Student exemption from council tax and another banned teacher

February 24th, 2014

Two recent cases are covered in this post.

The first concerns the exemption from Council tax for students: to qualify for this you need to be a “full-time” student, as defined in Sch 1, para 4(1)(b) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.  This requires, amongst other things, enrollment on a course of at least 24 weeks’ study per year at an average of at least 21 hours per week.  The claimant in R (Steven Earl) v Winchester City Council [2014] EWHC 195 (Admin) had enrolled on a full-time, two-year course of education but spent the second year re-taking a double module from his first-year which he had failed, following which (in his third year) he completed the second year of the course.  Unlike the first and third years which did amount to full-time study, his second year required just 3 hours of lectures and had a recommended study period of 10 hours per week.  The University regarded him as a full-time student throughout but the parties agreed this was not determinative.

Thirlwall J held that he was not entitled to the statutory exemption during his second year because during that year he was enrolled to undertake a course of education which would lead him to complete the double module only.  You can read the decision here.

The second case follows on from the previous post by Tom Ogg and concerns another prohibition order made by the Secretary of State for Education banning a teacher from teaching: Adam Walker v Secretary of State for Education [2014] EWHC 267 (Admin).  The claimant had received a suspended prison sentence of 18 months for various offences arising out of an incident in which he had behaved in a threatening manner towards three children. The recommendation from the professional conduct panel was a prohibition order with a review after 2 years but the decision by the Secretary of State was to impose a prohibition order without any possibility of review.

HHJ Clive Heaton QC (sitting as a deputy High Court judge) was “wholly unpersuaded” by any of the arguments advance by the Appellant (who was representing himself) and, holding that the Secretary of State has a “wide ambit of discretion in respect of such decisions” [44], dismissed the appeal.  The judgment is available here.

Paul Greatorex

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