Protest to take place outside the East End’s oldest school that is facing closure
- Credit: Mike Brooke
Parents and teachers are planning to protest plans to shut down the East End’s oldest school at a rally next week.
Crowds will gather outside Raine's Foundation school between 3-5pm next Friday to demonstrate against the closure of the 300-year-old facility.
Tower Hamlets Council's plan to shut the school in Bethnal Green was leaked on social media before parents were officially told at a meeting on May 7 - just 24 hours before staff celebrated its 300th anniversary at a ceremony in St Paul's Cathedral.
The Church of England school has around 550 pupils and students face having to move to nearby Oaklands School if it is closed down.
Former Chelsea midfielder Mickey Ambrose, who has also worked at the school, said: "Parents are completely in the dark.
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"They have no idea where their children will be going to school next year. The council needs to give them some answers."
Tower Hamlets Council said a consultation into the plans will start on Monday.
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The borough's mayor John Biggs has also assured parents the plans will be "thoroughly scrutinised" by his administration.
A petition set up against the closure by former pupil and ex-staff member Laura Gibson has already gained thousands of signatures.
Liberal Democrat councillor Rabina Khan said: "It's worrying that a Church of England school might be closed and then merged with a school that has no official religious character.
"What was the reasoning behind the choice of Oaklands and not Sir John Cass?
"Sir John Cass is a Church of England school and it would have been more appropriate to amalgamate both these schools.
"And if that had not been possible why was their not an option for Raine's to be turned into an Academy? There are a lot of questions that need answering."
Raine's Foundation School was set up in 1719 by wealth Wapping philanthropist Henry Raine's.
The Church of England school caters for children aged 11 to 18 and comes under the spiritual guidance of the Diocese of London.
In 2006 it received £17million to pay for refurbishment to the lower and upper schools.
But it has faced falling students numbers in recent years and currently has 558 pupils on its register out of 911 places.
It was also rated as "requires improvement" by Ofsted during an inspection in 2017.