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Secretary of State required to consider alternative to academies

9 January 2013

The High Court judgment dealing with the application to challenge a previous decision to convert Downhills Primary School into an academy has now been published.  

The judgment discusses a number of interesting points relating to forced academisation and the Secretary of State’s legal powers in this area. Importantly, the Court ruled that the Secretary of State should consider how a school would perform if it remained a maintained school before making an academy order. For the Downhills decision, the Court noted that the Secretary of State had considered the alternative but given “egregious past failures over a very substantial period”, the Secretary of State’s decision to proceed with academy status was considered to be rational.

However, where a school’s performance under local authority control has not been so poor historically and there are genuine prospects for improvement in the future as a maintained school, this decision demonstrates that the Secretary of State will need to think carefully before putting in place a funding agreement.

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