Law Report: CTC's decision was lawful: Regina v Governors of Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College Trust, Ex parte Tyrell - Queen's Bench Division (Mr Justice Dyson), 10 October 1994

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The Independent Online
A decision of a city technology college relating to the admission of a pupil is amenable to judicial review.

Mr Justice Dyson dismissed an application for judicial review of the college's refusal to admit the applicant.

The college became a city technology college under section 105(1) of the Education Act 1988. Its prospectus stated that the criteria for selecting students of a wide range of abilities was their likelihood of benefiting from the curriculum offered and the parents' support for the college's educational aims. It also stated that where both those criteria were satisfied, priority would be given on the basis of proximity to the child's home to the college.

The applicant was not offered a place even though his home was only 10 minutes walk from the college. The applicant applied for judicial review on the ground that the college had not applied the threshold criteria of likelihood to benefit and parental support but had applied a sliding scale approach to an applicant's ability.

Charles Bear (Teacher Stern Selby) for the applicant; Stuart Catchpole (Freshfields) for the college.

MR JUSTICE DYSON said the first issue was whether the decision of the CTC was amenable to judicial review.

Decisions made by local education authorities concerning admission to public sector schools, such as county schools, voluntary aid schools and grant maintained schools, were amenable to judicial review. That was because those decisions were taken by bodies, the source of whose power was statutory, and the decisions were made in the exercise of public law duties or functions.

Such decisions, if made by private schools, were not amenable to judicial review. That was because the source of power of such schools was not statute but consent.

The position of CTCs was materially different from that of private schools. CTCs in general and this college in particular were bodies whose decisions were susceptible to judicial review.

The Education Secretary could, through funding, control important aspects of the running of the school, including admissions policies and procedures. None of those features were present in private schools.

If CTCs were not susceptible to judicial review, pupils and parents would be left without a remedy if they were the victims of a wrong.

Turning to the prospectus, the college applied the first criterion by requiring a high degree of likelihood to benefit, so that any antithesis between the threshold criterion and the sliding scale criterion fell away. The applicant's case on the interpretation of the prospectus failed.