HIGH COURT JUDGE OVERTURNS GROVE PARK SCHOOL RULING
Mr Justice Maurice Kay has overturned the decision of an independent appeals panel and supported Hounslow Council's policy on admissions. The case centred around siblings of children at Grove Park School who were denied places as they did not live within the Priority Admissions Area. The judge has quashed the ruling by the panel that this policy was "unreasonable" and ordered a new case review.
The decision of the Independent School Admission Appeals Panel was to allow four children who had been refused a place at Grove Park School, on the grounds of class size limitations, to be admitted to the school. The decision, if it had been upheld, would have created a need for an additional teacher, possibly without additional funding which could have further strained an already stretched education budget.
The current policy of giving priority to children living within a school's Priority Admission Area, rather than siblings per se, has been in place since 1992 and is used by many other Local Education Authorities around the country although the majority use sibling priority.
Douglas Tricket, The Director of Education in Hounslow, said that there was nothing unfair or unusual about the admissions criteria in Hounslow, especially as it has been operating without significant change for almost ten years. He added that it is agreed annually by school governing bodies and parents, is based on government guidance, and the parents in this specific case were aware of this policy when they chose to place their older children in Grove Park School.
The children have all been offered places in schools close to where they live. The four children who were seeking admission are four years old and their year group already has the maximum amount of 30 pupils. The Government have made this a legal maximum for the first three years of primary education. In 1998 a quarter of all early years primary school pupils were in classes over 30 but since September of this year this has become the maximum.
In this case the children all resided outside the Chiswick area but some local parents have expressed concern that a future shortage of school places is looming and children living in Chiswick may not be able to attend the same school as their brothers and sisters.