Posted: Tue 8th Mar 2016

THE FIGHT IS FAR FROM OVER

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Mar 8th, 2016

The battle to save John Summers High School is far from over says Donna Edwards the parent who is leading the fight to keep the school open. 

Despite the morning headline in one ‘local’ newspaper suggesting its was the ‘end of the road’ for the campaign, Ms.Edwards confirmed via our Facebook page today she has no plans to abandon the campaign saying “The fight for John Summers is far from over”

Untitled

The campaign suffered a set back last week when a High Court Judge refused an application for a Judicial review of the council’s decision to close the school.

Mr Justice Hickinbottom sitting at Wrexham Law Courts last Thursday said he did not “consider there is any other reason why this matter should proceed to a full hearing” (Judicial Review) and consequently refused the application.

Campaigners had sought to challenge Flintshire County Council’s decision to change the age range at John Summer High School from 11-18 to 11-16 and subsequently close the school from 31 August 2017.

Democratically accountable

The Judge said the court was limited in what it could do given the decision to close the school has been taken by local education authorities “whom are democratically-accountable” however, the Judge said “If the procedure is materially wrong and unlawful, then the resulting decision may be unlawful, in which event the court may declare it to be so, quash the decision and direct that the decision-maker reconsider and make a lawful decision.”

Nicholas Bowen QC on behalf of the Ms Edwards claimed the consultation procedure adopted by the Council was unlawful and did not to comply with the Welsh Ministers’ Code of School Organisation as they failed to consult with Buckley Elfed High School, a school which could be affected by John Summers closure.

Mr Bowen also claimed the Council failed to consult with school councils of schools and Northop Hall Community Council.

Lawyers argued the Council did not highlight the views of children and young people arising from the consultation.

Mr Justice Hickinbottom dismissed the concerns raised and said the Council had accepted it did not consult with Elfed School as they “took the view that Elfed was not an affected school being part of the South Flintshire Schools Consortium and some distance from the High School.”

In summing up Mr Justice Hickinbottom said:

“I appreciate the strong feelings that the issue of the future of the High School has engendered. That is clear from what I have read, and it has been reinforced by Mr Bowen (QC) this morning. However, as I said at the beginning of this judgment, the court can only interfere if the decision challenged is unlawful – and permission to proceed can only be given if it is arguably unlawful.

Disappointing as this no doubt will be to many, for the reasons I have given, despite the considerable efforts of Mr Bowen, like Dove J, I have concluded that none of the grounds relied upon is arguable; I do not consider there is any other reason why this matter should proceed to a full hearing; and I consequently refuse this application.”

Ian Budd, Flintshire County Council Chief Officer Education and Youth said,

“The Council notes that a second judge has now been satisfied that the Council had run an effective and appropriate consultation around the proposals for John Summers High School.

The Council will continue to defend its position should the applicant seek to appeal in order not to prolong uncertainty over the outcome of the review of John Summers High School.

The length of the John Summers High School review is in itself a cause of anxiety for learners and families.

The Local Authority will continue to encourage and affirm the work of school leadership in their day to day support for learners.

Local schools have also agreed collaborative transition plans for the support of learners should a determination to close be issued.”

Full Ruling: www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2016/459.html

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