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BERKSHIRE CC'S STUDY GRANT DECISION CHALLENGED

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A 'highly gifted' 16 year-old girl denied an education grant to study drama at a prestigious London college, has wo...
A 'highly gifted' 16 year-old girl denied an education grant to study drama at a prestigious London college, has won the right to a high court review of the decision.

Laurna Harvey, who at secondary school won awards for being the 'most promising senior' in her year, is challenging Berkshire CC's refusal to fund her place at the London Studio Centre where she is due to start her studies in September.

Mr Justice Forbes boosted her hopes when he opened the way for a full judicial review of her complaints.

'I am persuaded that there is an arguable case here,' said the judge, ordering that the case take priority in busy court lists and be heard as a matter of urgency.

Miss Harvey was refused a discretionary award for the three-year course by the county council on August 7 last year.

The council said its policy was not to award discretionary grants to students of dance, drama or theology unless applications were supported by the 'the strong and unreserved recommendation of the relevant county advisor'.

Miss Harvey had her internal appeal dismissed on August 29 and the council again confirmed its decision in October. Her counsel, Paul Diamond, told the court the case was an exceptional one and, if she did not qualify for a discretionary grant, then it was hard to see who could.

The council had failed to clearly set out the criteria by which her grant application had been assessed and found not to justify an exception to the general policy, he said.

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