Now lawyers threaten injunction to stop Tower Hamlets closing Raine’s Foundation school
- Credit: Mike Brooke
Legal action is being taken against Tower Hamlets Council by parents fighting to stop the authority closing down the 300-year-old Raine’s Foundation school.
Lawyers have warned of a High Court injunction—first revealed by the East London Advertiser last week—for scrapping the Year 7 intake and pushing to transfer current pupils to other schools before any public consultations.
The council's head of pupil services was shouted down as he tried explaining the authority's reasons for closing the school at a heated parents' meeting last night.
Details of the legal action were revealed by ex-Chelsea midfielder Mickey Ambrose, who worked at the school for a year and is backing the parents' campaign.
"We're taking legal action because the council started the closure process ahead of any public consultation," he hold the Advertiser.
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"That action has now started with a letter the town hall has received warning them of our intention."
The final decision about the future of the East End's oldest school is due in to be made next February.
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But the council is already handing over the Raine's Lower School building in Old Bethnal Green Road to nearby Oaklands Secondary in August which wants to expand. It has spent £4 million for the Oaklands handover, it has emerged.
The Raine's parents feel under pressure to transfer their children to Oaklands against their will, with 29 youngsters who were offered places in Year 7 in September since having them withdrawn. Yet they were told by the independent adjudicator last night that this would be unlawful as the children accepted for Raine's had a right to go there.
Teachers have also warned parents there would be no Year 10 GCSE group in September, leaving the current Year 9 pupils in limbo.
Parents gave a rousing applause to 14-year-old Matilda Rose who stood up at the meeting and accused the council of destroying her education.
"How do you think this is helping us?" she demanded. "It's only putting a load of stress on us.
"I'm in Year 9 and have been told there's no year 10 in September, so I have no school to go to. I have to leave in three weeks because I can't start my GCSEs which have been ruined because you've messing this up."
Matilda, whose younger brother Zebadee was offered a Year 7 place in September on a sports scholarship, added: "I have three weeks to find a school that I probably won't like. This is only stressing us out and giving us worse GCSE results."
Pupil services head Terry Bryan sat through her furious accusation and said he could "only apologise", then added that he regretted the school with £2m debts having got to a point where the authority had to step in and "take this action".
The town hall wouldn't comment on the threat of an injunction when contacted by the Advertiser, but insisted that "no decision on the school's future has been made at this stage". A spokesman added: "We have taken pragmatic steps to protect children's education for all eventualities while the consultation is still live until July 24."
The council blames the move on falling numbers at the Anglican Diocese school since 2011.
Parents say they've been under pressure to transfer to the non-church Oaklands and were invited to look round on June 6.
But the visit was marred by "racist and religious abuse" from Oaklands pupils in front of the head teacher when they turned up. They were shouted at through a classroom window that they were "scum" and weren't welcome.
This came as a pupil who had transferred to Oaklands from Bishop Challenor Catholic Secondary was beaten up in the street outside, when police were called.
Parents vowed at last night's meeting that they would not send their children to Oaklands if that was how they would be received.