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January 4, 2008: Parents in Bookham, Fetcham and Effingham have failed to win a judicial review of changes to admission rules for the Howard of Effingham comprehensive school.

The parents were outraged when a government admissions adjudicator upheld changes to Surrey County Council's (SCC's) rules to make admission to the Howard easier for pupils from Horsley than those from the three nearer villages.

The Bookham and other parents formed a group, 'Don't Drive Our Children Away' (DDOCA) to publicise the issue and raise money for a legal campaign. the first step was to seek a judicial review of the adjudicator's decision. "We are the first group of parents to privately fund a judicial review," says the DDOCA.

On December 14 Mr Justice Sullivan refused the application in the High Court on the grounds that the application had been filed too late. The judge noted that the adjudicator had changed the rules on September 27. But the DDOCA had not filed its application until November 29, when the admissions process was already well under way.

"The refusal was not based on a flaw in our argument," said the DDOCA. "Obviously this is a big disappointment to the communities of Bookham, Effingham and Fetcham but the fight does not end there.

"The Don't Drive Our Children Away team are raising complaints under the parliamentary government ombudsman system and a number of other initiatives for 2008 admissions which are still being worked on."

The admissions policy will change again in 2009, the statement added.

For more information visit the DDOCA website.

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