Joanne Clement and Leo Davidson represented the Governing Body of Yew Tree Primary School in the first successful challenge to the Secretary of State’s refusal to revoke an Academy Order: see R (Governing Body of Yew Tree Primary School) v Secretary of State for Education  EWHC 2084 (Admin).
On 23 July 2021, Gavin Mansfield QC (sitting as a Judge of the High Court) held that the Secretary of State’s refusal to revoke an Academy Order had surmounted the “high hurdle” of irrationality in a number of respects.
• The Secretary of State had failed to engage with evidence of substantial improvement since the making of the Academy Order.
• The Secretary of State had wrongly focused on the lack of an updated Ofsted rating, despite the fact that Ofsted inspections were suspended due to the pandemic, to the exclusion of other evidence. He should have been concerned with the substance of the school’s performance.
• The Secretary of State’s treatment of the evidence provided by the Local Authority in particular had been “highly unsatisfactory”.
• It was also “troubling” that the Secretary of State had given weight to the notion that the Local Authority was not supportive of academisation: this was not supported by evidence and was tantamount to a baseless suggestion of bad faith or bias.
The Secretary of State’s refusal to revoke the Academy Order under section 5D of the Academies Act 2010 was therefore quashed.
A copy of the judgment is found here.
Joanne and Leo were instructed by Laura Hughes and Sophie Hoffman at Browne Jacobson.