Comment posted Education Secretary loses Judicial Review of school closure rejections by newsroom.
What is hard to understand is that the government does not appear to know what its own law enables – or requires – it to do.
Lord Brailsfors has said that, in this case, the call-ins were unjustified and defective; and that he has been unable to find a consistent argument for calling-in these decisions between the reasons given in the call-in letters to Western Isles Council and those advanced in the pleadings in response to this challenge.
Interestingly – and with wide significance, he goes on to find that the process of call-in, once engaged, is very much more radical and protective than the government itself seems to have understood.
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- But we do continue to hope that half full fills up.
- Following Lord Brailsford’s findings, it is not going to be easier to call-in closure decisions. Quite the reverse.
From now on, call-ins will have to be strictly tied to clear procedural failures.
However, there is now a second non-legal constraint.
Once called-in, schools with a strong evidential case to stay open will have much more protection than they have had up to now.
The terms of the Act have now been clarified, with the Education Secretary, post call-in, required to take a full decision on the case in question – and not bound by anything that has gone before.
Since the Act puts no limit on the time that may be taken between calling-in a decision and coming to an independent decision, there is room for a largely new process of whatever kind the Education Secretary chooses.
But this means serious, detailed work and careful analysis – which the civil servants who would be doing it are not used to doing.
This is the invisible non-legal constraint now on call-ins. Imagine the work demanded by four simultaneous call-ins, as was the case here with Western Isles.
This situation will have a limited life since the Act is demonstrably quite seriously unable, both from weaknesses in its framing and from deforming precedents set in its erratic implementation.
The Commission on the Delivery of Rural Education has already been asked to take the lead in reviewing the serviceability of the Act, identifying where it needs revision and perhaps making recommendations.
The Commission is ‘owned’ jointly by the Education Secretary and COSLA, whose perspectives and pressures are at some variance.
It is hard to be hopeful of a coherent and balanced specification for a revised Act emerging from this essentially conflicted context.
It is at least as hard to be hopeful of a well framed Act being the end result, given the intellectual fragility of the current effort.
- It’s the 2010 Schools Act, Simon. Most people know the SNP government came to power in 2007. ‘Government’? ‘It’s own law’?
You must be singularly short of a gripe.
These findings are exceedingly interesting because the Brailsford reading of the ‘remitting’ of the decision to Scottish Ministers (aka the Education Secretary) which call-in sets in train, is that the law requires Scottish Ministers in taking the final decision, then to review the case and the substance of the case – not merely to check that procedures have been correctly observed.
This allows the Education Secretary to consider and evaluate the evidence – even to seek further evidence. It requires an independent pronouncement – as the superior authority at this stage – on whether, in the concerns and criteria expressed in the law, a school should close.
These findings provide for an unfettered, very vigorous and engaged decision taking process following ministerial call in of council closure decisions.
The threshold to be crossed remains a conceptual problem – in that the reasons for call-in remain the identification of procedural – not evidential – weaknesses.
The 2010 Schools Act was very poorly written. The Wick determination has left it unable to offer the required shelter to a school that should not be closed.
Properly speaking, we should be looking at a root and branch revision of that Act.
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‘Scottish Affaires Committee’ sounds quite exotic, NCH.
As a political realist, l am as uninterested in the ‘affaires’ of the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster as I would expect any serious nationalist to be.
The SNP has indy within its grasp if it has the bottle to go for it in the 2016 Scottish Election.
I have absolutely no doubt that, if it wants indy, the party can muster what it needs to take the win in May 2016; even though, on the hardest of hard evidence, in my view it would be – after the Blair 2003 Iraq gig – the stand out act of irresponsibilty in the direct experience of my lifetime.
And if the UK Government were so foolish as to deny a second referendum, the mandate of the 2016 Scottish election that had led to the request would support a UDI in short order.
The power is not at Westminster and I would have thought you would celebrate and use that rather than get drawn into silly parochial games in the House of Commons.
It remains a matter of wonder to me that the SNP are now focused on Westminster, with Holyrood already the B-arena.
The seduction of the bigger game seems irresistible even to supposed separatists with supposed contempt for ‘Westmonster’.
Why so worried about whatever happens at the Scottish Affairs Committee? It doesn’t matter.
- Is Greece facing the possibility of another junta?
‘Perpetual bailout’ has been exactly the case – and the IMF’s calculations of the impact of the austerity requirements on Greece were very short of the mark, with the reality biting much deeper, harder and not necessarily in the right places.
- Is this the ultimate dream Scottish property? Golfers will agree.
Not unlucky, Treble T – lucky.
I used professionally sourced information on a subject I know nothing about, which may actually prove to have been correct.
The eventual correctness would be a relief – but the enjoyment has been the learning – from your knowledge of the sport and of that course – of how you may be able literally to create eighteen different playing holes with six greens and eight tee blocks.
The ingenuity of this is fascinating and I now want to know the detail of how this course is arranged.
This has been a wholly positive contribution and the thanks are genuine.
- Is this the ultimate dream Scottish property? Golfers will agree.
This is very illuminating. Thank you.
So – speaking logically and in ignorance of golf, this would suggest that, since the Tower of Lethendy has eight tee blocks, each of these will serve ore than one hole, creating perhaps eighteen different ‘holes’, using the same six greens but coming at them by different routes.
If this is the case, it may be possible for ‘eighteen holers’ of this nature to gain a Par 57?
The design would be intriguing to know- and we have asked to know.
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You are quite right – and the title and text are being edited to conform with that.
I have lived for some time with a quite wrong sense of what ‘valediction’ means.
The mistake was mine. Apologies for that. Lynda
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