Is the Government acting lawfully in allowing free schools to avoid regulations?

Janet Downs's picture
 5
The Government says that it will release free schools from red tape which prevents such schools from setting up quickly. The Government will waive regulations which cover planning and school buildings.

I’ve been watching the BBC Four series “Justice”. The programme on the Supreme Court made it clear that the law covers everyone: there are no exemptions. No-one is above the law. So the question is:

Is it lawful for the Government to exempt a person, or persons, from laws which govern the rest of the population?

If the answer is "Yes", and it appears to be so in the case of free schools, what are the wider implications for justice and fairness?
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Comments

Rosemary Mann's picture
Thu, 10/02/2011 - 20:29

I agree entirely. This is so impractical and open to challenge. There are still state schools going through the planning system either for temporary classrooms or modernisation/expansion and facing quite a tough ride from local communities and the planning system- and often rightly so as this is what our democratic system if for. At the same time free schools are not to face the same challenges. How is this to be justified; it could easily be in the same borough or locality as that state school? This can only be another empty promise from Gove. And why shouldn't other ventures and businesses feel aggrieved and insist on challenge or a judicial review?

Tom's picture
Fri, 11/02/2011 - 09:05

The one I've been wondering about is a school travel plan - normally if you plonk a big time-sensitive traffic attractor somewhere you at least have to look at how this affects local travel patterns, congestion etc. This is notably interesting for the WLFS, for one, since Hammersmith is notoriously congested at the best of times.

Andrew Nadin's picture
Fri, 11/02/2011 - 10:31

Back in Nov, the Govt proposed a consultation to review changes to the 1995 Town & Country Planning Order, but as far as I know nothing ever came of it. It's a serious issue, if FSs are allowed to disregard existing laws giving them significant advantage and opportunity (vs. LA Schools) to provide education services. Could a legal challenge be mounted...? I hear Gove has just lost the case that Sandwell Council brought challenging the withdrawal of BFS funding.....

Rosemary Mann's picture
Mon, 14/02/2011 - 21:24

It is possible to amend the Use Classes Order and Permitted Development legislation to make it easier to become a school however why should just Free schools have the benefit of this and not the many state schools that are looking to expand and modernise their estate?

In addition, why would it be a good thing to have substandard premises for schools. Planning legislation and building control legislation have evolved for a good reason. Is it not a little worrying to have suggestions that some of these points would be compromised?

The reference to a school travel plan is highly relevant as from my experience this is one of the main reasons people oppose new schools and nurseries. In my local area all hell broke loose after a nursery obtained permission to set up in a residential location. I can't see free schools being granted relief from this.

I also heard about the proposals to vary the planning legislation but can't find any further details on this so assume it hasn't gone through?

Fiona Millar's picture
Mon, 14/02/2011 - 21:47

Rosalyn this might help you An earlier post about changes to planning legislation.

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