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Diploma in Education Law

Start Date
Friday 1 November 2024 at 10:00 AM
Two 2,500-word written assignments.
Delivery Method
Block placement Friday and Saturday sessions (to coincide with periods of school leave) with some evening lectures online.
CPD Hours
The number of hours of CPD that you may claim in relation to this course will depend on the way in which you access each of the individual sessions.  For further information and the booklet, see CPD scheme.
Course Leader
Geraldine Rafferty, Course Leader: G.Rafferty@LawSociety.ie

Short video testimonial

Application information

The closing date for applications is 18 October 2024. To apply, please follow the instructions below. 

Solicitors and Trainees

To pay online click on the 'Register Now' button. For all other methods of payment including, draft, cheque and EFT please see our methods of payment .

Other Professionals

We welcome applications for this course from suitably qualified professionals. Your application must be approved before you can formally register on the course. To apply please email the following documents to diplomateam@lawsociety.ie :

  1. A completed application form (see below)
  2. Your Curriculum Vitae
  3. A short cover letter setting out your relevant experience

Please note, for non-members this course is subject to a supplemental fee of €335 bringing the total course fee to €2,995. No fees are required prior to approval.


Further information on this course including course structure, module scheme, faculty and workshop dates are set out below. Clicking on the links will bring you directly to that section or simply scroll through to read all the content.

If you are interested in applying for a future offering of the course please register for our Interested List . 

Programme objectives

On completion of this training programme, participants will have:

  • An excellent understanding of the key employment law issues relevant to the school setting;
  • An understanding of school structures and governance arrangements;
  • A thorough knowledge of admissions policies and student conduct issues;
  • Knowledge of the legal issues relating to special educational needs;
  • Familiarity with key considerations regarding negligence and litigation management;
  • A thorough knowledge of child protection issues; and
  • An understanding of matters relevant to higher, further, and adult education.

Programme structure and approach to learning

Now in its eighth year, this highly regarded advanced-level diploma provides participants with a comprehensive understanding of the complex legal topics that arise when advising on education law matters. The practice of education law encompasses a diverse range of potential practice areas, including employment law, equality law, conflict resolution, corporate governance, child protection, and litigation. Added to this complexity of potential legal issues is the fact that, in order to provide effective and informed solutions, those advising in education law disputes also need to understand the governance and decision-making structures that apply within a particular school. 

This course begins with a general introduction to the often fascinating development of education law in Ireland, considering key constitutional and legislative provisions, before reflecting in more detail on the specific day-to-day issues that arise when advising on education law matters or, indeed, when acting as a decision-maker within a school.

The course is designed to be as accessible as possible, with key sessions taking place during standard school holidays and all lectures webcast and accessible “live” or in playback format. 


The programme is based on the following module scheme and covers key themes as listed below:

Module 1: Employment law in the school context – part 1

  • Recruitment of staff; status of workers,
  • The contract of employment and understanding Contracts of Indefinite Duration (CIDs),
  • Grievance and disciplinary procedures,
  • Termination of employment and unfair dismissals,
  • The Teaching Council, registration, and “fitness to teach” – part 5 of the Teaching Council Acts 2001-2021.

Module 2: Employment law in the school context – part 2

  • Promotion of staff and appointment procedures for principals,
  • Equality in the workplace,
  • Managing bullying and harassment within schools,
  • The application of the Transfer of Undertaking Regulations in the school context.

Module 3: Admissions policies and student conduct

  • Admission, enrolment policies, and equality provisions,
  • Codes of behaviour and school disciplinary procedures,
  • Peer-to-peer bullying and student use of social media,
  • Managing parental complaints.

Module 4: School structures and governance

  • Legislative framework – the Education Act 1988 and amending legislation,
  • Structure and role of boards of management,
  • The role of principals and teachers,
  • Financial management,
  • The inspectorate.

Module 5: Negligence and litigation management

  • The duty of care in the school context,
  • The standard of care,
  • When the duty of care arises and the “boundaries” of the school,
  • Sporting activities organised by schools,
  • Teacher negligence and contributory negligence of children,
  • Degree of supervision and student maturity,
  • Liability of the school authority. 

Module 6: Providing for special educational needs

  • Constitutional considerations and legislative provisions,
  • School policies and procedures for special educational needs,
  • Roles and functions of boards of management and principals,
  • The examination and assessment process,
  • Equality law provisions, with a focus on disability discrimination. 

Module 7: Compliance matters and miscellaneous provisions

  • Freedom of information and data protection concerns relevant to schools,
  • Child protection obligations and the role of the designated liaison person,
  • The Protected Disclosures Act 2014 as amended,
  • Participating in case conferences – best practice,
  • Tusla reporting requirements,
  • Health and safety provisions.

Module 8: Higher, further, and adult education

  • Governance structures at third level,
  • Student conduct issues,
  • Issues relevant to international students.
  • The examination process and managing plagiarism.


Workshops are a key feature of this course. These are designed to be interactive and involve working in groups on selected case-study problems and analysis, with an emphasis on the application of the law to common scenarios encountered in practice. Workshop dates are as follows:

1Employment and equality law issues relevant in the school context. 


2School structures and governance; litigation management; and providing for special education needs. tbc
3Full course review 1 tbc


Two 2,500 word written assignments.

Who should attend?

This course is suitable for the following:

  • Solicitors, barristers, and trainees who advise or wish to advise on education law matters, and
  • Key stakeholders and decision-makers within the education setting, including school principals, teachers, management organisations, trade unions, and staff associations. 

We welcome applications for this course from suitably qualified non-members. Please explain your interest and set out any relevant experience in a cover letter and a brief CV. Such applications are subject to a supplemental fee of €335. 

Hear from our graduates

Diarmuid Hennessy

“Given the increasing and ever evolving broad-ranging legislative and regulatory requirements in the area of education, the Diploma in Education Law has assisted with providing a clearer rationale and greater appreciation of the important legal context upon which they are based. Engaging lectures, the examination of relevant case law, and the collective scrutiny of related case studies with my fellow course participants has ensured an enjoyable, worthwhile and invaluable learning opportunity that continues to be of great assistance in my daily work.

Diarmuid Hennessy, Primary School Principal


Lecturers and tutors will be drawn from experienced practitioners in the field of education law. Previous lecturers have included:

  • Eileen Flynn BL, 
  • Edel Kennedy, University Solicitor, University College Cork,
  • Catherine Kelly, Partner, Mason Hayes & Curran,
  • Paul McDonald, Principal, AJP McDonald Solicitors,
  • Ian O’Herlihy, Former Head of Education at, Mason Hayes & Curran,
  • Liam Riordan, Partner, Mason Hayes & Curran,
  • David Ruddy BL, Consultant, Mason Hayes & Curran,
  • Johanne Duignan, Solicitor,  Ledwith Solicitors,
  • Madeline Thornton, Solicitor, Emma Coffey Solicitors,
  • Sarah Jane Judge BL,
  • Wendy Doyle, Principal, Wendy Doyle Solicitors,
  • Michael, Cahill, Senior Associate, Philip Lee,
  • Ciaran Doherty BL,
  • Lorcan Maule, Associate, Mason Hayes & Curran,
  • Brian M Matthews, Partner, Millett and Matthews LLP.


We have designed our courses to enable you to satisfy as much of your CPD requirement as possible. Time spent attending lectures and workshops in person or completing these via e-learning as part of your course can be claimed towards your annual CPD requirement. The number of hours of CPD that you may claim in relation to your diploma/certificate course will depend on the way in which you access each of the individual sessions. For further information, visit the CPD scheme  and download the CPD booklet. 

The Diploma Centre team will host our annual CPD conference in November 2024. This complimentary event is a dedicated professional development and solicitor wellbeing and client care and professional standards session. We will post an invitation on your Diploma Hub page later in the year. 


Geraldine Rafferty,  Course Leader: G.Rafferty@LawSociety.ie

*Every effort has been made to ensure the information contained in these pages is accurate and up to date. However timetables and course content are subject to change and date and time changes may occur due to factors beyond our control.

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