Hewett School battle could go to High Court

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

The fight for the future of the Hewett School could be set for the High Court, after county council leaders revealed they were prepared to take legal action against the government.

The fate of the Cecil Road school, which went into special measures in November, is up in the air after the government rejected a board of new interim governors proposed by Norfolk County Council.

The government, which is clear it expects schools judged 'inadequate' by Ofsted to be converted into academies with independent sponsors, said its own interim executive board should guide the school.

The council had wanted the site to become a 'learning village', rather than an academy, but the decision by the Department for Education to reject the council's favoured board effectively torpedoes that concept.

That prompted bosses at County Hall to send an angry letter to Lord Nash, the parliamentary under secretary of state for education – in which they warned the council could seek a judicial review.

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A judicial review is a court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body.

The letter by Sheila Lock, interim director of children's services, said the decision to block the council's choice of board appeared to be 'perverse and unlawful', while the government's alternative was not 'in the best interests of the children at The Hewett School'.

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The council alleges the decision was unlawful because: it contradicted the feedback of Lord Nash's own officials; the authority was not given opportunity to correct perceived deficiencies; it took a long time to be made and was made on grounds which did not appear to accord with the Secretary of State's own guidance.

Norwich South MP Simon Wright has also written to the Department for Education urging them to think again, while the We're Backing Hewett campaigners – a group of parents and politicians – have penned an open letter to Lord Nash.

Do you have an education story? Call Martin George on 01603 772468 or email martin.george@archant.co.uk

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