Implications of the Human Rights Act (1998) for schools
The Human Rights Act 1998 finally came into operation on 2 October 2000 for all jurisdictions of the United Kingdom. The Act, which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into the UK’s domestic laws, means that it will be unlawful for public authorities, which includes the DfEE and LEAs, to act in a way which is incompatible with the fundamental human rights set out in the Convention (found in Schedule 1 to the HRA). Bodies such as schools and their governing bodies, whose functions are of a public nature, are also covered by the legislation. The articles of the Act which have a particular relevance for schools and education are identified. It is probable that pupils and their legal advisers will invoke the Act in disputes over a wide range of educational issues, for example, bullying, exclusions and suspensions. Some of these issues are examined and where possible existing European human rights case law is cited. It is likely that the HRA will create interesting legal challenges involving schools and education, some of which cannot be anticipated at the moment, and that the Act will cause changes to education laws and schools’ regulatory procedures .