Education 'in danger' from litigious trend

A LEADING academic lawyer has warned that the nation's education process could suffer if the growing trend toward classroom litigation is not halted.

The University of Buckingham's vice dean of law, Jonathan Robinson, says caseload in the area has increased since the late 1980s when the introduction of new statutes and regulations created “a legalistic and administrative ethos”.

Robinson, a consultant to Aylesbury firm Horwood & James and editor of the new Education Law Reports, says uncertainty about future employment prospects means parents are now prepared to “fight their children's corner”. The provision of legal aid to children in their own right has also given families a “powerful weapon”.

Robinson says actions are being taken on a range of issues like admissions, exclusions, special educational needs and race relations, and the situation shows no sign of improving.

“The extraordinary growth in litigation on education issues may soon produce a defensive approach which could be described as preventive education,” he says.

“The first thing that could be done to improve the situation is for the Government to call a halt on any further local reforms and allow the whole system time to settle down.”