Parents take Dean Trust to Court over Unlawful School Swap

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The Law Of... following an Education and Health Care Plan

The parents of seven youngsters with special educational needs due to start Ashton on Mersey School in Sale this September have issued a judicial review application against The Dean Trust, after it announced plans to send their children to a different school than the one they were promised a place at.

Parents Take Dean Trust To Court Over Unlawful ‘School Swap’

The seven children in question all have an Education and Health Care plan which stipulates that they should attend the Ashton on Mersey School. Imagine the surprise when the parents were suddenly told that their children would instead be taken by bus to Broadoak school in Partington (a school also run by the Dean Trust), against their wishes.

James Betts, a specialist Education lawyer at Simpson Millar solicitors, has been instructed by the parents to challenge the Dean Trust’s decision.

He says: "On behalf of the parents, we have now secured public funding to challenge the proposal made by the Dean Trust, and have issued a judicial review application in the High Court. For these children who are only months away from starting a new school, this is an urgent issue and we have asked the court to help resolve it quickly. The court has ordered that a hearing should take place before 29 August.*"

Earlier this month, Simpson Millar issued a pre-action letter to the Dean Trust – setting out arguments why its proposed plan to move the children is unlawful. But the Dean Trust maintains its position to transport the children by bus, each day, to a different school than the one named in their EHC plan.

James says: "I firmly believe that what the Dean Trust is proposing is against the law. It is crucial that we get this issue clarified by the court so that no other parents will have to face a similar scenario in the future."

"Allowing Trusts that run a chain of academy schools to move children around to suit the organisation’s needs rather than those of the children is a dangerous road to go down. This could open the door to other similarly creative policies in the future."

"These families and their children are in a state of limbo; surrounded by confusion and uncertainty. I only hope that the court will find in favour of these families in time for the children to enjoy their first day of school."

* Update: The Judicial Review hearing has now been set for 16 August 2016.


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