2011 03 Education

Friday 1 April 2011

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Case law:

R (RO) v East Riding of Yorkshire [2011] EWCA Civ 196 (Rix, Smith and Richards LLJ): Allowing the appeal brought by an extremely vulnerable 15-year-old boy with severe autism co-morbid with severe ADHD, the Court of Appeal's judgment establishes the primacy of the LAC regime under Children Act 1989 over the Education Act 1996 Part IV. Thus a statement of special educational needs cannot supplant and supercede duties owed to a child who is already accommodated under s20, Children Act 1989 and is a looked after child under ss22 and 23, Children Act 1989. The judgment affirms that it is unlawful to side-step duties under s20 not only in the Housing Act / Children Act situation (G v Southwark type case) but also in an Education Act / Children Act situation. It also deals with the point raised by Lady Hale in G v Southwark (obiter) as to when termination of s20 can be done - an assessment is necessary before one can terminate s20. The judgment important is the first at the Appellate level to deal with the nature and scope of the duty under s22(3A), Children Act 1989 to promote the educational achievement of looked after children.

Shu Shin Luh of Garden Court Chambers (led by Nicholas Bowen Q.C.) represented the Appellant child. Click here for the judgment.

See about the case in the Practice Notes section of the website under 'Children' and 'Education'.

R (Luton Borough Council and Ors) v Secretary of State for Education

[2011] EWHC 217 (Admin) (Holman J): In a blow to the Coalition Government's controversial axing of the Building Schools for the Future Programme, five local authorities succeeded in a judicial review against the Secretary of State for Education for its failure to consult each of the local authorities before cutting their individual building projects. He also unlawfully failed to give due regard to the equality impacts of his proposed decision to cut each of these projects. He was ordered by the Court to reconsider his decision, upon providing the claimant local authorities a reasonable opportunity to make representations, and reconsider each project with an open mind, paying due regard to any representations the local authorities may make and rigorously discharging his equality duties. Click here for the judgment which deals carefully with each of 5 headings of challenge.

Note: This is yet another interesting and successful judicial review challenge to the Coalition Government's widespread cuts across the public sector. The failure to do an equality impact assessment before making sweeping cuts emerges yet again here as an effective challenge to what some have called hasty decision-making on part of the Coalition Government. This follows from another successful challenge against the London Councils' decision ([2011] EWHC 151 (QB) to cut £10 million of funding from the voluntary sector. See judgment here.

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