Lawyers discover LEA withheld report on failing school

Lawyers discovered a local education authority had withheld a damning report about a failing school by tracking it down on the internet.

A special needs tribunal decided a 14-year-old boy, suffering from Tourette's Syndrome, should go to a school chosen by his local education authority (LEA) in North Somerset.

The boy's parents had wanted him to go to a private school, costing £50,000 a year, instead. They had visited the LEA's preferred choice – Periton Mead, in Minehead, Somerset – but did not think it was suitable.

The tribunal ruled in favour of the LEA, but a subsequent search on the internet by the boy's counsel revealed the school was in fact subject to a damning report by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted).

The boy's solicitor, education specialist, Beverley Watkins, of Price Watkins in Bristol, says: “It must have been one of the most damning Ofsted reports ever. It was under special measures and had been for two years.

“The LEA did not disclose the school had any problems and attempted to portray it as a successful and thriving school, when clearly that was not the case.”

Watkins decided to apply for judicial review and handed the case to barrister Ian Wise, at Doughty Street Chambers. A search for Periton Mead on the internet revealed the school had failed an Ofsted inspection.

The report catalogued a host of appaling problems.

Child F, who has not been at school since November 1997, also suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder and is dyslexic.

His case will now be heard at a High Court appeal on 10 March.