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Families take government to court over Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) underfunding

Families represented by our public law team have brought a landmark legal challenge in the High Court against how the government funds special educational needs services. They argue that government cuts have meant that councils in England are unable to fulfil their legal duties to give these children the support they need.

SEND tribunal appeals double in four years

The number of families who have appealed to a SEND tribunal for more support for their children has almost doubled in four years.

New government figures show 6,374 appeals were received with the SEND first-tier tribunal in 2018-19, up from 5,039 a year earlier. The figures show large increases in the numbers appealing over SEND provision since the introduction of education, health and care plans (EHCPs) in 2014.

Britain “increasingly divided” with most influential people five times more likely to have gone to private school

Research indicates that the UK is an “increasingly divided” society where the country’s most influential people are five times more likely to have gone to a fee-paying school than the general population. Social mobility across the UK is “low and not improving.”    

The study, from the Sutton Trust and the Social Mobility Commission, reveals that 7% of Brits attended private school, compared with 39% of those in positions of power.

Government confirms it won’t meet its target of starting 3 million in apprenticeship schemes by 2020 

Damian Hinds, the Education Secretary, has confirmed that the government won’t meet its pledge to get three million people into apprenticeships by 2020.

In March 2019, the National Audit Office said the rate of apprenticeship starts would have to double for the government to meet its target by 2020, and the government had some way to go to make sure resources are being used to best effect. The National Audit Office (NAO) also raised concerns about the long-term financial sustainability of the apprenticeship programme.

ESFA update warns colleges about phishing alert 

The government has warned colleges of an increase in cyber-attacks, which it says “indicates a concerted and targeted attack on educational institutions” that have caused financial losses. 

Recent intelligence suggests a sophisticated phishing technique has been used to gain entry to education providers’ email systems. The technique uses the title of a genuine email that the user has recently replied to in order to trick them into believing it is authentic. The email contains a link which, when clicked, takes user to a website, but requests user credentials. The fraudster uses these credentials to send out harmful emails from the user’s account. On mobile devices, the email sometimes appears with a coloured button saying ‘Display Message’.

The fraudster then requests a bank account change from Department for Education (DfE)/ESFA (or other payment providers) often using multiple official email addresses to help create the illusion of legitimacy.

Government must substantially increase compensation to deter employers from covering up discrimination

The House of Commons’ Women and Equalities Committee has recently published its report into the use of non-disclosure agreements in some discrimination cases – specifically, sexual harassment and pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

The Committee, which is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Government Equalities Office, launched its inquiry last year.

It makes a number of important recommendations, which  should lead to change, if implemented. These include substantially increasing compensation – a presumption that, if the employee succeeds with their claim, the tribunal will order their employer to meet their legal costs and compelling an employer to pay the employee's costs of obtaining legal advice about the reasonableness and enforceability of the settlement terms on offer.

Key Contact

Helen Dyke