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Education law news round-up

September 2nd, 2011 by Edward Capewell

As people return from their no doubt well-earned summer holidays, there is much to be found in the news which is of interest to education lawyers (and indeed normal people too).

First up, the GTCE has been busy regulating the profession before its forthcoming abolition by the provisions of the Education Bill 2011. On 2nd September 2011, it found teacher Benedict Garrett, otherwise known as ‘Johnny Anglais’, guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and issued him with a reprimand. Something of a moral debate has broken out over whether teachers who earn money on the side in the sex industry are suitable material for the classroom. Unfortunately the GTCE committee’s judgment is not currently available on their website, but you can read Mr Garrett’s take on the whole affair here.

Secondly, the first free schools have been opening their doors. For help on what a free school really is (in strict terms it is simply an academy under the Academies Act 2010) readers of this blog cannot go far wrong with Joanne Clement’s paper on academies which is to be found here. There is also a helpful short paper which has been written by the staff of the House of Commons library which you can find here.

Elsewhere, the DfE has published new statutory guidance on teachers’ pay and conditions and new national minimum standards for residential special schools and boarding schools. When Parliament returns from recess, the Education Bill 2011 will continue its journey through the House of Lords committee stage with a meeting on 12th September. It is now not very far away from receiving Royal Assent.

New Teachers’ Standards

July 19th, 2011 by Michael Lee

The Government has recently published new Teachers’ Standards which will take effect from September 2012.

The new Standards are intended to be more straightforward and concise than those previously in place. The different sets of standards issued by different bodies have been replaced by a single set of Teachers’ Standards running to just four sides. The new Standards apply to all teachers, regardless of what stage of their careers they are at.

One aspect of the new Standards which has drawn media attention (see, for example the BBC and the Telegraph), is the requirement that teachers must not undermine “fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect, and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs”.

It has been suggested that this is intended to make it easier to address concerns about teachers with extremist views imparting their opinions onto their students. Yet on its face, the definition of “fundamental British values” appears to be very broad and could in practice be engaged in a range of scenarios (consider, perhaps, a debate about different faiths in the context of religious education). How this particular standard will be applied in practice once in force remains to be seen.