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Book reviews

17 October 16

Reviews of Education Law in Scotland (Scott); How to Talk to Your Kids About Separation (Docherty)

by Iain Nisbet, Jackie McRae (review editor: David J Dickson)

Education Law in Scotland

2nd edition

Janys M Scott QC

PUBLISHER: W GREEN
ISBN: 978-0414017320
PRICE: £125

In August this year I was conducting a hearing before the sheriff court in an education law matter. It gives some indication as to the status of this text that, despite its having only recently been published, the sheriff arrived on the bench with a copy of this book before once having been referred to it by either party’s solicitor. Furthermore, during submissions, discussions on judicial decisions were invariably accompanied by the question: “And what does Mrs Scott say about that?”

Of course, education law in Scotland is a niche area of practice and there is a dearth of clear judicial authority. This, however, only explains the need for a text of this sort, and takes nothing away from the job the author has done in delivering it.

It is fair to say that a second edition was long overdue. The first edition was published in 2002 while the Scottish Parliament was in its infancy. Since then, some major pieces of education legislation have been passed (and, in some cases, litigated on).

For example, the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Acts 2004 and 2009 replaced the special educational needs framework with a whole new system of additional support needs, including new dispute resolution mechanisms and introduced an Additional Support Needs Tribunal for Scotland. There have been several appeals to the Court of Session under this legislation, two iterations of the statutory code of practice, and numerous pieces of official guidance. This could have been the subject of a book on its own, but is dealt with here in detail and with confidence in just over 50 pages.

Other changes such as the replacement of school boards with parent councils, and the wholesale reform of the procedures for school closures and other changes, along with a general increase in the complexity in education law, has led to a second edition which is substantially larger than the last (more than 100 pages more). It retains the basic structure of the first edition, with an additional chapter on “Teachers” of particular interest to those advising schools (or indeed teachers), and covers employment, regulatory and contractual matters.

Whilst the text is undoubtedly a must for the specialist practitioner, the reality is that most users will be those who will have an occasional need for a text such as this – either for quick reference, or for more detailed input (as may be needed by the solicitor handed an unfamiliar case at the last minute). The areas of crossover are manifold: criminal lawyers may need to know about the offences committed by parents who do not ensure their child’s attendance at school; commercial lawyers may need to know about the consultation requirements which may arise from school building contracts; there is even a whole chapter dedicated to delictual liability in an education context. This book succeeds on that front. It is exceptionally well indexed, including a subject index at the rear and five tables of cases, statutes and statutory instruments at the front. It is well written, being both detailed and accessible for the generalist practitioner. It negotiates the complexities of inconsistent legislation or conflicting court decisions with confidence, and the author is not afraid to give an opinion on what the better interpretation may be.

Those advising in the education sector will already, no doubt, have a copy – but it is well worth its place on the bookshelf of any firm.

Iain Nisbet is an education law consultant, and consultant solicitor at Cairn Legal (www.cairnlegal.co.uk). He runs the Additional Support Needs Blog at www.additionalsupportneeds.co.uk

How to Talk to Your Kids About Separation

Scott Docherty

PUBLISHED BY THE AUTHOR (available on Amazon)
ISBN: 978-1512212495
PRICE: £6.57 (e-book: £3.12)

Every family law solicitor will have been asked by a client: “How do I talk to the kids about the separation?” Not every lawyer will feel confident about offering advice about what to say. And there is no one right way to communicate with every child or young person about such a momentous change in their lives.

CALM mediator Scott Docherty’s book is a “must read” for parents who are worried about the impact of their breakup on children. It puts the child’s perspective first and foremost, and focuses firmly on how parents can best support their children to cope with and adapt to the consequences of parental separation.

Based on sound research evidence, Docherty describes what information and support children and young people need when facing family breakdown, and gives clear and practical advice about what parents can do to nurture them during the process. He offers strategies for parents to manage their own anxiety and distress and, most importantly, he provides examples of what to say to children to open up good communication and provide reassurance.

Docherty writes with warmth and humour and, born out of many years’ experience, his advice is authoritative and accessible. Written primarily for parents, this small book should be on every family lawyer’s bookshelf.

Jackie McRae, solicitor and mediator

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Scott Docherty

Friday October 21, 2016, 22:01

Many thanks for this wonderful review Jackie, very much appreciated!