Croxteth Community Comprehensive
Campaigners fighting to save a valued inner-city school in Liverpool have launched a court bid to stop the comprehensive from being closed by the council.
Lawyers from leading national firm Irwin Mitchell issued proceedings yesterday for a Judicial Review of Liverpool City Council's decision to close Croxteth Community Comprehensive School in August next year.
The case is the latest stage in the battle by the local community, teaching staff and governors to keep the 430-pupil school open.
Campaigners argue that the school, which was described by an Ofsted Inspector last year as being 'one big family' and praised for raising standards, is essential to the cohesion of Croxteth.
But controversial proposals by the council, which have already been raised in the House of Commons, would see Croxteth Community Comprehensive closed, a new boys-only academy created on the site of the current De La Salle college and the all-girls St John Bosco college refurbished.
Both surviving colleges would be Catholic schools. Parents would also be offered places at Fazakerley High School, two bus rides from the existing Croxteth site.
The campaigners have also asked the High Court to make an order quickly preventing the Council from taking any steps to implement its proposals until the case is concluded, in one of the first cases to be lodged at the new regional Administrative Court.
Lawyers will argue that the decision should be overturned because the council failed to follow Government guidance on school closure proposals, rejected serious alternatives to the closure plan and has discriminated against non-Catholics. The plans would leave the community with only two Catholic schools in a multi-faith area.
Andrew Lockley, Head of Irwin Mitchell's Public Law Department, said: "The unity of pupils, parents and school in opposing the closure proposals is impressive. This is something they care deeply about and shows the strength of feeling in the community about this issue. They deserve a hearing.
"They will be one of the first able to press their case in the new regional Administrative Court, part of the High Court. Until last month, all cases of this sort had to go to London, but now the High Court in Liverpool or Manchester will deal with it in the next few months."
Christine Seddon, who has two children at Croxteth and is one of a number of parents to have formed the Parents Against Closure action group, said: "The main thing for me is the safety of my boys and all the other children.
"My youngest is 11 and I don't want them going out of the area. I want them where they know people and people know them."
Ms Seddon added: "It is a fabulous school and it's so important to the local area. People don't realise that. Everyone knows everyone here, it's a small community, but if that school closes, then we don't have a community."
Richard Baker, Head Teacher at Croxteth Community Comprehensive, said: "I have always believed that, in terms of these proposals, we were not given a level playing field.
"This is about choice for parents and future parents and these proposals would limit that choice to Catholic education and single-sex education. Clearly, there ought to be some sort of provision in the local area for a non-faith mixed education."
He added: "We believe our school is the best suited to promoting community cohesion. We need to be small because we are serving a community with a lot of deprivation and, to tackle the issues that arise, you need to know the children and the parents. Bigger schools can't do that and this would be a missed opportunity for the pupils and the entire community."