Administrative Court quashes Academy Order in respect of maintained middle school due to failure to consider prejudice to ongoing local authority review of unviable three-tier school structure


R(Somerset County Council) v Secretary of State for Education & Ors [2020] EWHC 1675 (Admin)

The Administrative Court has quashed an Academy Order permitting a community middle school maintained by Somerset County Council to join a Multi-Academy Trust (‘MAT’) in the midst of an on-going local authority-led review process seeking a solution to an unviable historic three-tier school system in the Crewkerne and Ilminster area. Fraser J found that the Regional Schools Commissioner had unlawfully failed to consider and properly inquire into the negative impact of her decision on the on-going review in circumstances in which the MAT’s commitment to necessary structural reforms was doubtful. There had additionally been a failure by the Commissioner to assess viability in breach of applicable policy and an unlawful failure to give reasons. Raj Desai was instructed by Jeremy Byrne of Somerset County Council Legal Services.