If the government didn’t direct schools to close, who did?


The government has closed the schools.


It may be a while before we know what the law is here.  In response to businessman Simon Dolan’s judicial review application which, bizarrely, may not be heard for a few months yet, the government has confirmed it did not direct closure of the schools.  It says it only made ‘a request’.

That is a surprise to most people who listened to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Education on 18th March.  Some may wonder if this will become an example in English dictionaries for the meaning of ‘duplicitous’.

In any event, we do know the government has power to order closures (under Part 1 of Schedule 16 to the Coronavirus Act 2020) but has chosen not to exercise that power.  So why aren’t the schools opening?

It is, perhaps, that restrictions on ‘gathering’ of more than [30 in England or 2 households in Wales] were put and remain in place.  Accordingly, gathering of thousands of protesters in Whitehall is unlawful and gatherings of classes of pupils is also, it would seem, unlawful.  Despite this inconvenience, but the government has seemingly chosen to ignore the law on gathering law as if it didn’t exist for children of key workers.

This is a tangled web indeed.


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2 thoughts on “If the government didn’t direct schools to close, who did?”

  1. My children’s primary schools provided totally inadequate home learning, so I have paid for online tuition. I have repeatedly written to the local authority, asking who is accountable for the closing of their schools. I have not had a reply. As they are State schools under the control of the LA, do I have a case of a breach of the Right to Education, under the Human Rights Act?

    1. If you have the patience, you might read the initial judgment in Simon Dolan’s judicial review application and his grounds of claim as a start. Otherwise, I’m afraid to answer that question is beyond the time and resources currently available to this site. Regardless if the answer might be yes, the next practical issue for every business or individual considering legal action, is whether they can afford the time and money costs to pursue the issue.

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