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28 AUG 2013

R (on the application of DD) v Independent Appeal Panel of the London Borough of Islington and Another [2013] EWHC 2262 (Admin); (2013) PLLR 093

Education - Admission - Class size - Appeal

The Independent Appeal Panel had correctly considered that admission of the Claimant's child to the reception class at school T would breach the class size limit in the two years following reception.

25 July 2013

Administrative Court

McKenna HHJ

(1)        By this claim, the Claimant sought judicial review of the dismissal of her appeal against the decision of the London Borough of Islington to refuse to comply with her preference for her son to attend primary school ‘T' in the reception year.

(2)        The primary issue concerned the correct test to be applied by an Independent Appeal Panel (‘the Panel') when considering cases where a child was refused a place on the basis that admission would require steps to avoid a breach of the class size limit of 30 children in subsequent years.

(3)        The Claimant alleged that because the limit on infant size classes would not have been breached in the first academic year, had her son been admitted, her appeal should have been treated as an ordinary appeal under section 3 of the 2012 Schools Admissions Appeals Code (‘the Appeals Code') rather than as an infant class size appeal under section 4 of this code.

(4)        School T was oversubscribed in the 2012 application process, so it had to apply over subscription criteria, including distance between the school and the child's home. All of the children admitted lived closer to the school than the Claimant's son.

(5)        The Claimant appealed the decision of the Admissions Authority on 25 April 2012, and on 13 July 2012 the appeal was determined on the basis of it being an appeal against infant class size. The test for this was narrower than that applied to ordinary appeals, and the appeal was dismissed. The Claimant contended that the broader ordinary appeals test ought to have been applied.

(6)        HELD: The Court considered that the answer to the issues raised by this case lay in the wording of section 3 and 4 of the Appeals Code, and the context in which it sat. In this regard, it was clearly an important statutory policy that in reception, years 1 and 2, class sizes should not exceed 30 children. In this context, it would be inconsistent to construe the Appeals Code as only requiring panels to consider whether there would be a breach of this policy in the reception class, and not look at possible breaches in subsequent years.

(7)        The ordinary meaning of the words plainly envisaged that a panel was to make its determination based on what would happen in the future, and there was no limitation on when the breach might arise. The panel correctly treated the appeal as an infant class size appeal, and rightly considered whether the admission of the Claimant's son would breach the class size limit during the two years after reception.

(8)        The claim thus fell to be dismissed.

Claim dismissed

Key paragraphs

[49] - Appeals code wording.

[49] - Ordinary meaning.

[52] - Correct treatment of appeal.

[53] - Dismissed. 

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