In yesterday’s Religion and Law roundup we mentioned the judicial review proceedings over Richmond Council’s proposals for two new Roman Catholic schools in Twickenham. We were, however, unaware that London 24 had reported on Saturday that the challenge to the proposals by the British Humanist Association and the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign had already failed. Sales J rejected the application for judicial review and said that he would give his full reasons at a later date.
Counsel for the BHA and RISC had argued that the Council had breached its statutory obligation under section 6A of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 to seek proposals for setting up an academy school offering more non-religious places. Section 6A (the so-called “academy presumption” – which is not yet included in the Statute Law Database version of the Act) runs as follows:
“(1) If a local authority in England think a new school needs to be established in their area, they must seek proposals for the establishment of an Academy.
(2) The local authority must specify a date by which any proposals sought under subsection (1) must be submitted to them.
(3) After the specified date, the local authority must notify the Secretary of State—
(a) of the steps they have taken to seek proposals for the establishment of an Academy, and
(b) of any proposals submitted to them as a result before the specified date, or of the fact that no such proposals have been submitted to them before that date.
(4) A notification under subsection (3) must—
(a) identify a possible site for the Academy, and
(b) specify such matters as may be prescribed.”
The current procedure is set out in a flow-chart published by the Department for Education.
The BHA also contended that the Council’s consultation exercise had been flawed. However, Sales J concluded that s 6A did not apply to the present circumstances and he was satisfied that the consultation exercise had been lawful.