Will parents launch a JR? Committee finds Council ‘followed procedure’ after consultation called-in
The controversial closure of a Northamptonshire primary school will go ahead unless parents can launch a judicial review.
Great Creaton Primary School is due to close on December 31 after Northamptonshire County Council’s cabinet voted to shut its doors in September.
Furious parents looked to have been given a reprieve after the closure was ‘called-in’ by councillors who were concerned that proper procedures hadn’t been followed, including the scope of the consultation and presenting alternative options to closure to the parents.
But the committee found this afternoon at County Hall that due process had been followed. It left Kirsty Lowe, whose daughter recently started reception at Great Creaton, devastated.
“I’m sad but also frustrated,” she said. “I feel the process hasn’t been followed as it should have been. I’m sad at the short-sightedness of the council to open the consultation to begin with and have great sadness that they have not felt able to look at their processes with an impartial eye.”
The only option now left for parents to try and see the decision reversed is to launch a judicial review, which could incur substantial legal costs.
The county council said the decision to close Great Creaton was based on ‘the low and decreasing number of pupils on roll at the school and the impact that this has had on the school’s ability to effectively deliver the curriculum to pupils’. The school ‘required improvement’ according to its latest Ofsted report.
Councillor Victoria Perry, cabinet member for schools, feels the committee made the right decision in finding the proper procedures had been followed and said the decision was informed on what was best for the children.
She said: “I was confident my officers had followed due and proper process throughout this whole consultation. It’s not in our interests not to follow that process, but it is frustrating because it leads to children not wanting to go to that school.
“We did this based on the educational outcomes. There were concerns that the school was not meeting its educational requirements and that launched the consultation.
“As a parent myself you do fight passionately for your children, and so I’m disappointed for the parents. But I’m happy that process has been followed in this instance.”
One of the councillors who ‘called-in’ the decision was Danielle Stone, who felt the consultation was not wide enough.
She said: “Schools are not just about the children who go there and the parents, it’s a whole community and that wasn’t taken into account.
“Local authorities should not just be driven by finances, and I think this was a financial decision.
“But I don’t think the parents are going to let it rest. I’m quite sure they are looking at taking it to judicial review. They have a bit of work to do, but I don’t see why it can’t be done before the closure date.”
Should that bid fail though, Kirsty Lowe will have to begin the search for a new school for her daughter.
“It’s going to be difficult,” she said. “I chose Great Creaton because it was a community school not a Church of England school. The other school that is within reasonable distance that’s non-denominational has a waiting list. So in all honesty I don’t know what I’m going to do because the choices are very limited when you have specific requirements for your schooling.”
This article originally appeared on Northampton Chronicle
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