Client Story

Specialist legal support enables academy to open new sixth form

2nd September 2019

Dene Magna School were able to call on the specialist expertise of academies expert Emma Swann and the education team when approval for their new sixth form in Cinderford, Forest of Dean, was challenged by another local school.

Emma’s expertise and understanding of the central issues, including how and over what period the consultation process was run, any changes of circumstances which would affect the length of consultation and the potential impact of such a development on neighbouring sixth forms, was invaluable.

Steve Brady, head teacher, said afterwards: “We had the very best support and guidance from the team at HCR whilst making a significant change to our Academy. During the process, we were kept up to date with how things were progressing and were given honest, straightforward advice. What proved to be a steep learning curve for us was made far easier with the support of HCR.”

Dene Magna School, based in Mitcheldean, Gloucestershire, called on the team when the South West Regional School Commissioner’s approval for the sixth form, which will open this September at the Cinderford campus of Gloucestershire College, was called in for judicial review after opposition by another local high school. The other school challenged the decision, concerned about the impact the new facility would have on its own sixth form.

Emma and the team acted for Dene Magna as an interested party – she said: “We represented them at an initial interim hearing where an injunction was sought to prevent the school taking any further steps in preparation for opening the sixth form in September 2019.  We instructed counsel, Clive Sheldon QC, who succeeded in defeating the application for an injunction at Birmingham High Court.  Dene Magna School was awarded its legal costs.

“We subsequently represented Dene Magna School at the permission and substantive hearings.  Permission was granted to bring the judicial review but the challenge was dismissed by the court at the substantive hearing. Our client was awarded legal costs of £55,000.

“Dene Magna School can now open a new sixth form that will bring significant benefits and extend opportunities to local students in the Forest of Dean.  Our client was awarded significant costs although it was an interested party to the proceedings and not the defendant, which was highly unusual.”

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