SEN reform in Wales

December 12th, 2016 by Joanne Clement

Readers of this blog practising in Wales will no doubt be rejoicing today, after the long-awaited Additional Learning Needs and Eduction Tribunal (Wales) Bill was finally introduced into the Senedd.
Details of the Bill and its expected progress are found here. I hope to provide a summary of the key changes to be introduced by the Bill on this blog in due course.

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Special Educational Needs: Guidance given on approach where parents cannot agree on choice of school in SEN statement

October 31st, 2016 by Joanne Clement

In SG v Denbighshire County Council and B (SEN) (Special Educational Needs: Special Educational Provision – naming school) [2016] UKUT 460 (AAC), the Upper Tribunal gave guidance on the approach to be taken where parents cannot agree on the choice of school to be named in Part 4 of a statement of special educational needs (“the Statement”).

E’s parents were separated, and did not agree on the choice of secondary school. The parents had a joint residence order, but it appears that E lived with her mother. Mr S wanted E to attend a school in Town R, where he lived. E’s mother wanted E to attend a school in Town P, which was also attended by E’s sister. In Part 4, the local authority named “P School (as long as parents pay for transport)”. Read more »


Government formally drops academies legislation

October 28th, 2016 by Joanne Clement

In a Written Ministerial Statement made yesterday, 27 October 2016, the Secretary of State for Education confirmed that the Education Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech (with the aim of introducing forced academy conversions for all schools), had been abandoned.

The Secretary of State confirmed that:
“Our ambition remains that all schools should benefit from the freedom and autonomy that academy status brings. our focus, however, is on building capacity in the system and encouraging schools to convert voluntarily. no changes to legislation are required for these purposes and therefore we do not require wider education legislation in this session to make progress on our ambitious education agenda”.

The Department for Education currently has three Bills before Parliament – the Children and Social Work Bill (as to which, see my post on the 11KBW Community Care blog), the Higher Education and Research Bill and the Technical and Further Education Bill (introduced on 27 October). The Schools that Work for Everyone consultation (proposing more grammar school places) remains ongoing. It is due to end in mid-December, with a White Paper to follow.


High Court allows Downhills Primary School to be converted into an Academy

August 15th, 2012 by Joanne Clement

Mr Justice Kenneth Parker has this morning refused permission to apply for judicial review in R (Moyse) v Secretary of State for Education. The claimant, a parent, challenged the Secretary of State’s decision to convert Downhills Primary School into an Academy from this September.

The background to the claim is that Mr Gove made an Academy order in March and identified his preferred sponsor (the Harris Federation). The Governing Body (an interim executive board) then carried out a consultation exercise on whether or not the school should convert to academy status from 1 September 2012. Mr Gove decided on 20 June  to convert the school using his powers of intervention, which arise where a school has been assessed by Ofsted as requiring “significant improvement” or (as in this case, following an Ofsted report in early 2012) “special measures”. He entered into a funding agreement with the Harris Federation. The claimant issued a claim on 19 July, asking the Court to grant permission to apply for judicial review and, further, to stay the conversion of the school (which would otherwise go ahead on 1 September) pending the outcome of the proceedings.

The claimant raised four grounds of challenge, alleging that:

–          the requirement that, prior to conversion, there is a consultation under section 5 of the Academies Act 2010 had not been fulfilled, since the governing body which conducted the consultation had not reached its own decision on whether conversion should take place;

–          the consultation process had been unfair because parents had not been given an opportunity to formulate an alternative proposal;

–          the Secretary of State had, in reaching his decision, not complied with section 9 of the Education Act 1996, which requires regard to the general principle that pupils are to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents, so far as that is compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure; and

–          the Secretary of State had asked himself the wrong question, by focusing on the school’s historic performance instead of its likely performance in the future should it continue to be maintained by the local authority.

Mr Justice Kenneth Parker refused permission to apply for judicial review, deciding that the claimant’s grounds were unarguable.

The Secretary of State was represented by Clive Sheldon QC and Patrick Halliday of 11KBW.  Rachel Kamm, also of 11KBW, represented the governing body (an interim executive board) which was an interested party.