Two Tower Hamlets primary schools face closure
PUBLISHED: 17:01 24 January 2020 | UPDATED: 17:01 24 January 2020
Two Tower Hamlets primary schools are facing closure because of "significant concern" over falling pupil numbers.
The town hall is proposing to merge Guardian Angels in Mile End with St Anne's Catholic primary school in Whitechapel and Smithy Street with Redlands schools in Stepney.
A report by the council's corporate director of children's services Debbie Jones found the schools would "not have sufficient reception numbers to fill three forms of entry" from September.
It states: "There is significant concern over the long-term sustainability of primary schools in certain parts of the borough, in terms of their falling rolls and the resultant risk to their financial stability.
"The former is a result of demographic changes in the borough where the local demand for school places has fallen and is projected to remain broadly static until 2026/27 and possibly beyond."
The mayor is expected to announce plans to consult on closing Guardian Angels and Smithy Street Primary School at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, January 29.
A preliminary consultation on the closures, as well as drop-in events, were organised over the autumn term but the numbers of people attending "were low".
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The results of the preliminary consultations will be published later this month.
Guardian Angel and St Anne's are both Roman Catholic schools and located in two different catchments areas - Stepney and Bethnal Green.
For majority of the Guardian Angels children, the travel distance to St Anne's would be longer, the council found.
"The diocese and schools' leadership and the local authority are working together to explore possible options to minimise the potential impact of the travel distance on children," the council said.
The move follows the controversial decision to shut the 300-year-old Raine's Foundation School in Bethnal Green.
The secondary school had about 550 pupils, just over half its capacity, and students were moved to nearby Oaklands.
A petition against the closure saw more than 3,000 signatures and Tower Hamlets was embroiled in a legal fight over the plans.
"The council has a duty of care to ensure children in its schools are able to receive a high quality education with access to a full curriculum," Ms Jones' report states.
"A school with a declining roll will be challenged to do this effectively because of inevitable financial pressures from reduced funding."