Profile submitted by Eva Akins
Eva Akins is Head of Education Law at Russell-Cooke LLP. Her work includes: special educational needs; Equality Act claims; admissions; exclusions; complaints; governance; negligence, child protection and breach of contract occurring in education settings from early years to higher education.
Eva specialises in championing the rights of disabled children including securing special educational provision and placements and robustly challenging disability discrimination by both maintained and independent schools. Eva secures placements at leading specialist independent schools as well as securing the naming of ordinary independent schools in Education Health and Care Plans. Eva adopts a robust approach to challenging unlawful acts and omissions by local authorities by way of complaint, judicial review and Local Government Ombudsman.
Eva secures admission to ‘super selective’ grammar schools, oversubscribed infant classes and secondary schools at conventional entry points and also in-year by way of admission appeal. She also overturns permanent exclusions by way of representations and appeal.
Eva is regularly called upon by the media to provide expert advice on education law aspects of current affairs including appearing on BBC television and radio to highlight the challenges faced by parents of children with special needs and disabilities as well as wider ranging topical issues. Eva’s extensive litigation experience, having broad cross departmental specialism to draw upon and her firms Top 100 status provides ‘equality of arms’ for her clients who are often individuals in conflict with large institutions or well-resourced independent schools.
Eva has over 18 years post qualification experience.
BBC News TV – commenting on the lack of positive impact of the SEN reforms 2 years on. BBC Breakfast Show – commenting on high number of children with SEN statements and EHCP out of education. BBC Radio London – commenting on the difficulties faced by parents of children with EHCP securing secondary School placements. Huffington Post – Commenting on education and social care law and procedure in place for unaccompanied minors arriving from the Calais ‘Jungle’ camp. Education Journal – commenting on the government’s proposed grammar school expansion green paper. Surrey Hills Radio – commenting on how to access SEN support and Education Health and Care Plans. ADHD Handbook – published guide to this complex neurodevelopmental condition including how to access appropriate support in the education setting.
Eva was educated in inner London state schools and PRUs before reading Law at The University of Westminster graduating with First Class Honours. She completed her legal studies at the College of Law London
Eva lives in Richmond upon Thames with her 3 children, two of whom are neurodiverse including one of ‘dual exceptionality’. It is this first-hand experience that fuels her passion for this area work. Self-care is an essential element of resilience for SEN parents, Eva methods of choice are yoga and pilates.
Eva is committed to pro-bono work for those for whom privately paid services are cost prohibitive. She provides expert information by way of seminars and workshops, sponsorship and provision of venue for community based groups such as ADHD Richmond and National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. She volunteers for the national charity IPSEA