Schools’ Legal Update 2021

Schools’ Legal Update 2021

This event is brought to you by Legal Island, in association with NAPD.

It’s never been easy being a school leader and it’s not getting any easier. Not only do you face new rules and regulations in relation to education, you also have to be aware of employment and data protection law changes, best practice and be a people-manager to those inside and outside your school.

This online event combines those legal and practical aspects to bring you a complete update in one day on the key issues affecting the school sector in 2021.

Being online, it means you’ll have no travel time or costs AND you’ll receive a link to the video recordings of the presentations, which can be used for revision or in-school training sessions throughout the remainder of the academic year! 

After attending you will be better able to:

  • Implement any new changes or policies required by recent developments in Education, Employment and Data Protection Laws.
  • Understand the relevance of recent case law developments to your school and the work that you do.
  • Understand the complexity of childhood anxiety and mental health issues and what you can do to support our young people in schools

Course overview/outline programme

Morning Sessions

Leman Schools' Employment Law Update, covering issues, such as

  • Introduction of a Statutory Right to Request Remote Work and the National Remote Working Strategy
  • Disciplining a teacher in relation to alleged emotional abuse; and
  • Managing long term absence

Education Law Round-up with Dr Claire O’Connor BL, covering issues such as

  • Managing Drugs in School;
  • Exclusion & Autism
  • The Student and Parent Charter Bill

A&L Goodbody’s Schools’ Data Protection and Technology Round-up, covering issues, such as

  • Social Media and School Events; 
  • Covert recording of meetings;
  • and Dealing with a data subject access request (DSAR).

Plenty time will be allowed for specific Q&A sessions and the morning will end with a panel discussion on all the legal issues covered.

Afternoon Sessions

In the afternoon we will have presentations and panel discussions on research in Ireland into child protection and anxiety issues in both the primary and post-primary sectors from two leading academics from UCD and DCU:

  • Anxiety, Depression & Gender Issues in Primary Schools covers issues such as anxiety, depression, cyberbullying, self-harm and suicidal ideation in children
  • Anxiety, Gender and the Significant Role of One Good Adultâidentifies factors that enhance a young people’s wellbeing and also identifies ways to support our young people. 

Or ...

  • Choose to join the Data Protection Commission as they take you through lessons specifically designed to assist teachers help keep young people and their data safe online.

Who is it for?
Delivered by leading experts in their field, this full day conference is designed to cover key topics essential to the work of Principals, Deputies and members of Boards of Management in schools throughout Ireland.

Where and when?
This event will take place online on the Hopin platform between 9:15am - 3:30pm on Thursday 9 December.

Plus we’ll provide you with links to videos of all sessions, so you can use them for in-school training sessions or revision throughout the remainder of the academic year!


Standard Rate: €245 (see special offer below)

Special offer: Purchase one place for your school and you’ll get another one free for a colleague. Email with your colleague’s details after you’ve booked your place and we’ll do the rest.

More about our online events platform Hopin

This event will be hosted on a browser based platform named Hopin.  We have provided some information below to assist you when accessing the event:-

  • If you are using a Laptop. PC or Apple Mac please use Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox browsers
  • The latest version of Edge may be used as long as all recent updates have been made within the last 4 weeks
  • If you are using a mobile device then Safari is recommended for IOS and Google Chrome on Android

We understand that some IT policies may restrict the downloading of new browsers, please check and if this is the case you may have to use your own personal device to access the event.

If you would like further information regarding the above, please contact us at and we will be happy to discuss with you further.






Get to Know Us: Familiarise yourself with the functions of our online event to ensure you maximise return on your investment. Scott Alexander, Head of Learning & Development, Legal Island, welcomes delegates to our 2021 event.


Welcome and Introduction: Paul Crone, Director, National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD)

NOTE: all the following sessions are being recorded and delegates will be sent links after the event for all recordings, which can be viewed until the end of the academic year and used for revision or staff training purposes.


Leman Solicitor’s Schools' Employment Law Update

Recent months have seen the development of many new laws relating to employment, several through case law decisions of our superior courts. Some of the best-known cases involve schools and Partner and Head of Employment and Corporate Immigration at Leman Solicitor’s, Bláthnaid Evans, explains what they mean for schools as employers in Ireland. In particular, Bláthnaid will discuss:   

  • Disciplining a teacher in relation to alleged emotional abuse: Sheehy v Board of Management of Killaloe Convent Primary School
  • Managing long term absence
  • Prohibition on workers wearing any visible sign of political, philosophical or religious belief in the workplace: IX v WABE eV; MH Müller Handels GmbH v MJ
  • Introduction of a Statutory Right to Request Remote Work and the National Remote Working Strategy
  • New WRC Code of Practice on the Right to Disconnect
  • Gender Pay Gap Reporting
  • Workplace Bullying – Employer Responsibilities Under the New Unified Code

Takeaway: The employment team at Leman Solicitors provide detailed notes and a checklist of recommendations to help keep you up to date and out of the WRC. This session includes 15 minutes for Q&A.

NOTE: This session will consist of what our speaker considers to be the most important developments in employment law relevant to school leaders at December 2021 and may differ from the above topics.





A&L Goodbody’s Schools’ Data Protection and Technology Round-up:

Technology has many benefits in demagogy but many drawbacks when incorrectly used or when it interferes seemingly interferes with a school’s ability to properly teach or govern. In this interactive sessionDuncan Inverarity, Partner and Head of Employment Law Group, A&L Goodbody considers these technology-related issues in Ireland’s schools:
  • Social Media and School Events: What actions might be in breach of data protection rules?
    • Risks to Teachers and Pupil Safety: What is the law on passing information about pupils from school to school? How might schools manage where there may be competing rights, laws and duties of care?
    • Covert recording: What is the law in relation to recording of meetings, disciplinary or otherwise?
    • Dealing with a DSAR: What information is not covered by an employee’s or parent’s request for personal data held by your school?
    • Cyber-attack during School Breaks: Who does what if you’re not there when your website and systems are breached?

Takeaway: Learn the answers to the above questions via polls and discussion. A&L Goodbody provide written answers to takeaway and read after the event.


Comfort Break


Education Law Round-up

Dr Claire O’Connor BL, is recognised as one of Ireland’s leading barristers in the area of education law. In this session, Claire runs through key education law issues that impact on most schools in Ireland, including:

  • Exclusion and Autism: The Board of Management of a Special School -v- The Secretary General of the Department of Education and Skills & Ors [2021] IEHC 392
  • Managing Drugs in School. Recent High Court and Court of Appeal decisions in relation to drug related expulsions. 
    • The Student and Parent Charter Bill: The draft legislation reflects the Government’s commitment to introduce a stronger complaints procedure and charter for parents. Practical examples of the kind of aspirations and responsibilities that might be agreed by all ‘stakeholders’ in your school.
    • Leaving Cert Challenges: What does the case law mean for schools and future options? 

Takeaway: Dr Claire O’Connor BL provides detailed notes and a checklist of recommendations to help keep you up to date with education law developments at December 2021. This session includes 15 minutes for Q&A.



Panel Discussion: We end the morning sessions with a panel Q&A session with all of the presenters, starting with your education law queries for Dr Claire O’Connor BL.


Networking & Lunch


Introduction to the afternoon’s sessions. Choose to attend your preferred session.

NOTE: all sessions are being recorded and delegates will be sent links after the event for all recordings, which can be viewed until the end of the academic year and used for revision or staff training purposes, so you’ll not miss out, regardless of your afternoon choice at today’s event.


Choice One: Anxiety, Depression and Gender Issues in Schools.

We end the day by considering two academic studies into some rather disturbing pressures facing young people, in and out of schools:

Anxiety and Depression in Primary Schools.  The largest study ever of primary school principals in Ireland revealed that school staff are dealing with a range of significant mental health difficulties on a daily basis. Such difficulties range from anxiety, depression, cyberbullying, to self-harm and suicidal ideation in children of all ages. The online survey (n=1,282) and interviews with school principals (n=12) and school counsellors (n=9) found that family difficulties were a significant contributory factor to children's difficulties with psychological wellbeing.

Dr Rosaleen McElvaney, Principal Psychotherapist with Children's Health Ireland and Assistant Professor in Psychotherapy with Dublin City University discusses the findings of this study and how schools are responding to the mental health needs of children in primary schools in Ireland. 

Anxiety, Gender and the Significant Role of One Good Adult®. There has been a significant increase in levels of anxiety among young people according to My World Survey 2 (MWS-2), the largest ever study of Ireland’s youth mental health. The survey consulted with more than 19,000 young people across Ireland to build and improve our collective knowledge in the area of youth mental health. It shows that the proportion of adolescents (12 – 19 years) reporting severe anxiety has doubled from 11% to 22% in just 7 years. There have also been increases in levels of depression and decreases in levels of self-esteem, optimism and life-satisfaction. There has also been an increase in protective factors, most notably in family support or support from a significant adult. And there was also a decrease in the proportion of adolescents who reported being bullied and fewer adolescents reported having ever drank alcohol.

By taking a strengths-based approach to understanding protective factors related to youth mental health, we can identify factors that enhance a young people’s wellbeing and also identify ways to support our young people. So, what can we do to support our young people? How can we spot the signs earlier? Amanda Fitzgerald, Associate Professor, UCD, and co-founder the UCD School of Psychology Youth Mental Health lab @YMHlabUCD, offers her insight.

Takeaway: Following short presentations on the above findings, we shall hold a panel discussion and Q&A session.

Choice Two: Protecting Children’s Personal Data.

In 2019, the Data Protection Commission carried out an extensive public consultation on the processing of children’s personal data and the rights of children as data subjects under the GDPR.


The DPC also distributed a pack of lesson plan materials (attached in both English and Irish) aimed at young people aged 8 and up.

The lesson plan was designed to help teachers discuss data protection issues with their students and had a particular focus on data protection in the context of social media. It introduced students to “SquadShare”, a fictitious app created by the DPC for educational purposes, and encouraged them to explore their data protection rights while learning about the terms and conditions of this fictitious app. Students were then invited to give their answers to a series of six questions on feedback posters and return them to the DPC via email and post.

In this session, Jenny Dolan, Head of Children’s Policy at the DPC, shows delegates how the lessons work and how they can assist teachers to facilitate a discussion with young people about core data protection issues that will help protect them and safeguard their personal data, particularly online.

This session will last approximately 45minutes to 1 hour.










"Excellent day. Well structured and organised. Engaging speakers."
Deirdre Hickey

"Well organised with a clear focus for each topic covered."
David O'Connell, Principal, Ballinteer Community School


  • Paul Crone
    Paul Crone NAPD

    Paul Crone, Director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD), and formerly Principal of Old Bawn Community School, Tallaght and currently Director of Schools in City of Dublin ETB.

  • Bláthnaid Evans
    Bláthnaid Evans Partner & Head of Employment Practice

    Bláthnaid has extensive experience in all areas of employment law, having trained in one of the leading trade union / employee firms and subsequently working in a top 5 law firm.

    She advises on all contentious and non-contentious issues, with substantial experience in advising clients before all employment law forums including the WRC, Labour Court and High Court for employment-related injunctions.

  • Duncan Inverarity
    Duncan Inverarity Partner, Head of Employment Law Practice Group
    A&L Goodbody

    Duncan is Head of A&L Goodbody's Employment Law Group and has practiced exclusively in the area of employment law and industrial relations in multiple jurisdictions. Duncan advises public and private sector employers on both contentious and non-contentious matters. He advises Boardrooms across Ireland and abroad on strategic and complex employment and industrial relations matters. Duncan also specialises in crisis management for clients and has advised on some of the most high profile corporate issues in Ireland. Duncan regularly appears for clients in the Workplace Relations Commission, the Circuit Court, the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. Duncan also acts for partnerships in mediated settlements and in proceedings in the High Court.

  • Claire O'Connor BL
    Claire O'Connor BL BEd. (DCU), MEd. (UCD), ARIAM, DipLS, Barrister at Law, PhD (DCU)

    Claire O’Connor is a practising barrister for twelve years and specialises in the area of Law and Education.  Additionally, she lectures in the Honorable Society of Kings Inns on the Barrister-at-Law Degree Programme where she is also one of the course co-ordinators for the Advanced Diploma in Law and Education. Claire also serves as an elected member of Dublin City Council for the Pembroke area.

    In 2012 Claire completed her Ph.D. in the area of Constitutional Law for which she was awarded a Government of Ireland Scholarship.  Her thesis is entitled 'An examination of the constitutional, legal and policy position of parents as partners in primary education in Ireland'.  She holds the degree of Masters in Education from University College Dublin.  Claire has guest lectured in NUI Maynooth, Trinity College, Dublin City University, the Law Society and Griffith College.   She began her career as a primary teacher and taught for seven years in Ireland, Spain and Australia. 

  • Dr Rosaleen McElvaney
    Dr Rosaleen McElvaney Principal Psychotherapist and Assistant Professor
    Children's Health Ireland at Connolly

    Dr Rosaleen McElvaney, is a Principal Psychotherapist with Children's Health Ireland and Assistant Professor in Psychotherapy with Dublin City University School of Nursing, Psychotherapy and Community Health, with over 15 years' experience in the public health services in Ireland, mostly in services for children or adults who have experienced sexual abuse.

    Rosaleen has served on the Boards of Crime Victims Helpline, the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland and One in Four. Rosaleen is former president of the Psychological Society of Ireland and served as Chair of the European Federation of Psychologists' Associations (EFPA) Specialist European Awarding Committee for psychologists specialising in psychotherapy until 2018 when she took over the role of Chair of the European Awarding Committee for the EuroPsy certificate in psychology.
  • Dr Amanda Fitzgerald
    Dr Amanda Fitzgerald Associate Professor in Youth Mental Health
    University College Dublin

    Amanda Fitzgerald is an Associate Professor in University College Dublin School of Psychology. Amanda co-founded the UCD Youth Mental Health Lab in 2013. Amanda was postdoctoral researcher for My World Survey 1 (2012) and co-investigator for My World Survey 2 (2019), studying risk and protective factors of mental health among young people aged 12-25 years old. 

    She is a Board Member for Ireland’s leading youth information website and She is past Executive Member of the International Association for Youth Mental Health.

  • Jenny Dolan
    Jenny Dolan Assistant Commissioner - Children's Policy
    Data Protection Commission

    Jenny Dolan is Assistant Commissioner for Children's Policy at the Data Protection Commission. Over the last two years Jenny has led extensive public consultation on the processing of children’s personal data and the rights of children as data subjects under the GDPR. 

Event details


9.15am - 3.30pm


09 December 2021




Standard Rate: €245

Special offer: Purchase one place for your school and you’ll get another one free for a colleague. Email with your colleague’s details after you’ve booked your place and we’ll do the rest.