Legal Update for Schools' 2020

Legal Update for Schools' 2020

Due to the current situation with Coronavirus/Covid-19, this event has been postponed until Autumn 2020. If you'd like to be notified when the new date is confirmed, please email

This event is brought to you by Legal Island, in association with NAPD and Mason Hayes & Curran.

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 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 2020.

In addition to those three interactive legal sessions, we have a special afternoon session focussing on research in the school sector in Ireland into major issues affecting every school in Ireland.

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.

Course overview/outline programme

In the morning we have three sessions delivered by the legal team from Mason Hayes & Curran:

  • MHC’s Schools' Employment Law Update, covering issues, such as

-       Disability and Reasonable Accommodation;

-       Disciplining a teacher in relation to alleged emotional abuse; and

-       Managing long term absence

  • MHC’s Schools’ Education Law Round-up covering issues, such as

-       Managing Drugs in School;

-       The Student and Parent Charter Bill; and

-       Pupils with Autism/ADHD/ODD/EBD

  • MHC’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).

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

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 and Depression 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 Adult identifies factors that enhance a young people’s wellbeing and also identifies ways to support our young people. 

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.

Where and when?
9:15am - 3:30pm, Autumn 2020
Radisson Blu Hotel, Dublin Airport


Standard Rate: €245

In association with:






Welcome and Introduction: Tim Geraghty, National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD)


MHC’s Schools' Employment Law Update: 2019/20 has seen the development of many new laws relating to employment, several through case law decisions of our superior courts, including the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. Some of the best-known cases involve schools - Liam Riordan and Paul Rochford from Mason Hayes & Curran explain what they mean for schools as employers in Ireland, in particular;    

  • Disability and Reasonable Accommodation: Nano Nagle School v Daly
  • Disciplining a teacher in relation to alleged emotional abuse: Sheehy v Board of Management of Killaloe Convent Primary School
  • Managing long term absence: A Teacher V A Community School
  • Recent Unfair Dismissal decisions from the WRC
  • Managing Ancillary Staff

Takeaway: Liam Riordan and Paul Rochford, Mason Hayes & Curran 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.


Networking & Break


MHC’s Schools’ Education Law Round-up

Ian O'Herlihy and Catherine Kelly, Mason Hayes & Curran run through key education law issues that impact on most schools in Ireland, including:

  • Managing Drugs in School. Recent High Court and Court of Appeal decisions in relation to drug related expulsions.  
    • Equal Status Act: Managing alleged discrimination complaints particularly in relation to gender, family status and disability and recent WRC decisions.
    • 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.
    • Pupils with Autism/ADHD/ODD/EBD: Update in relation to recent Section 29 Decisions.  

Takeaway: Ian O'Herlihy and Catherine Kelly, Mason Hayes & Curran provide detailed notes and a checklist of recommendations to help keep you up to date with education law developments. This session includes 15 minutes for Q&A.



MHC’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 session, David Ruddy and Fiona Sheil, Mason Hayes & Curran, consider these technology-related issues in Ireland’s schools:

  • Social Media and School Events.
    • 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?
    • Dealing with a DSAR: What information is not covered?

Takeaway: Learn the answers to the above questions via group exercises and discussion. David Ruddy and Fiona Sheil, Mason Hayes & Curran provide written answers to takeaway and read after the event.


Panel Discussion: We end the morning sessions with a panel Q&A session with all of the Mason Hayes & Curran presenters.


Networking & Lunch


Anxiety, Depression, Gender Issues and Social Media 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, clinical psychologist, psychotherapist and lecturer with DCU School of Nursing, Psychotherapy and Community Health 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, offers her insight.

Takeaway: Following short presentations on the above findings, we shall hold a panel discussion and Q&A session, chaired by Catherine Kelly, Senior Associate, Mason Hayes & Curran.




"Excellent day. Well structured and organised. Engaging speakers."
Deirdre Hickey, Deputy Principal, Mount Sackville Secondary School

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


  • Tim Geraghty
    Tim Geraghty

    Having graduated from UCD with an Honours BA in Latin and English, Tim completed his Higher Diploma in Education while teaching in Maryfield College, Glandore Road. He taught in CBS Arklow and in Coláiste Choilm, Swords. He completed the Diploma in Careers Guidance (UCD) and the Diploma in Computers in Education (TCD). He was appointed as Careers Guidance Counsellor in St Tiernan’s Community School in 1982, Vice Principal in 1985 and Principal in 1997. During his time in St Tiernan’s he also taught ICT part-time in Dublin City University. Recently, he served a three-year term as Chair of the inaugural Consultative Forum on Special Education Needs. 

  • Ian O’Herlihy
    Ian O’Herlihy Head of Education and The Employment Law & Benefits Group
    Mason Hayes & Curran

    Ian is Head of MHC Employment Law & Benefits Group and Education Units. Ian has over 20 years’ experience specialising in both contentious and non-contentious employment law issues in the education and healthcare sectors and has been involved in almost all the leading education employment cases in recent years. He advises a broad range of clients on drafting and reviewing workplace procedure and employment contracts, on dealings with trade unions and professional organisations and advises widely on investigation of complaints and the conduct of disciplinary investigations and hearings.

  • Paul Rochford
    Paul Rochford Senior Associate
    Mason Hayes & Curran

    As a member of the Education Unit of the Employment Law and Benefits Team at Mason Hayes & Curran, Paul advises on all aspects of contentious and non-contentious education and employment law including unfair dismissal, equality, bullying and harassment, data protection and GDPR, and internal disciplinary procedures. Paul regularly appears before the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court on a variety of issues, particularly unfair and constructive dismissal and equality and discrimination based complaints.

  • Catherine Kelly
    Catherine Kelly Senior Associate
    Mason Hayes & Curran

    Catherine is a Senior Associate in the Employment Law & Benefits Department at Mason Hayes & Curran, dealing in particular with Education Law.

    She is involved in all aspects of contentious and non-contentious employment and education law and is regularly involved in all related civil actions including injunctions, actions for breach of contract, employer liability claims and personal injury actions for stress and bullying.

  • Liam Riordan
    Liam Riordan Partner
    Mason Hayes & Curran

    Liam is a Partner in the Education Unit of the Employment Law & Benefits Group. Liam practices in the area of education law. He has extensive experience in advising first, second and third level educational institutions on the wide range of issues that arise from the day to day interaction of teachers, students, parents and management. Liam has represented Boards of Management at the Employment Appeals Tribunal, the Labour Court, the Labour Relations Commission and the Equality Tribunal as well as in the civil courts up to and including the Supreme Court.

  • David Ruddy
    David Ruddy Training Consultant
    Mason Hayes Curran

    David Ruddy BL is a former school principal and recent President of IPPN. He writes a legal diary for both the IPPN and NAPd Leadership journals. David currently works with Mason Hayes Curran solicitors, education division as a training consultant for schools.

  • Fiona Sheil
    Fiona Sheil Associate
    Mason Hayes Curran

    Fiona is an associate with Mason Hayes and Curran's Employment & Benefits team. She advises on all aspects of contentious and non-contentious employment and education law.

    Fiona regularly reviews company policies and procedures and advises on disciplinary, dismissal and redundancy matters.  Fiona represents clients before the Workplace Relations Commission and the Civil Courts on a broad range of employment issues.

  • Dr Rosaleen McElvaney
    Dr Rosaleen McElvaney Assistant Professor in Psychotherapy
    Dublin City University

    Rosaleen is an Assistant Professor in Psychotherapy and Associate Dean of International Affairs for the Faculty of Science and Health at Dublin City University. She is a chartered clinical psychologist (PSI) and accredited psychotherapist (IAHIP) 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 Psychology
    University College Dublin

    Amanda completed her PhD in NUI Galway in 2010. Her PhD investigated psychological and social factors predicting children's and adolescents' food choices. Amanda joined the Health Promotion Research Centre, NUI Galway to work on the cross-national Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey 2010. Following this, Amanda joined UCD School of Psychology as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Youth Mental Health to work on the My World Survey, the largest national study on risk and protective factors of youth mental health with over 14,000 young people aged 12-25 years. This research was conducted in conjunction with Dr. Barbara Dooley and Jigsaw- The National Centre for Youth Mental Health.

    Amanda has been awarded two Royal Irish Academy mobility grants in 2012 and 2013 to visit research centres of excellence in her field including Stanford University School of Medicine and Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, University of Melbourne. Amanda was awarded the Eadbhard O' Callaghan Annual Youth Mental Health Prize in 2012.

Event details


9.15am - 3.30pm


01 April 2020


Radisson Blu Hotel, Dublin Airport


Standard Rate: €245