3PB Direct

3PB’s education team is one of most well respected in the UK and represents parents, pupils, schools and their governing bodies (both from the maintained and the independent sectors), academies, universities and colleges, NGOs including charities, students, teaching and academic staff and local authorities in education law.


3PB’s highly-respected Education law team have been busy monitoring the DfE to have all in one place, all the relevant Coronavirus guidance so far. This guidance covers everything from vulnerable children and young people, maintaining educational provision, temporarily closing schools, tips for parents and carers, cancellation of GCSEs, AS, A-levels and BTECs and the associated exam results in August 2020 following “algorithm anarchy”, as well as relaxing the regulations on school admissions appeals.

This latter regulatory change comes into force this week from April 24 and lasts until January 31, 2021. Under current legislation, admission appeals to either local authorities, academy trusts or schools governing bodies – depending on the school in question – must be conducted in person in front of three panel members. The new guidelines stops this requirement and instead give flexibility for panel hearings to take place either in person, by telephone, video conference or through a paper-based appeal where all parties can make representations in writing. There is also relaxation of the rules if one of the 3 panel members withdraws (temporarily or permanently) so the panel can continue with and conclude the appeal as a panel of 2 and amend the deadlines relating to appeals for the time that the new regulations are in force (at least 28 calendar days).

3PB education law barrister Matthew Wyard has advised and written specifically on The Coronavirus Bill and the specific, separate impact on the independent or private school sector in the UK.

Special Educational Needs

If your child has Special Educational Needs it can be difficult to access appropriate support for their education. Whether you are dealing with an Educational Health and Care Plan, preparing appeal documents, negotiating with the local authority or school or you have to attend a review, hearing or final tribunal, 3PB can help.

Our team has particular expertise in Appeals to the first-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) (‘SEND Tribunal’)) concerning statements of special education needs and education-related disability discrimination claims at all levels, including but not limited to SEND Tribunal proceedings and Independent Review Panel proceedings within the context of school exclusions. The team also handles Upper Tribunal Appeals arising from decisions of the SEND Tribunal.

Issues with schools and academies

You may have school admission issues or your child may have been excluded from school. We give advice and assist with disputes concerning school complaints procedures, attendance issues, school closures and re-organisations as well as issues of governance and funding. Our barristers act on breach of contract claims concerning independent schools and education negligence claims and other damages claims arising at schools and academies.


The team routinely handles claims against schools and academies for all other forms of discrimination – for example in county court, employment tribunal proceedings and before specialist regulatory tribunals – and frequently advises and represents on school admissions and exclusion/reinstatement appeals before independent panels. The team has an outstanding record in judicial review proceedings arising from decisions of local authorities or independent panels.

Issues with universities

We offer specialist legal advice in University Appeals, where a student may not have been treated fairly by their University or College.

We advise students through the internal University complaints procedure and then the Office of Independent Adjudicator (OIA). The OIA is able to recommend action which they that the University should take to correct the situation.

We act for students in a range of disputes such as differences over course work, plagiarism, complaints about staff, PhD supervision, fitness to practice and exclusion from the University.

If the above procedures cannot appropriately deal with complaints, we can offer advice in relation to breach of contract, as a contract exists between the University and student.


For help and advice please contact Tom Cox on +44 (0)3333 231 586 or email us.

Frequently asked questions

Whilst over 2 million children are entitled to free school meals everyday by way of food parcels during the pandemic, many concerns have been raised by parents, the Government and by celebrities and a sports star, Marcus Rashford, that some of the food parcels received by parents were just ‘not good enough’. Photos of food parcels […]

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The SEN statement is a legal document and is subject to an annual review. As a parent you should be involved in its preparation. The process can be complex and drawn out (which may add to the stress of the situation). Following a request, the local authority has 6 weeks to decide if they will […]

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Our barristers – or a referred solicitor we recommend – can assist you with initial liaison with the school to identify needs and obtain an individual education plan, requesting a statutory assessment, reviewing the statement of special educational needs through to representation at the tribunal appealing the refusal to provide a statement of special educational […]

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By 2018, between 3,000 and 4,700 appeals a year have been registered with the First-tier SEND Tribunal since the plans were introduced in 2014. While most appeals are conceded by the local authority or withdrawn, more than 80% of those decided by a tribunal are all (or in part) in favour of the child. It […]

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The tribunal can also hear cases concerning discrimination in schools, but is unable to make any awards of financial compensation. Claims concerning this must be brought within 6 months. Alternatively – and more commonly – you can pursue an action for damages via the County Court.

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There is now a national two-year trial until April 2020 and presently the gateway to an appeal can only be an educational issue. The trial gives tribunals the power to make recommendations on the health and social care elements but there are doubts about whether the tribunals are equipped to deal with these elements, as […]

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Councils are drawing up thousands of new education, health and care plans (EHCPs) a year – 36,000 in 2016-17 and were supposed to have moved the existing SEN statements of around 237,000 children into the new plans, which involves conducting the same needs assessment. Some councils clearly just ‘tipped’ statements into plans in their rush […]

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The purpose of extending EHCPs from the age of 19 to 25 is to avoid young people being abandoned after school with no prospects or development plan. Some local authorities cease supporting young people once they finish school, arguing they will no longer benefit from an educational programme. EHCPs which are done properly are undoubtedly […]

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Yes, this is particularly important in transition years post-16 and post-19. The DfE is reviewing its guidance after a report by Contact, the charity for families with disabled children, found that half of local school transport polices in England included unlawful statements. The duties of councils in this priority area are significantly underfunded.

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You have to consider mediation before they can appeal to a tribunal. But approaches can be inconsistent and depend on the local authority representative having the power to make decisions. Parents are often asked to negotiate or mediate away their children’s rights – with councils trading hours a week or month of speech and language […]

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Chat to one of the 3PB team online

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How to instruct a barrister

Our experienced team of specially-trained clerks make instructing a 3PB Direct barrister simple. Watch our video for a step-by-step guide on how to work with us to achieve a resolution to your legal issue.

We’ll be here every step of the way to support and guide you through the legal challenges at hand.

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Education Barristers


John Friel

Lawyer since 1974

Katherine Anderson

Lawyer since 2005

Aimee Fox

Lawyer since 2007

Jennifer Agyekum

Lawyer since 2009

Emma Waldron

Lawyer since 2011

Alice de Coverley

Lawyer since 2014

Matthew Wyard

Lawyer since 2014

Jim Hirschmann

Lawyer since 2018