Academy hit by legal challenge

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Tony Blair's much-vaunted academy programme came under renewed fire yesterday when a father won the first round of a legal challenge to stop plans to close his son's comprehensive and replace it with an academy.

Rob MacDonald was given permission by the High Court to seek a judicial review of Merton Borough Council's decision to close his 15-year-old son Callum's school, Tamworth Manor, and another school, Mitcham Vale.

Mr MacDonald's case was the first of three challenges being brought by parents who hope to stop academy proposals in their areas.

Mr MacDonald, from south London, argues parents were not properly consulted about the council's proposals or provided with sufficient information about the new academy.

The council denies that and says the correct forum for objections was through the independent Schools Adjudicator - who approved the closure scheme yesterday.

Mr Justice Silber ordered a two-day hearing of the case, hopefully within the next three weeks.

Mr MacDonald's lawyers will argue the consultation process was flawed because parents did not have access to the "funding agreement".

Mr MacDonald said he was pleased at the result but concerned that pupils at the existing schools had been "left in limbo" with the end of term just weeks away.