rights in the classroom
Some international human rights have found their way into Scots law.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child says that the best interests of children are to be a primary consideration. This is now reflected in the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. The UN Convention also says that children's own views should be given due weight and consideration. This rule can now be found in both the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 and the Standards in Scotland's Schools etc. Act 2000. Also in the 2000 Act is a provision that education should be directed to the development of each child's personality, talents and physical and mental abilities to their fullest potential. This, too, is taken from the UN Convention.
The most part of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) is now part of Scots law, since the coming into force of the Human Rights Act 1998.
Acts of the Scottish Parliament (such as the Standards in Scotland's Schools etc. Act 2000) are only valid insofar as they are compatible with the ECHR. [This is due to the Scotland Act, not the Human Rights Act].
It is unlawful for a "public authority" (such as an Education Authority) to act in a way which is incompatible with Convention rights.
If a Convention right has been breached, the victim can bring legal action against the authority, or raise the point in an existing court action between the two.
The court or tribunal can give any remedy within its powers as it considers just and appropriate (including compensation).
The State must respect the right of parents to ensure that their child's education conforms with their religious and philosophical convictions. This latter provision is accepted by the UK only insofar as is compatible with the provision of efficient instructions and training and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure.
Disciplinary measures or punishments must not amount to inhuman or degrading treatment.
Disciplinary measures must not conflict with the parents' religious or philosophical beliefs.
Disciplinary measures must not interfere with a child's right to liberty (e.g. compulsory detention).
Disciplinary measures must not interfere with a child's right to peaceful possession of property (e.g. confiscated items should usually be returned).
Disciplinary measures must not have a discriminatory effect.
If it is arguable that a disciplinary measure would breach a child's Convention rights, there should be an opportunity to challenge the punishment.
© Education Law Unit