A JUDICIAL review hearing surrounding the restructure of South Somerset schools is taking place today (October 14) and tomorrow (October 15).

Two families were granted permission to challenge a school closure and restructure of the education system in Ilminster and Crewkerne.

Families instructed specialist education lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to bring the judicial review against Somerset County Council’s (SCC) decision, arguing that the council’s plans were unlawful.

SCC's proposed plans to change its three-tier education system of first, middle and upper schools to a two-tier model for primary and secondary schools were approved earlier this year.

The council said the decision to reorganise the schools was due to a reduction in pupil numbers.

READ MORE: Schools restructure plans in Crewkerne and Ilminster approved

The hearing at the High Court in Cardiff begins today and is expected to last two days.

READ MORE: Legal challenge launched against schools restructure plans in Ilminster and Crewkerne

The first case concerns the family for child one (the families cannot be named for legal reasons), whose daughter attends Misterton Church of England First School, which is set to close under the proposals.

The second case involves the family for child two, whose son attends Greenfylde First School. They are challenging the merging of non-faith Swanmead Community School, with Greenfylde First School to create a split-site Church of England primary school.

In addition to the shared grounds for judicial review, the second case argues that merging Swanmead and Greenfylde resulting in a faith school is discriminatory against those with no religious beliefs, so therefore is in breach of the Equality Act and the Human Rights Act.

Rachael Smurthwaite, the public law and human rights lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: “We have been instructed to challenge the consultation process which has resulted in the local authority making a decision to close and restructure schools in South Somerset and both families are pleased that their concerns and the decisions taken by the council will now be scrutinised by judicial review.

“The families have real worries over the impact the proposed changes will have on their children and the wider community and feel the public consultations were unfair and premeditated.

“Schools are at the heart of rural communities, which has spurred these families on to ensure their concerns are fully examined and welcome the start of the hearing.”

It is not yet clear when the results of the review will be announced. SCC are happy to provide a comment once the decision has been made.