QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
B e f o r e :
| THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF F
|THE HEAD TEACHER OF ADDINGTON HIGH SCHOOL
|THE GOVERNING BODY OF ADDINGTON HIGH SCHOOL
|THE INDEPENDENT APPEAL PANEL OF LONDON BOROUGH OF CROYDON
|THE LONDON BOROUGH OF CROYDON
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited
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(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
MS J RICHARDS (instructed by Croydon Council Legal Services, Croydon, CR9 3JS) appeared on behalf of the FOURTH DEFENDANT
The FIRST, SECOND AND THIRD DEFENDANTS did not appear
Crown Copyright ©
"His attendance is excellent. He is punctual to school, often arriving before most of the students. He is always neatly turned out and quite popular with peers at the Centre ... His learning has suffered as a result [of his school experiences]. Even here at the centre F would not request help for his classwork. Members of staff have to notice his lack of progress and then offer to help before F would engage with them. F adopts a very angry posture if you ask him about anything. If he is spoken to with patience he will admit that there is nothing at issue to make him respond angrily and yet that is always the first response. It is almost like he is permanently angry with all educational establishments.
"Staff at the centre are at the very early stages of working with F to equip him with strategies to better manage anger and to try to see the school community in a different light. The first indications are that he is responding well to the strategies and is making progress."
The author then goes on to give recommendations as to how future schooling should be approached in the claimant's case.
"Since our client's exclusion he has not received any suitable education. Our client has been out of school for almost 4 months. As you are aware, during the Summer period it is extremely difficult to contact various schools. However our client has still made every effort possible to find a school for her son but has had no success. Whilst there has been a delay in locating an appropriate school for our client, he has been suffering prejudice to his education. To avoid any further prejudice, we advice that you provide him with home tuition pending the resolution of his long term placement."
The letter then goes on to define the duties of the local education authority under section 19 and Department of Education Circular 11/99.
"At the time of Seth's exclusion from school on 26th April, the Headteacher's letter of that date included details of an appointment for Mrs B and F to attend a meeting at The Coningsby Centre ... The letter explained that, at that meeting, Mrs B would be given information about the arrangements for Seth's education while he is excluded from school. I have received no confirmation from the Centre that Mrs B attended that meeting.
"Staff at The Coningsby Centre are not available during the period of the school summer holidays and, therefore, I am unable to establish what tuition can be made available to F until the Centre opens again in early September."
"As you detailed in your letter F was excluded from Addington High School on 26th April 2002 and in line with borough procedure was referred to the Coningsby PRU for an exclusion interview. The purpose of this interview is to explain to parents their rights of appeal, advise them of the support available and to arrange appropriate alternative education for their child. Ms B was offered interviews on 27th May, 24th June and 17th July; unfortunately she was unable to attend.
"In response to her missing the third appointment Ms B was phoned by my Secretary and Ms B told her that her son was attending at CACFO, a voluntary sector provider. This provision constitutes Education Otherwise. CACFO is supported by the LEA and is deemed to fulfil the criteria for Education Otherwise.
"As you are aware parents have the right to have their child 'educated otherwise' than at school.
"In view of the clear parental choice made by Ms B the Centre removed [the claimant] from its roll.
"If Ms B has decided to withdraw F from the CACFO provision and wants him to be reinstated on the PRU roll it would be advisable for her to contact the Centre to arrange a new exclusion interview date."
"Our client's mother failed to attend the appointment at the Coningsby Pupil Referral Unit since this is clearly an unsuitable place for her son. Our client should be attending a mainstream school which teaches the national curriculum since he is due to begin his GCSE course as he is 14 years of age. It is a statistical fact, as you are aware that Pupil Referral Units are for children with severe behavioural problems and our client does not suffer from behavioural problems. The CACFO have also stated that our client's behaviour has drastically improved and he is ready to go back into a mainstream school.
"As you are also aware, there is a high failure rate amongst such pupils at Pupil Referral Units and therefore clearly it is an inappropriate place for our client.
"It appears that you have not considered for our client to go to a mainstream school. You have not stated you are intending to consider any mainstream schools for him to attend. We request that you provide a list of mainstream schools with suitable vacancies for our client.
"We request that you respond within seven days by return of fax. In the event that you do not do so we will issue proceedings against you and seek costs accordingly."
"It is clear that Section 19 was envisaged as a safety net for all those children who are out of school for whatever reason. The Claimant has been out of school since the 2nd July 2002 and has not received any education whatsoever from the Fourth Defendant."
"Ms Harris immediately proposed sending F to a Pupil Referral Unit. There has been no attempt at all to try to find a place in another mainstream school and I feel very concerned that Ms Harris should be willing to seriously prejudice my son's chances for appropriate educational provision, again with little or no reliable information."
"Your client has never visited the Coningsby pupil Referral unit or kept any appointments with Sue Podd to discuss how the unit could assist in arranging appropriate alternative educational provision.
"You state that pupil Referral units are for children with severe behavioural problems. That is incorrect. Pupil Referral units are to assist in the reintegration of excluded pupils back into mainstream schooling.
"You state that F does not have behavioural problems but his behaviour has drastically improved whilst at CACFO. In the papers presented to the independent appeal panel, there is reference to Mrs B stating that her son can be confrontational. Seth's individual education plan for the school year 2001/2 mentions the fact that F is aggressive towards other pupils.
"The LEA is limited in its knowledge of the availability of vacancies at all schools in the borough. Records are kept for the community schools which are [Ms McBean then sets out a list of six].
"The only school in this list likely to have vacancies is Selhurst High School for Boys [the address is given].
"All the other schools in the borough manage their own admissions and the LEA does not have a record of the availability of vacancies. Those schools are [she sets out a list of 11].
"In respect of your letter dated 27th September enclosing a copy of your client's application for judicial review, please note this was not accompanied by your statement of grounds; your statements of the facts relied on; or copies of any document upon which you propose to rely. The third and fourth defendants are unable to complete the Acknowledgment of Service without this documentation. Given that you are requesting that the defendants lodge their Acknowledgment of Service within 7 days, please provide the above documentation by return.
"It is also noted in the draft order that you will be seeking an order for costs against the defendants. Please note this request will be strongly resisted. You stated in your letter dated 24th September that 'we request that you respond within seven days'. You have served the incomplete application on 27th September without giving my clients the opportunity to respond within your time limit."
Ashok Patel took no steps to bring that letter to the attention of the deputy judge considering the application for permission.