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Narrow the odds in the legal lottery

The Head's Legal Guide plus CD-Rom

Croner pound;358.66 plus VAT and pp initial purchase, then pound;326.79 plus VAT and pp

Croner-i Education

Croner pound;795 plus VAT

Tel: 020 8247 1576.

Management of Health, Pupils and Staff in Schools: Quick Guide CD-Rom Quick Guide Publications, pound;88 a year inc VAT

Tel: 01332 869 240

Butterworths Education Law Manual

Tottel Publishing pound;144, including the one volume loose-leaf and the first year's subscription (two updates a year)

Tel: 01444 416119

Running a School 2004-05: legal duties and responsibilities

By Richard Gold, Nick Evans and Dena Coleman

Jordans pound;39 inc pp

Law of Education

By Oliver Hyams

Jordans pound;95 inc pp

Tel: 0117 923 0600

How to Win Your School Appeal

By Ben Rooney

A C Black pound;8.99

Teachers are far more interested in teaching and learning than the legal niceties of their profession. By and large they get by without encountering serious legal problems, even though neither teacher training nor the national professional qualification for headship have much legal content.

When they become heads and walk into the legal minefield, they need all the help they can get.

Most schools have traditionally subscribed to Croner's The Head's Legal Guide, with its comprehensive termly updates on all aspects of law and regulations relevant to schools. Croner also publishes a series of companion manuals, such as The School Governor's Manual and The Teacher's Legal Guide. In 2005 Croner launched an internet service, Croner-i Education, which effectively turns The Head's Legal Guide into a daily service.

An increasing number of schools also subscribe to the school management CD-Rom from Quick Guide Publications, which gives bullet-point summaries of the law concerning schools and colleges and also includes helpful templates for policies and procedures. The CD, reissued twice to subscribers, is accompanied by a booklet, Quick Update, summarising the laws and court decisions of the previous six months. QGP also publishes The Teacher's Little Pocket Book (pound;6.99), which gives invaluable aid to teachers in keeping abreast of changes to their profession.

A few schools take The Butterworths Education Law Manual, now published by Tottel Publishing in loose-leaf form, with two updates a year. It is aimed primarily at lawyers and local authority officers, but its style is easily accessible to the layperson. It covers the law and regulations for further and higher education as well as for schools, with a strong section on education law affecting independent schools.

A growing favourite is Running a School, co-authored by lawyers and a headteacher. While covering all the legal aspects of school management, it concentrates on those aspects of immediate concern to school managers and governors. The 2004-05 edition contains sections on the national workload agreement, changes to the inspection system, the Freedom of Information Act, as well as updates on recent decisions in negligence cases and a consideration of the implications for schools of the new disputes and complaints procedures and anti-discrimination regulations. Heads will be particularly interested in the consideration of the pitfalls of the exclusion process.

The authors have eschewed footnotes but added an excellent index, essential in a good law book. The only drawback - which bedevils all such books - is that it is out of date as soon as it is published. Thus the very useful section on school uniform was overtaken in early March by the Court of Appeal decision in the Shabila Begum case on the wearing of the jilbab. But Running a School remains useful because it concentrates on the general principles and implications for schools. It is a book for school leaders, whereas Oliver Hyams' Law of Education is a book for lawyers, written by an eminent lawyer and legal specialists.

It covers comprehensively the law of education, rather than all the other laws that affect schools. Education law is summarised clearly and authoritatively, with copious cross-references and footnotes. A head wanting to understand the extraordinary complexities of the profession could do no better than dip into it. The book contains large sections on further and higher education as well as schools, hence the steep price of pound;95.

At the other end of the scale at pound;9.99 is a delightful little handbook, How to Win Your School Appeal. Its very existence is a comment on the ludicrously arcane pupil admission procedures. Ben Rooney's avowed intent is to help other parents beat the system, as he did. Schools would do well to buy copies for the school presenting officer and all the appeal panel members. If they take note of the clear exposition of the admissions lottery they may avoid the errors for which the Ombudsman has berated schools over the past three years.

Chris Lowe is legal adviser to the Secondary Heads Association

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