“We want to make sure the consultation is clear, and it’s open, and it’s transparent” - no Hewett academy legal challenge for now

Hewett School sign and entrance on Hall Road. Picture: Denise Bradley

Hewett School sign and entrance on Hall Road. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

Plans for a High Court challenge to the planned academisation of a city high school have been put on hold.

An extraordinary meeting of Norfolk County Council's children's service committee yesterday unanimously voted to reserve its position on applying for a judicial review of government proposals for the Hewett School.

Councillors said they first wanted to see if there would be a 'full and fair consultation with the local community'.

The consultation will either be carried out by the school's newly appointed interim governors, or by its proposed sponsor, the Inspiration Trust.

The Hewett's future has been at the centre of heated debate since it was plunged into special measures following a damning Ofsted report in November.

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On March 2, education minister Lord Nash said he wanted the school to become an academy, and rejected the county council's choice of members for an interim executive board to replace its governors.

Council leaders oppose academy conversion, and instead want the school to form part of a 'learning village' on the site.

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Yesterday's meeting was called because of fears the government was trying to rush the conversion through ahead of the general election in May.

Before the public was excluded from the room, to allow councillors to discuss their legal advice in private, Gordon Boyd, assistant director of children's services, said the education secretary would decide what happened to the school's land when it became an academy.

He also confirmed council officers had considered temporarily closing the Hewett and transferring its existing pupils to other schools around the city, but decided it would be too disruptive.

Speaking after the meeting, committee chairman James Joyce said: 'We want to make sure the consultation is clear, and it's open, and it's transparent.'

What do you think of the plans for the Hewett School? Comment below, or email education correspondent Martin George at martin.george@archant.co.uk or newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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