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A decision by an appeals panel allowing an appeal against the local authority's decision not to admit a child to a primary school was unlawful where the professed ground for the panel's decision was untenable.
23 March 2012
John Howell QC
(1) Lambeth London Borough Council (L) sought to challenge by way of judicial review a decision of the Lambeth Independent Appeals Panel to allow the appeal against L's decision to not admit a child into a local primary school. The child's mother (M) was not able to walk long distances. She therefore applied for her child to join a local primary school (A) that was close to her home. However, it transpired that A was moving premises to location beyond M's walking range. M submitted an application to another school (B). However, the application was made late and made no reference to M's medical condition. L's admissions criteria were that higher priority could be given to children for social or medical reasons - priority was then given to children based on the distance between their home and the school. M fell outside the distance criterion B. Furthermore; L's policy regarding late applications was to consider them after applications that were made in time. As a result, B had become full. Accordingly, M's child was offered a place at A - M refused the place. M appealed the decision. The panel concluded that if the admissions arrangements has operated properly, M's child would have been offered a place at B. L challenged this decision on the basis that it did not contain adequate reasons for its decision and so was contrary to the requirements in paragraph 10 of Schedule 2 to the Education (Admission Appeal Arrangements) (England) Regulations 2002. B argued that relief should be refused because of undue delay on the part of L.
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