‘A tough negotiator, who is excellent with lay clients [with] an impeccable court manner’
The Legal 500
Emma was recently instructed by the Welsh Government as junior counsel to defend a claim for judicial review brought by parents who objected on religious and/or philosophical grounds to their children being taught “Relationships and Sexuality Education”. A summary of this important judgment can be found here.
EXPERIENCE & EXPERTISE
Emma deals with the full range of issues that arise in the context of maintained schools and academies, including admissions, exclusions, special educational needs and disability discrimination and school transport. She is also experienced in claims arising in the independent school sector and further and higher education sector.
Emma appears in appeals to the tribunal system in England and Wales and advises and represents parties in judicial review claims concerning special educational needs in the Administrative Court.
Emma is instructed by the Welsh Government on a number of education law matters, including the extent of the duties of the Welsh Ministers and advises private and public bodies on the safeguarding of children within the education system. With regards to safeguarding, Emma provides advice and training to public bodies in relation to their duties.
CASES AND WORK OF NOTE
R (on the application of Isherwood et al) v The Welsh Ministers  EWHC 3331 (Admin), Steyn J (final hearing), Tipples J (interim hearing)
Instructed by the Welsh Government as junior counsel to defend a claim for judicial review brought by five parents who objected on religious and/or philosophical grounds to their children being taught “Relationships and Sexuality Education” which was a mandatory element of the new Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Act 2021. The claimants challenged the lawfulness of “The Curriculum for Wales – Relationships and Sexuality Education Code” and “The Relationships and Sexuality Education: Statutory Guidance”. All grounds were dismissed following a two day contested hearing. In particular, the court found that no fundamental parental right of excusal existed at common law, and in relation to the second sentence of article 2 of protocol 1 ECHR, that both of the challenged documents complied with the pluralism requirement. Emma successfully represented the Welsh Government at the interim hearing and was led by Jonathan Moffett KC of 11KBW at the final hearing. Please see here for the judgment.
2019 onwards: instructed by the Welsh Government to advise upon:
- Religious education in schools
- Collective worship in schools
- Education grants
- Deprivation of liberty issues in specialist educational placements
- SEN specialist assessment processes (including how a pupil’s capacity impacts on such processes)
- Participation and representation of children, young persons and parents who lack capacity within the tribunal system
- Development of the ‘Education and Skills’ section for the Law Wales website
In the matter of Re S: Mr and Mrs G v London Borough of Hackney (ACC) (UT) 
Instructed on behalf of the respondent in an appeal to the UT regarding a decision of the FtT that child S did not require an EHC assessment to be undertaken in accordance with section 36 of the Children and Families Act 2014. The five grounds of appeal were defended which included (i) misapplying the statutory test (ii) failing to consider the funding position and (ii) failing to consider the evidence of the OT. As child S had been diagnosed with ASD following the FtT decision (some months ago), it was accepted that an assessment should now be undertaken.
Re X Charitable Institution v A Local Authority & A Board of Governors 
Instructed by a charity to advise upon the implications of the religious constitution of a school, school closure, the disposal of land on which the school was situated, and the rights of third parties having regard to historic trust deeds.
Re M 
Instructed by the Director of Social Services within a Local Authority to prepare an independent report regarding the safeguarding practices and procedures in place for children following the conviction of a former employee of child sexual abuse.
Re X School Reorganisation 
Instructed by a Local Authority to advise on the process of amalgamating a foundation school and a community school into a community school in Wales and how issues regarding the charitable status of the foundation school should be addressed.
Re X PRU 
Successfully defended a Pupil Referral Unit in a complex Equality Act 2010 claim where it was alleged that the school had discriminated against a pupil by excluding them from the school on multiple occasions (s.85(2)(e)), by not providing them with education (s.85(5)(c)); and by failing to make reasonable adjustments (s.85(6)). The FTT rejected the claim on all grounds.
Re X Farm Park 
Instructed by a private commercial company to advise upon the appropriate entrance policy for persons caring for a child with a disability.
Re H 
Instructed by the parents of a child in a claim against a school regarding misuse of private information (causing damage and distress to the child), breach of confidence, breach of its statutory duties under the Data Protection Act 1998 and contrary to section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998 (its actions constituting an unjustified and disproportionate interference in the child’s right to privacy pursuant to Article 8 of the ECHR.
Emma is recommended as a leading junior in The Legal 500 for education law, most recently quoted as being ‘A go-to lawyer for thorny issues.’