Legal action launched to stop Hewett School becoming an academy

Lord Nash and Rachel de Souza, chief executive of the Inspiration Trust. Picture: Denise Bradley

Lord Nash and Rachel de Souza, chief executive of the Inspiration Trust. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Archant 2013

Norfolk County Council has set in motion legal proceedings against the Government to halt its plans to turn the Hewett School into an academy.

The authority's solicitor Mike Garwood has written to education minister Lord Nash to tell him a judicial review will be launched after it after it has refused to approve an interim management team put forward by Norfolk County Council.

The school, in Cecil Road, Norwich, was put into special measures in November, and the government expects such schools to become academies.

The council instead wanted it to be a 'learning village', including enhanced early years activity, an extended adult education presence, and a family and community support centre.

In the letter sent yesterday Mr Garwood said he was advising Nplaw to commence Judicial Review proceedings to also challenge 'the manner and extent of the consultation being undertaken'.

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If the Hewett and Sewell Park College, which is also in special measures, become academies, there would be no non-academy high schools left in Norwich.

The government will hold a consultation lasting 10 working days with the Hewett's foundation trust, which owns the land, after which education secretary Nicky Morgan will 'consider all representations before making a final decision'. It emerged this week that the Hewett School is set to become an academy sponsored by the Inspiration Trust.

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The letter was sent as Prime Minister David Cameron said he would look into the matter, after Norwich MP Simon Wright raised concerns about plans in the House of Commons.

The Liberal Democrat used the weekly House of Commons question session to tell MPs the 'centrally imposed proposal' from the Department for Education went 'against the spirit of localism'.

Mr Cameron said: 'What we have done is make sure that where schools are not succeeding, and where schools are coasting, then yes, they are taken over and turned around. 'I think it is very important that we intervene on behalf of local parents and make sure that happens, but I will look at the specific case that he mentions.' It would be the first time ministers have turned a Norfolk school into an academy without receiving a request from its governors, or interim executive board.

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