Osmani School's name change to 'Vallance' is halted as Tower Hamlets mayor steps in
PUBLISHED: 22:03 25 January 2017 | UPDATED: 22:24 25 January 2017
Controversial plans to change the Bengali name of a school in east London’s Bangladesh community has been halted now the Mayor of Tower Hamlets has jumped into the row.
Whitechapel’s Osmani Primary has now said it will consult parents on its plan to rename the school ‘Vallance Primary’, following an appeal from Mayor John Biggs not to go ahead with the switch.
The school governors had angered parents with proposals to “re-brand” the under-subscribed school to give it wider appeal in the Vallance Road neighbourhood, in the face of increasing funding shortage.
The mayor called on the governing body to rethink its plans ahead of its meeting last night, asking them to “consult parents before making such a controversial change”.
The council had also debated the issue last Wednesday, with a resolution stressing the importance of the Osmani name to the Bengali community.
“It is only right that parents have the chance to give their views on a big decision like this,” the mayor told the East London Advertiser today. “I am pleased that the governors have taken the decision to consult more widely with parents on changing the name.”
He acknowledged Osmani faces challenges trying to fill empty places, which affects the school’s state funding. The council is offering help to get the school through its crisis of being under-subscribed.
Osmani Primary opened in 1986 on the site of the former Robert Montefiore Secondary and was named after General Muhammed Osmani, who fought in the British Army in the Second World War. He was born in 1918 to an affluent family in Sylhet, in India’s eastern Bengal province, now Bangladesh, who became a civil servant before joining the Army at the outbreak of War. He was a leading figure in Bangladesh independence in 1971.
“Osmani is a respected figure in the community due to his prominent role in Bangladesh independence,” the mayor added. “He was a key figure in the birth of Bangladesh as a nation.”
Parents had complained to the mayor’s office after getting a letter last week from the school announcing the change from next September. The local authority has no power over the governors on a name change, but has used its influence to halt the switch while consultations get under way.