Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

What Now for School Plans?

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

What Now for School Plans?

Article excerpt

Byline: By Nicola Juncar

When Northumberland County Council was taken to the High Court over proposals to change its school system from three to two tiers, it faced a 12-month delay. Yesterday Mr Justice Mundy rejected claims the council had acted unlawfully but said further talks were needed. Today the Chronicle asks what happens next

Derek Wise is the headteacher at Cramlington High School, where the county council has decided the first reorganisation from three to two-tier will be implemented.

He is in full support of the reorganisation plans.

And with yesterday's ruling, Mr Wise says he has reason to look forward to a brighter future for his school as the county council has been given the green light to press ahead with the proposals.

The county council had been unable to progress with its proposals, which involve the closure of more than 40 middle schools, because of the High Court judicial review, brought by parents campaigning to keep the middle schools open.

The protest group Parents for Legal Action claimed the county council had not carried out the consultation process properly and said a report to councillors, by the director of children's services contained misleading financial information.

However, a High Court judge said yesterday the county council had been "entirely reasonable and entirely fair" in its plan for a two-tier system and rejected the claim the decision had been unlawful.

However Mr Justice Mundy ruled that the county council will have to carry out further "meaningful consultations" with individual parents and schools to push ahead with its plans.

He said the consultation process so far had carried out had been "arbitrary" and "unfair" because it had given individual parents and schools no opportunity to express their views.

Mr Wise said consultation with parents would now continue. "We are relieved with the result of the review because it means we can now go ahead with extending the consultation with parents and have further discussions about a two-tier system, which is what headteachers want to happen."

The county council's director of children's services, Trevor Doughty, said it wasn't out of the question to have the reorganisation up and running in 2007, which was the original proposal. …

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