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Education Law for Individuals

Children and young people all too often miss out on the education and support to which they are legally entitled, which can have a detrimental effect on their well-being and development.

In higher education, processes can also go awry, leading to poor decisions with serious consequences. Education funders and regulators sometimes make mistakes too.

We feel like we are in very safe hands. It is a very strong team. It feels like they are on our side but not ‘yes’ men or women. They are not afraid to challenge us and help us strengthen our position. A dream team.

Chambers and Partners

Our education law solicitors have over 20 years’ experience in this complex field, and can assist with all aspects of education law at any stage. We can help with:

  • Admissions and exclusion
  • Disability discrimination
  • Education, Health and Care needs plans and assessments
  • Free speech issues in higher education
  • Funding cuts
  • Higher education disputes
  • Home Office TOEIC decisions and consequences
  • Inadequate responses to sexual violence and hate speech
  • Independent school disputes
  • Judicial review challenges
  • Ofsted inspections and other regulatory processes
  • Policy and procedure writing for investigating serious problems
  • Safeguarding matters
  • School transport issues
  • The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal
  • Transition to adulthood

We recognise that there is often a crossover between education law matters involving local authorities and community care disputes. Alongside education law, our solicitors are also community care specialists, which means we are best placed to secure the education, health and social care provision to which children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities are entitled.

Our team of lawyers also have the expertise to assist with wider public law challenges of decisions relating to education, for example, school closures, decisions to ‘cut’ funding for special educational needs provision and policy challenges.


The Education team’s cases include:

R. (on the application of RD (A Child) and ors) v Worcestershire CC [2019] EWHC 449 (Admin)

Jessie Brennan, Jamie Potter and Emma Varley acted for four children in a Judicial Review challenge, as a result of which the Court found that Worcestershire County Council had acted unlawfully in stopping ‘Portage’ (an educational support service provided to pre-school children with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities) without ensuring transitional plans were put in place.


Bindmans are recognised experts in so-called ‘TOEIC/ETS cases’: international students who have been wrongly accused by the Home Office of cheating on an English language test, and had their visas curtailed or refused as a result. Since these allegations first emerged at the beginning of 2014, around 35,000 former students have been told to leave the UK on this basis, generally with no right to appeal against the decision from within the UK. We have acted in many of the lead judicial review cases in this area, including successfully challenging the adequacy of Home Office evidence and fighting for appeal rights for those affected. We have also been instructed by the National Union of Students to assist with a series of reports into the scandal, including submissions to the Home Affairs Select Committee, and have produced resources to assist those who are not our clients to prepare their cases.

R. (on the application of TM) v The Governing Body of C Girls’ Academy [2015]

Karen May acted in this case where Judicial review proceedings were issued when the Academy unlawfully sought to compel the complainant to complete the last two years of her education at a PRU type placement. Proceedings were settled with the Academy agreeing for the claimant to go back to resume her education in the usual way on the school site.

R. (on the application of Diocese of Menevia) v Swansea City and County Council [2015] EWHC 1436 (Admin)

John Halford acted in this case which found that Swansea City Council acted unlawfully when making changes to its school transport policy, which was held to be indirectly discriminatory on the grounds of race.

R. (on the application of JE) v Sheffield County Council [2014]

Karen May acted in this Judicial Review concerning an overlap between special educational needs and community care law. The Claimant was extremely vulnerable having autism, ADHD and ODD as well as an attachment disorder. The case focused upon the failures in relation to the Statement of Special Educational Needs and the failures to produce a lawful care plan under section 17 of the Children act 1989.Excellent provision was secured for the Claimant at a specialist independent school as well as respite arrangements and a costs order in the Claimant’s favour.

R. (on the application of G) v West Herts College [2014]

Karen May acted in this case involving disability discrimination against a young man with Down Syndrome. Proceedings were issued and sensitive negotiations led to a settlement for damages.

R. (on the application of West) v Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council [2014] EWHC 2134 (Admin); [2014] ELR 396

Jamie Potter acted in this case where the Administrative Court quashed the decision of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council to abolish free full-time education, free school meals and free school transport for three year olds on the basis that the decision was unlawful.

R. (on the application of DD) –v- Independent Appeal Panel of the L.B. Islington [2013] ELR 483

Karen May acted in this case relating to admissions and infant school class sizes. This case concerned the approach that Panels must take where “future infant class size prejudice” is put forward by the Admissions Authority.

R. (on the application of E) v JFS Governing Body [2009] UKSC 15

John Halford acted for a child, M, and his father, E, in this case where the Supreme Court held that the admissions policy of the state maintained JFS school had discriminated on racial grounds against M and other children like him.  

R. (on the application of B) v London Borough of Barnet [2009] EWHC 2842

Karen May acted in this case which concerned various breaches of community care legislation in relation to a very vulnerable disabled child. This is a leading case regarding a Local Authority’s responsibility for putting in place alternative full time education when a child is without a suitable school place.


Bindmans were always quick to respond, courteous and thoughtful.

Chambers and Partners 2024 – Education: Individuals

The firm provided exceptional service, answered emails and calls almost immediately, were very professional and always had my full confidence.

Chambers and Partners 2024 – Education: Individuals

They made a real effort to learn about my child’s needs and had great expertise and understanding of the secondary phase transfer for SEN children.

Chambers and Partners 2024 – Education: Individuals

Bindmans went above and beyond. Their responses were quick and they always explained everything clearly.

Chambers and Partners 2024 – Education: Individuals

Quick to respond and personable, clear advice.

Legal 500 2024

Claimant focused education law team that is excellent for community care cross-over work.

Legal 500 2024

I have been impressed by the way in which the Education team at Bindmans can use the firm’s cross-sector expertise (i.e. intersection between the crime team and education team) in higher education matters relating to student discipline.

Legal 500 2024 client

This is a very highly knowledgeable and well-resourced team. They will leave no stone unturned to provide the best solution for clients. The team is very hard-working and extremely professional.

Legal 500 2024

Karen May has been absolutely fantastic and made my harsh problems very easy to share. She has showed great passion and empathy.

Legal 500 2022 – Education: Individuals

Karen May: she has vast experience and in depth knowledge of the education sector. She is astute and knows what points will work. Excellent emotional intelligence in dealing with clients on sensitive topics. Emma Varley: Rapidly developing a reputation in the education and public law sector. She has excellent analytical skills and quickly spots the best points.

Legal 500 2022 – Education: Individuals

Karen May has experience acting for vulnerable children in education and community care proceedings. She is highly recommended by sources for her handling of matters involving secondary school-age children.

Chambers and Partners 2019

We feel like we are in very safe hands. It is a very strong team. It feels like they are on our side but not ‘yes’ men or women. They are not afraid to challenge us and help us strengthen our position. A dream team.

Chambers and Partners 2018

One of the main strengths is Bindmans’ unrivalled reputation in the field of public law. Instructing Bindmans was in itself a demonstration that we were serious about the subject matter of the claim.

Chambers and Partners 2018

It is partly the calibre of the people they have in their public law team and partly their commitment and attention to detail.

Chambers and Partners 2017

Meet the team

John Halford

Head of Public Law and Human Rights

Karen May

Head of Education Law

Emma Varley

Public Law and Human Rights

Jessie Brennan

Public Law and Human Rights

Caroline Robinson

Public Law and Human Rights

Alex Temple

Public Law and Human Rights

Ellie Crowther
Trainee Solicitor

Public Law and Human Rights

How can we help you?

We are here to help. If you have any questions for us, please get in touch below.