Alternative Dispute Resolution
Following publication of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Directive and the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Regulation in July 2013, the government is in the process of transposing the requirements into national law.
BIS and DfE have been in touch with ISC to discuss how the new requirements will affect schools. As the requirements apply to contracts for services, fee paying schools will fall within their scope. Broadly this means:
- From 9 July 2015, once the school’s complaints procedure has been exhausted, parents must be notified (in writing) that the school cannot settle the complaint and signpost them towards a certified ADR provider stating whether or not the school intends to use ADR in that particular instance.
- From 9 January 2016, schools that sell services online must signpost to a European Online Dispute Resolution platform.
Use of ADR by schools and parents is voluntary; however schools must provide information to parents even if they do not intend to use ADR. ADR decisions will be binding on the school where this is agreed between the ADR provider and the school. Ombudsman Services have publicly stated that they will offer ADR across all sectors not covered by statutory schemes.
ISC is working with DfE and BIS to produce an FAQ document for schools on the impact of the new requirements. Schools with specific queries should send these to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recent changes to consumer credit legislation mean that greater flexibility will be afforded to schools wishing to rely upon the ‘instalment exemption’ with regard to the deferred payment of termly fees (and, by so relying on the exemption, avoid the need for FCA authorisation for such deferred payment arrangements). Up until 17 March 2015, one of the requirements for the exemption was that the deferred amount was paid in no more than four instalments. Since 18 March, the limit to four instalments has been increased to twelve. Farrer & Co has produced a note on the changes.
The duty to have regard
In a recent case involving the London Oratory School and the Schools Adjudicator, the High Court found that the duty ‘to have regard’ to guidance requires that guidance is taken into account, and for there to be ‘clear’ reasons for any departure from it. The clear reasons must 'objectively be proper reasons, or legitimate reasons' but they do not need to be ‘compelling’ given that this "introduces a subjective ingredient which is stronger even than ‘good’ or ‘cogent’, and again places the bar far higher than is appropriate in this context”.
In March the Department for Education published revised versions of Keeping Children Safe in Education and Working Together to Safeguard Children. They have also published some advice documents on What to do if you’re worried a child is being abused, Safeguarding practitioners: information sharing advice and Data protection for schools considering cloud software services.
School Regulation and Inspection - update March 2017
Apprenticeship levy, sex and relationships education, wealth screening, common standard reporting for charities, general data protection regulations, careers guidance for schools, teacher recruitment and retention, teacher workload and NCS.Read More
School Regulation and Inspection - update February 2017
New fundraising regulator, apprenticeship levy, charity law round up, Migratory Advisory Committee report, HMRC to go digital with its anti-money laundering activity, DfE guidance on buying, new governance handbook and competency framework and more.Read More
School Regulation and Inspection - update January 2017
Inquiry into education and promoting emotional well-being of pupils, Fundraising Regulator, Malpractice in A levels and GCSEs, Charities and breach of information law, Commission on religious education (CoRE), Apprenticeship levy consultationRead More
School Regulation and Inspection - update December 2016
Autumn Statement, Insurance, Inspections pilots, Inspections pilots, Consultations affecting charities, Charity law, Ministry of Defence Accredited Schools Database, Tax free childcare, General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), DfE census dataRead More
School Regulation and Inspection - update November 2016
Schools that work for everyone consultation, Children missing education, Tax free childcare, Inspection.Read More
ISC’s response to “Schools that work for everyone”
ISC has responded to the consultation “Schools that work for everyone”. Our consultation response can be viewed.Download
Childcare and Schools fact sheets
Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act: Childcare and Schools fact sheets from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.Download
Proposed New Independent School Standards
Government consultation response from the Department for Education.Download