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Matthew Wyard has practised in the field of education law for 8 years and is recognised as a Rising Star in the education field in the Legal 500. He acts for parents of disabled children, young people, students, schools, colleges, universities, local authorities and anyone else involved in disputes within the education sector. Having spent a significant time practicing in Wales, Matthew is experienced in advising on the devolved education system.
A busy education law barrister, examples of Matthew’s caseload in education is set out below:
Special Educational Needs
Matthew is one of only a handful of barristers who has an understanding of, and experience in, both the English and Welsh special educational needs systems. Whilst almost all of Matthew’s special educational needs work is confidential, he has appeared in over 100 appeals/claims representing all parties in all types of appeal before SENDIST and SENTW. Additionally, Matthew has appeared in the Upper Tribunal and in judicial review challenges arising out of the special educational needs system.
Most recently, Matthew was instructed as junior counsel for the successful respondents in Nottinghamshire County Council v SF & GD  EWCA Civ 226, before the Court of Appeal, concerning the interpretation of “necessary” under section 37 of the Children and Families Act 2014 and to seek leave for appeal to the Court of Appeal following the decision in D v Hampshire County Council  EWHC 2916 (Admin).
He is an expert on the new special education needs system planned in Wales for 2021 and is undertaking training for Schools on the changes and demands of the new law.
Having worked in house he also has experience attending annual reviews, dispute resolution meetings and mediations.
Disability discrimination claims in the First Tier Tribunal are becoming increasingly common. Matthew regularly advises and represents schools defending such claims with a particular interest in defending independent schools and academies. He is familiar with all aspects of the Equality Act 2010 and is frequently instructed by leading insurance firms upon receipt of a claim to assist devise case strategy, advise on prospects, advise on evidence and then attend the final hearing. He has an enviable success rate and enjoys working with key stakeholders and responsible bodies to ensure that those claims that should be defended are done so thoroughly, whilst protecting reputational and other interests.
Judicial review challenges to legality of decisions made by Admissions Authorities, Independent Review Panels (England) and Independent Appeal Panels (Wales) are Matthew’s main area of focus in admissions and exclusion matters. That being said, Matthew is more than happy to assist at all stages of the admissions and exclusions processes.
Having spent his first few years working in-house in the public law and commercial litigation departments of a national public law firm, Matthew is well placed to advise from the outset on all forms of civil litigation in the education sector. An example of the claims Matthew has been instructed in recently include:
- SPS v Mr and Mrs P
Advising the respondents on the prospects of success in defending a claim for fees in lieu of notice including the detailed consideration of multiple breaches of contract from both parties to identify the fundamental breach of contract.
- N v University of E
Advising the prospective claimant on a claim for breach of contract arising from the failure of her university to secure social work placements.
- GY v University of O
Claim for breach of contract and/or negligence against the country’s leading higher education institution for a failure to remove the student from a PhD course when it became clear she could not succeed.
- MK v K College
Claim for negligence against a medical school for how it conducted a fitness to practise process, resulting in a six figure settlement for lost earnings.
- AS v K College
Claim for breach of contract against a London college for failing to appropriately deal with bullying.
- O University v JH
Defending a claim for unpaid university fees.
- Re: CN
Claim against an independent school for breach of contract and breach of the Equality Act 2010 in how it handled the exclusion of a child resulting in a five figure settlement.
Matthew is happy to be instructed as early as possible in all civil matters in order to assist manage expectations and develop the initial case strategy.
Education judicial review challenges
Matthew has depth of experience in education public law challenges. These have included:
- YMC v Office of Intercollegiate Studies
Representing the claimant in what is thought to be the first judicial review challenge brought against the Office of Intercollegiate Studies
- MA v B University
Advising on the grounds for judicial review arising from a university’s failure to grant extenuating circumstances
- JP v IAP
Advising on the legality of an Independent Admissions Panel decision
- AT v An Academy
Advising on the grounds of challenge to an Academy’s procedure for conducting a managed move which successfully settled at the pre action stage
- Re: DR
Advising on the merits of bringing a judicial review claim against a London Borough for maintaining a policy on not placing children below 16 in children’s homes.
- DJ v The Welsh Ministers & Ors  EWHC 2735 (Admin)
A challenge to the Welsh Ministers Guidance on post 16 education
- Thilakawardhana v OIA  EWCA Civ 13
Application for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal and the substantive appeal
- Zahid v University of Manchester  EWHC 188 (Admin)
Leading authority on the relationship between the courts and the OIA
- DS v Wolverhampton City Council  EWHC 1660 (Admin)
Considering the application of s19 Education Act 1996
- AC v OIA (unreported)
Considering the legality of the OIA’s rules
For more information please see his public law expertise section of his CV.
Matthew has experience advising schools and higher education institutions on a wide range of governance and employment issues including information law obligations. Additionally, he has drafted and advised upon various policies, procedures and contractual documents.