Specialist Education Proceedings Lawyers
Recent changes in legislation means that a school’s discretion to allow absences during term times has been dramatically reduced, resulting in an increase in the number of parents facing fixed penalties and ultimately – where such penalties are disputed – facing complex education court proceedings.
Local Councils are also increasingly taking a sterner approach to issues regarding non-school attendance and truancy, which can ultimately result in criminal prosecutions being sought. Any parent or legal guardian has a legal responsibility to ensure that their child receives a suitable education, and so are often prosecuted – even in cases where securing such attendance is outside of their control.
At Olliers we have specialist solicitors nationwide who are able to assist with any criminal proceedings arising out of education matters and understand that these can be complicated, and often, emotional cases for our clients.
Often the schools will make contact with the parents to discuss the issues prior to any criminal proceedings being instigated, but often, if a decision is taken to progress matters further, parents are subjected to interviews under caution and court appearances. Olliers can assist from start to finish in terms of any criminal investigation and know how important it is to have the correct advice from the outset.
The Education Act 1996
There are two criminal offences under the Education Act 1996. The lesser offender, under s444 (1) has a sentencing range of a discharge to a fine of a maximum of £1000. The more serious offence, however, under s444 (1a) of the Act (whereby it is alleged that a parent has knowingly allowed a child to be absent from school) can result in a custodial sentence up to three months and so the importance of legal representation cannot be underestimated.
There are numerous defences which are available to this offence and Olliers recognise the importance in considering all available defences and presenting a case at the highest possible standard.
Specialist Education Lawyers (Manchester & London)
Should you be facing any investigation or prosecution under this heading, do not hesitate to contact us.
Contact Laura Baumanis or Saskia Abbott on 0161 834 1515.