David Wolfe

Downhills ‘victory’ – so what were the legal issues?

The Secretary of State has today agreed that there should be another Ofsted inspection of Downhills Primary School in Haringey rather than it being forced to become an academy, as he had previously insisted. The governors welcomed his decision. For a news report see here. So what were the legal issues? Following an Ofsted inspection…

New model funding agreement precludes creationism?

On 9 January 2012 the Department issued a new model funding agreement for free schools. It contains a provision being hailed by the media as a victory over the Creationists. The new clause 24A says this: “The Academy Trust shall not make provision in the context of any subject for the teaching, as an evidence-based…

Free school admissions policy gives priority to ‘children whose parents are Founders of the College’

Canary Wharf College, a free school which opened in September 2011, apparently gives priority in admissions to ‘children whose parents are Founders of the College’. Canary Wharf College is one of the majority of free schools whose funding agreement (which is where the admissions criteria would be formally set out) is not yet publicly available.…

How long does a funding agreement last?

The simple answer is ‘forever’ unless either the Secretary of State or the proprietor gives the other 7 years notice or the academy no longer meets the legal requirements for an academy or is failing. The current model agreement provides for termination: with 7 years’ notice either way, if the academy no longer meets the…

Is consultation binding?

The simple answer is that consultation is generally not binding. All that is required is that the consulter conscientiously takes into account what consultees say. So even if all responses point one way, the consulter can take them into account and go the other way (provided, of course, they can identify good reasons to do…

How long must a consultation last?

The simple answer is that there is no fixed limit or hard rule. The essential question is was the process ‘fair’. That depends partly on the way in which consultation was undertaken and partly on how long it lasted. Major public consultations normally allow 12 weeks. But with something like consultation on a proposal to…

Does TUPE apply when a free school is set up?

My colleague at Matrix, Claire Darwin, is an employment law specialist. She has very helpfully provided the following: There are plenty of circumstances in which TUPE (the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006)  would apply to the opening of a free school – and indeed the Department of Education have recognised that TUPE…