City Uni offers school exclusions advice

City University and 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square have launched a School Exclusions Project to provide pro bono ­representation to parents of children who have been permanently excluded from school.

The project was originally proposed by City senior law lecturer Dan Wilsher during a lecture on pro bono work. Tom Ogg, a ­student on the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) at City, said he leapt at the chance to get involved.

“I’ve previously worked with excluded children and I thought it was a great idea,” he said. “It allows children a fair hearing and gives those who don’t have the resources to put forward their case articulately.”

Ogg and Wisher set up the project with 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square barristers Sarah ­Hannett and Anna Bicarregui, who provide support to the 27 student representatives who have already handled half a dozen cases.

Ogg said the experience had been ­invaluable for City students. “It’s very ­challenging and ­provides great training in hardcore advocacy,” he said. “Where else would you have the opportunity to cross-examine a head teacher?”

After acting on a special educational needs case, Ogg was hooked. “I was the most sure then that I’ve ever been that I wanted to do adversarial litigation. It really teaches you how to prepare before a hearing and how to cross-examine,” he said.

At a time when the legal aid budget is being slashed, Ogg said it was “important for the legal profession to make available as many pro bono routes as possible”.