Parent sues school trying to expel his 'less academic' son

In what is believed to be the first case of its kind, Russell Gray, who runs a property restoration company in London, will try to take out an injunction against the £21,900-a-year Marlborough College, where Princess Eugenie is a pupil, to stop it expelling his son Rhys, 15.

The 162-year-old Wiltshire school told Mr Gray that Rhys, who sat his GCSEs this summer, could not return because he had not worked hard enough and had an "exceptionally poor" disciplinary record.

The case will challenge the freedom of independent schools to expel pupils.

Mr Gray hopes the case will highlight the problems faced by parents of pupils who attend private schools, who he says have fewer rights than parents with children at state schools.

He believes that pressure to succeed in league tables is pushing private schools to rid themselves of average students to replace them with higher achievers.

In a witness statement which will form a key part of the case, which is being heard at Swindon County Court, Mr Gray said: "I am very concerned that the college is seeking to increase its standing in league tables by removing the less academically talented children. While Rhys will never be top of his class, I do feel that his academic performance is well within an acceptable range, and that Rhys is being sacrificed in order to improve the college's statistics.

"I also feel the college's actions are remarkably unfair. The college say they have almost complete power to remove pupils at their say so, in what is an incredibly broad and open-ended discretion.

"I had certainly not realised the relationship between the college and myself was so one-sided whilst I was paying over very substantial fees for years."

Mr Gray says Rhys should be allowed to return as long as he achieves good enough GCSE results to go into the sixth form and has not committed an offence which would warrant expulsion. While he admits his son is "no angel", the offences cited by the school are minor breaches such as chewing gum and forgetting his books, Mr Gray said.

Mr Gray said he had been "completely surprised" when he was told in May that Rhys would not be allowed to return to the school in September.

Although Mr Gray accepts that Rhys cannot remain at Marlborough if he does not achieve the required grades he says it is unacceptable to expel him before the results are published on 25 August.

Rhys, who believes he will achieve a mixture of A* to C grades in his GCSEs, said: "I think the school have behaved very unfairly. They didn't tell me that anything was wrong until a couple of weeks in to the summer term. I thought my behaviour and work were both fine. It hasn't been very good to have this hanging over me when I sat my exams."

The school stands by its decision to expel him. Nicholas Sampson, Marlborough's headteacher, wrote to Mr Gray in June, explaining that Rhys would have to leave because of problems with his academic work and discipline.

The school says it can terminate its contract with Mr Gray under a clause which covered pupils who were "unwilling or unable to profit from the educational opportunities offered".

Mr Gray's legal team will claim that this contract included the presumption that Rhys would continue into the sixth form and that the clause which allowed his removal should be legally void as it was unfair and vague.

Independent school associations believe it is the first time a parent has taken a school to court to try to prevent expulsion. But they say that independent schools should be allowed the freedom to ask pupils to leave.

Geoff Lucas, chairman of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, which represents some of the country's most prestigious schools including Marlborough, said: "It does not seem unreasonable for a school to say that a child should go elsewhere."

A spokesman for the Independent Schools Council, which represents nearly 1,300 of the country's fee-paying schools agreed. "Independent schools by their very nature are able to decide who they educate."

A spokesman for the school declined to comment saying "it would not be in the best interests of the child".

Former pupils of Marlborough College

WILLIAM MORRIS

One of the principal founders of the British Arts and Crafts Movement. Also a writer, and an early founder of the socialist movement in Britain

JOHN BETJEMAN

Poet Laureate from 1972 until his death in 1984.

ANTHONY BLUNT

Art historian and spy working for the Soviet Union during the Cold War

JAMES MASON

Actor in many films, including North by Northwest (1959) and Stanley Kubrick's Lolita (1962)

NORRIS AND ROSS McWHIRTER

Twins who co-founded The Guinness Book of Records

OTIS FERRY

Son of the singer Bryan Ferry and England's youngest master of foxhounds. Stormed House of Commons in 2004.

RAB BUTLER

Served as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary

KATE MIDDLETON

Girlfriend of Prince William.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 1 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is a small friendly village prim...

Recruitment Genius: Student Support Assistants - Part Time & Full Time

£14600 - £17600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are passionate about sup...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness