My Specialisms, Experience and Qualifications
Russell possesses a wealth of knowledge and deep enthusiasm for various facets of education law. Notably, he recently completed a secondment within the education division of a prominent law firm, where he honed his expertise in offering specialized guidance to multi academy trusts, maintained schools, and local authorities on a wide range of issues. Furthermore, Russell maintains an ongoing advisory role with a substantial multi academy trust, offering legal counsel on diverse matters.
Beyond his legal career, Russell's commitment to education is evident in his four-year tenure as a Governor at a Further Education College, where he held a significant role in safeguarding. Additionally, he has served as an elected Councillor since 2007, including several years as the chair of the education committee. Notably, Russell actively contributed to task groups dedicated to assessing the educational needs of looked after children and those with special educational needs. In 2019, he assumed the position of Cabinet Member responsible for education and skills.
Russell's extensive experience in managing multi academy trusts is particularly noteworthy. He led the legal team responsible for orchestrating the rebrokerage of a struggling multi academy trust. This intricate process encompassed providing direct guidance on matters such as TUPE, transfer agreements, property concerns, corporate governance issues, and various employment-related matters. His successful outcomes in this area have subsequently earned him roles in handling similar challenging rebrokerage situations, often involving collaboration with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). Russell has also played a pivotal role in numerous academy conversions, offering comprehensive legal advice throughout the conversion process.
Russell boasts extensive experience in the field of special educational needs and disability law. He has a substantial track record of appearances in various judicial bodies, including the First Tier Tribunal, Upper Tribunal, and a noteworthy case as sole Counsel in the Court of Appeal. This particular case revolved around clarifying the relationship between the jurisdiction of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal and issues concerning school transport. Russell's expertise also extends to matters involving refusals to assess, the formulation of Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs), and the discontinuation of EHCPs.
In addition to his litigation work, Russell has been a valuable source of guidance for schools on all aspects of disability discrimination law. His counsel has covered a wide range of scenarios, including school discipline, school outings, and complaints, and he has also represented clients in the First Tier Tribunal. Moreover, Russell has conducted numerous training sessions for schools, with a particular emphasis on disability discrimination law, especially in the context of exclusions.
Russell's background in employment law is robust, with a substantial record of appearances in various Tribunals, including the Employment Appeal Tribunal. In recent times, his focus has shifted toward providing comprehensive advice on general employment issues, including matters specific to the education sector. This encompasses assistance with sensitive concerns related to safeguarding, suspension, as well as routine employment law matters. He has also offered representation in cases before the Teacher Regulation Agency.
Russell's wide-ranging expertise extends to his involvement in exclusion matters, where he has aided both parents and schools. He has participated in meetings of school Governors to deliberate on exclusion cases and has served on Independent Review Panels. Furthermore, he has conducted training sessions for Local Authorities, providing instruction to panel members of Independent Review Panels and offering guidance on admissions procedures.
In his role collaborating with schools, Russell played a pivotal role in assisting them in preparing for and implementing General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance. His contributions in this realm extended to conducting multiple training sessions, which garnered recognition and invitations to speak at national events and conferences. Additionally, he was an integral part of a Department for Education (DfE) task group that played a key role in shaping GDPR guidance. Russell continues to provide regular advice to schools on GDPR-related matters.
His recent work highlights include:
- Offering guidance in a judicial review case involving the regulations governing the conduct of statutory assessments.
- Providing legal representation in a case where a child faced multiple exclusions and allegations of disability discrimination.
- Handling Upper Tribunal cases that explored the intersection between special educational needs and family law issues.
- Offering comprehensive advice and representation across all aspects of appeals brought before the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.
- Providing counsel in relation to an appeal concerning grammar school admissions.
- Assisting a parent in resisting an appeal made by the Local Authority to the Upper Tribunal, with the appeal subsequently denied.