child counts. Every child is entitled to an education. Every eligible child with a disability is entitled to a “special” education – one that confers “meaningful benefits.” That is what Congress has said. That is what the United States Supreme Court has said.

The law protects every child. The law protects you as your child’s parent.

Individualized Education Plan (IEP) – Every special-education student must have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) developed by a team that includes parents, teachers, school administrators, and other professionals. An IEP establishes educational goals and describes the special services that will be provided to the student.

Due Process – Special-Education law provides many due-process hearing and appeal procedures.
“Section 504″Classroom accommodations are available to many students (K-12 and college) who have disabilities.

There are only five modes of communication that can lead to a disability; they are auditory, visual, verbal, nonverbal and tactical communication.

If your child’s disability is affecting their education, they may be eligible to receive services under the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation act of 1973. The IDEA requires public schools to locate and identify children with disabilities who may need specialized education. These children must “have available” to them a free appropriate public education (FAPE) that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs” 20 U.S.C. sec. 140(d). Children with disabilities must “to the maximum extent appropriate [be] educated with children who are not disabled” 20 U.S. C. 1412 (e)(5).

Many parents find themselves in a situation where their child is either struggling academically or having discipline problems in school. Often times, there maybe an unidentified disability causing these problem. If they do have a disability that is negatively affecting their education, they would likely benefit from special education services.

Special Education services may include:
Occupational therapy
Speech and language therapy
Resource specialist programs
Modification of the regular education programs
Special day classes
Non-public schools
Residential treatment, and many more.

If you believe your child will benefit from special education services call a professional. Your child only goes through their education process once, so give your child the best chance for the future by making sure they have the type of education that helps them learn and succeed. Nothing is more important to their future.

10 Things You Should Know About Education Law

If you’re involved in education, then you probably know already how important education law is. If you are new to the education sector, or are now dealing with education establishments, here’s what you need to know.

1. Education establishments such as schools and universities still have the same accountability as other organisations, and so will need to be just as organised in terms of the management, as well as educationally.

2. The health and safety of the pupils and staff is of paramount importance, especially when carrying out experiments, or whilst on trips. The relevant rules and regulation will have to be followed to the letter so that there is no risk of any accidents or injury.

3. Pupil discipline is often in the news, and it’s essential that staff know how to deal with unruly pupils, and their parents, in accordance with school policy and the law.

4. Employment laws are still applicable in a school or university, and so you’ll need to make sure that like pupils, the staff are not subjected to instances of bullying or discrimination, and that any instances are taken seriously.

5. You’ll need to make sure that recruitment policies are fair, and comply with the law. It’s important to remember that potential staff might need to have additional checks carried out on them, and that qualifications and experience are verified.

6. Although you’re not a standard sort of company, you’ll need to make sure that all paperwork, contracts and policies comply with relevant laws, rules and regulations.

7. Schools and universities will be dealing with many suppliers and so might need help with contracts and ensure that they get best value for money. Education law solicitors can help with this.

8. Some schools receive donations and funding, and it’s important that this is all documented properly and that the paperwork is properly filled in and that relevant forms have been submitted properly.

9. You might be involved in estate management, and want to make sure that if you’re buying and selling land that everything is legal and in the best interests of the school.

10. If you’re involved in education construction projects, then you’ll need to be aware that normal planning permission and environmental laws still apply, so you’ll have to make sure that all aspects of the project are legal.

Now you know more about education law, and how it might affect you, perhaps you need the services of an experienced education law solicitor.