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Mayor vows to 'thoroughly scrutinise' plans to close the East End's oldest school

PUBLISHED: 16:40 23 May 2019 | UPDATED: 16:47 23 May 2019

Raine's Foundation School facing closure after 300 years by Tower Hamlets Council. Picture: Mike Brooke

Raine's Foundation School facing closure after 300 years by Tower Hamlets Council. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

Plans to close down the East End's oldest school will be "thoroughly scrutinised", the mayor of Tower Hamlets has said.

Ambrose with Tower Hamlets opposition councillor Rabina Khan (left) and the mum who started the petition to save Raine's School, Laura Gibson. Picture: Mike BrookeAmbrose with Tower Hamlets opposition councillor Rabina Khan (left) and the mum who started the petition to save Raine's School, Laura Gibson. Picture: Mike Brooke

Proposals to shut Raine's Foundation School in Bethnal Green were leaked on social media before parents were officially told at a meeting on May 7 - just 24 hours before the school celebrated its 300th anniversary at a ceremony in St Paul's Cathedral.

The school has around 550 pupils and students face having to move to nearby Oaklands School if the facility is closed down.

A petition set up against the closure by former pupil and ex-staff member Laura Gibson has already gained more than 2,500 signatures.

The closure plans were due to be discussed at Tower Hamlets Council's cabinet meeting yesterday, however the item was removed from the agenda at the last minute.

Ambrose with Tower Hamlets opposition councillor Rabina Khan (left) and the mum who started the petition to save Raine's School, Laura Gibson. Picture: Mike BrookeAmbrose with Tower Hamlets opposition councillor Rabina Khan (left) and the mum who started the petition to save Raine's School, Laura Gibson. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mayor John Biggs said: "There has been some understandable unhappiness about the proposals. The school has clearly faced some difficulty and there will be a consultation and officers are engaged in that. It was an administrative error of sorts that it was listed for [the cabinet meeting].

"We do need to get a move on talking to parents and this will come back to cabinet several times in the future where it will be thoroughly scrutinised."

Councillor James King, chair of the council's scrutiny committee, added they were "keen to see the impact assessments of the proposal".

Raine's Foundation School was set up in 1719 by wealth Wapping philanthropist Henry Raine's.

Mayor John Biggs will 'thoroughly scrutinise the plans'. Picture: Rehan JamilMayor John Biggs will 'thoroughly scrutinise the plans'. Picture: Rehan Jamil

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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.

Mayor John Biggs will 'thoroughly scrutinise the plans'. Picture: Rehan JamilMayor John Biggs will 'thoroughly scrutinise the plans'. Picture: Rehan Jamil

It was also rated as "requires improvement" by Ofsted during an inspection in 2017.

Former Chelsea and Charlton footballer Micky Ambrose has started a campaign to save the school.

Mr Ambrose, who previously taught at Raine's, said: "Parents are furious about this. They have no idea whether they will have to find a new school for their children in September.

"The staff, who have built up a rapport with students, face losing their jobs. The school has just been left to deteriorate. Someone should have stepped in years ago to help."

A four-week public consultation is due to start in June.

To sign the petition visit here.

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