Parents who oppose the conversion of their children’s school in Newham, London to an academy as part of a multi-academy trust have been granted permission for a judicial review by the High Court.
Law firm Leigh Day, which has recently taken over the case, had already successfully applied for an interim injunction at court. This meant that funding arrangements for the conversion of Avenue Primary School into an academy, which were due to be signed off last week, have now been put on hold pending further court proceedings.
Solicitor Rowan Smith from Leigh Day, "The granting of a judicial review is excellent news as it affords parents of children at the school, who have grave concerns over the switch to academy status, the opportunity to air their views fully and openly in court. The review is likely to take place in the second half of June."
Sayesta Miah and Soyeb Patel, who are both parents of children at the school, began legal action after they and other parents were told by governors in December that the school was going to convert out of local authority hands and become an academy and part of the EKO Multi-Academy Trust, which already manages three primary schools and one special educational needs school across the borough.
The lack of a thorough consultation from school governors about the proposed changes prompted parents to begin legal action, demanding a detailed and transparent consultation period, ahead of any move to academisation.
Sayesta Miah and Soyeb Patel have launched a Crowdjustice page to raise £15,000 in funds for their legal fight. Outlining their concerns they say:
"We, along with other parents of Avenue Primary school in Newham are fighting for justice. Justice for ourselves and on behalf of our children’s education, which we feel is being compromised and will continue to deteriorate.
"We are questioning the reliability and transparency of the school’s governing board, which made a major decision to convert our community school to academy status and join the EKO Trust, without adequately engaging or consulting parents.
"The law requires proper engagement with stakeholders (including parents) via a lawful consultation that takes into account their views, and which has due regard to the needs of protected individuals, such as children with special educational needs.
"We do not consider the governors have complied with those requirements and that is why we wholeheartedly welcome the granting of a judicial review, at which we will be voicing our concerns and those of the majority of other parents of children at Avenue Primary School."
Solicitor Rowan Smith, from law firm Leigh Day, who are representing Sayesta Miah, added:
"This is clearly a very controversial issue with parents understandably concerned by a lack of consultation in their children’s educational future. Now that we have been granted a judicial review, we look forward to presenting our evidence and having the views of our clients considered in court."