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 :
- 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 documentation (see Matthew’s public & regulatory CV).
A Local Authority v GP17th Nov 2020
3PB's specialist regulatory law barrister Matthew Wyard reviews the case of A Local Authority v GP (Capacity – care, support and education)  EWCOP 56.
The Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018: An update4th Nov 2020
Public law barrister Matthew Wyard, who specialises in the education sector reviews the hidden extras in ‘The Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 (Commencement No.1) Order 2020 which came into force this Monday 2 November.
GCSE results 2020: Key Q&As for Students and Schools20th Aug 2020
3PB’s specialist education barristers Alice de Coverley and Matthew Wyard have co-authored a two-part report, for students and schools separately, about today’s GCSE results day (20 August 2020).
The guidance offers tips for students and their parents about the GCSE grade that students will receive; the appeals process in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; Exam results Helplines available; Subject Access Requests for finding out information to support you in pushing for an appeal; grounds for appeals; Centres’ duties to students/learners.
A-Level results: Key Q&As for Students and Schools13th Aug 2020
In this article, Alice de Coverley and Matthew Wyard answer some of the most significant questions facing both students and schools on A-level results day 2020, providing practical advice on what to do next.
A look at the draft Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill: Problems and pitfalls8th Jul 2020
3PB’s specialist public law barrister Matthew Wyard has reviewed the draft Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) bill. The bill was introduced to the Senedd on 6 July 2020 without prior public consultation.
Practical guidance on video hearings in the SENDIST12th May 2020
Matthew Wyard and Alice de Coverley have produced a guide to remote hearings in SENDIST including practical top tips for both practitioners and witnesses. They cover topics from using technology to adapting your approach to this new style of hearing.
From absolute statutory duty to reasonable endeavours: the consequences of modifying section 42 of the Children and Families Act 201412th May 2020
Matthew Wyard considers the meaning of "reasonable endeavours" in public and private law following the modification of the LA's duty to secure special educational provision specified in an EHC Plan under section 42 to a reasonable endeavours duty, and the likely approach of the Administrative Court to applications to enforce provision in Section F via judicial review.
Education: The Impact of the Coronavirus Bill20th Mar 2020
Education law barrister, Matthew Wyard examines the impact of the Coronavirus Bill on the independent education sector.
Issuing an EHC Plan - the meaning of ‘necessary’ (Nottinghamshire County Council v SF and another)12th Mar 2020
Education and public law barrister Matthew Wyard and Paul Wyard of Sinclairslaw review Nottinghamshire CC v SF and another, a case in which the Court of Appeal held that the First-Tier Tribunal had correctly construed the meaning of ‘necessary’ in section 37(1) of the Children and Families Act 2014 (CFA 2014) in finding that it was necessary for special educational provision to be made for a child in accordance with an EHC Plan – even though the school had identified and made provisions for the child’s needs and the child was making progress at school.
This article was first published by LexisPSL on 9 March 2020.
"[...] the addition of Matthew Wyard to the team has given real fire power to their Court of Protection offering in Wales.'"
‘His in-depth knowledge of Welsh social care law is an advantage.’
Legal 500 2021/Court of Protection and Community Care/Rising Stars/Tier 1/Wales and Chester
"[...] 3PB's presence in this region comes in the form Matthew Wyard… He specialises in public law challenges in the education sector, civil claims against education institutions and special educational needs appeals."
‘One of very few barristers in the Country who has a true grasp of Welsh Education Law.’
Legal 500 2021/Education/Rising Stars/Tier 1/Wales and Chester
''I instruct Matthew regularly and am never disappointed by the level of professionalism and knowledge he brings to each case he is instructed on. Matthew has a unique way of identifying the key issues of a case and preparing submissions in a clear and persuasive manner, in order to achieve the best result possible. I can trust that he will always provide honest and efficient advice and am happy to have good working relationship with him.''
As you can imagine, it is extremely stressful for families to be going through this so I just wanted to say a big thank you for supporting me through [the] tribunal. I would recommend you to anyone going through similar proceedings. We are delighted with the outcome and have not stopped smiling since!
- 2014: Called to the Bar (Lincoln’s Inn)
- 2012 – 2013: Postgraduate Diploma in Law, City Law School
- 2008 – 2012: LL.B (Hons)(SW) Law, University of Surrey
- Erasmus Scholarship
- Blackstone Chambers BPTC Mooting Competition, Semi finalist, 2013
Professional qualifications & appointments
- Chair of the Valuation Tribunal for England
- Member of the Welsh Government Public Law Scheme
- Member of the Attorney General’s Junior Junior Panel
- Bar Professional Training Course, City Law School, 2012 – 2013
- Lincoln's Inn, Member
- Western Circuit, Member
- Education Law Association
Matthew Wyard is qualified to accept instructions directly from members of the public and professional clients under the Direct Public Access scheme.More Information