Managing legal issues in your school

How school leaders can navigate 4 key legal issues affecting every school

School law
masterclass series

Delivered on Zoom by Michael Waterhouse PSM – former General Counsel for the Department of Education – head of the Department’s Legal Services Directorate for 19 years. This unique, multi-part professional learning model allows you to discuss real world legal problems with your colleagues in other schools. You will take actions back to your school to implement and later get feedback on how those solutions worked and how to overcome any obstacles. This series recognises that effective professional learning is not just about receiving a one-off lecture. This model allows you to try your learning out in the real world.

Topic 1

Defamation, social media and schools

  • How will the recent 2021 High Court case about defamation and Facebook pages affect schools?
  • How do the new Defamation Act amendments that commenced in July 2021 affect schools?
  • How can school staff deal with being defamed on social media?
  • What are the pros and cons of taking legal action?
  • What legal and non-legal tools exist to manage social media in a civilised way?
  • How have other schools solved these issues?

Topic 2

Students and the law

  • What happens when a school student is accused of a crime?
  • Whose rights, and which rights, does a school need to protect?
  • Can a school take disciplinary action while police are investigating?
  • What obligations does a school have to report criminal activity that occurs at school?
  • How can schools support victims of crimes that have occurred at school?
  • What about the presumption of innocence and procedural fairness?
  • Can a school take disciplinary action relating to students’ online behaviour?

Topic 3

Family Law and the school

  • How will changes to the Family Law Act starting in September 2021 affect schools?
  • What obligations do schools have under the Family Law Act?
  • Who decides what happens to children’s education after thier parents’ marriage or partnership breaks down?
  • What are the new laws with respect to same sex marriage, adoption, and surrogacy?
  • How do schools deal with family conflicts that are brought to the school?
  • How do schools support students in such cases?
  • Can students attend school if they have left their family?

Topic 4

Evidence, record keeping and schools’ legal obligations

  • If schools have done the right thing legally, how do they prove it?
  • What happens when people take legal action against a school about events that happened years earlier?
  • Can teachers and school staff be required to give evidence in court?
  • How does a school handle a subpoena?
  • What mandatory record-keeping requirements are there?
  • How long do school records need to be kept?
  • What are the legislative requirements for privacy and security of school records about individuals?
  • What systems do schools need to have in place?


Claim 6 hours of Elective Professional Development meeting NESA’s standards focusing on:

  • Responsibility for implementing legislative requirements re student wellbeing and safety (standard 4.4.3)
  • Access to specialist knowledge on policy and legislation (standard 1.6.3)
  • Professional dialogue with colleagues – supporting review and interpretation of legislative, administrative requirements (standard 7.2.3)
  • Educational leadership – how to implement effective systems to manage the issues in schools including ethical and responsible use of ICT. (standard 4.5.3)
Who should take this course?
    • High School Principals
    • High School Deputy Principals
    • High School Executives and Managers
    • HIgh School Teachers and other staff acting in or aspiring to fill those roles

Each module comprises:

  • key legal principles, legislation and relevant recent legal cases
  • real world scenarios to workshop in small groups
  • action planning to take back to your school
  • review and feedback in later seminars of how your actions have worked, and how any obstacles can be overcome
  • Slide deck, references, scenarios and worksheets provided.


Series 1

Aug 14th, 21st, 28th, Sep 4th:  Wednesdays 9:30am – 11:00am (4 x 90 mins) via ZOOM. (Limit 20 participants)


Fees $699 +GST


Details Price Qty
Series 1show details + $699.00 (AUD)*  

* price does not include taxes

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