What angry parents plan to do at Tower Hamlets Council over threat to close historic Raine’s School
- Credit: Mike Brooke
Angry parents are to protest in the public gallery at next week’s Tower Hamlets Council meeting to stop the threatened closure of Raine’s Foundation School.
They have written to the Secretary of State and now plan to picket the town hall next Wednesday evening with "Save Raine's" banners and hand in a petition to stop the move to shut down the East End's oldest school founded 300 years ago.
"We really do need to rally the troops," protester Mickey Ambrose told the East London Advertiser. "More and more parents are getting involved and turning up to vent anger at the councillors they voted for.
The former Chelsea midfielder, who worked at Raine's for a year, is backing the parents' steering committee which has hired solicitors and a barrister to take court action to stop the closure plans which were first leaked to the Advertiser in May.
The parents have handed in a petition to the town hall with 2,800 signatures to stop Raine's being closed.
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Their deputation is addressing Wednesday's council meeting, including 14-year-old pupil Matilda Rose who made an impassioned plea to the authority at a parents meeting last month not to "destroy" her education after being told there will be no Year 10 in September for her to start her GCSE studies.
Campaigners warning of court action are calling on the authority to continue "full educational provision in all year" pending the final decision on the school's future which is not due until next February.
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Their lawyers are challenging "flaws in the consultation process" over the future of the Anglican church school in Bethnal Green, which was founded by philanthropist Henry Raine in 1719.
The closure was "going ahead", the council's Pupil Services head Terry Bryan informed two parents' open meetings, with 29 places offered and accepted for September's Year 7 intake having been withdrawn in April and other places stopped before any public consultation.
Mickey Ambrose revealed: "We are gearing up to an injunction or a judicial review because the council hasn't followed the statutory process. They have left parents and pupils stressed with anxiety, not knowing which way to turn."
Campaigners have submitted a complaint to the Secretary of State to intervene over the withdrawn places. But their main aim is halting the process started by the council which is already handing over Raine's Lower School site in Old Bethnal Green Road to nearby Oaklands Secondary next month, after it was emptied out for a £4 million.
The authority wants pupils from the church school to transfer to Oaklands.
Parents were invited to look round Oaklands on June 6, but the visit was marred by "racist and religious abuse" in front of the head teacher when they turned up. They were shouted at that they were "scum" and weren't welcome.
Police were also called during the visit when a pupil who had transferred to Oaklands from another church school was beaten up in the street outside.
Head-teacher Patrice Canavan has declined two invitations from the Advertiser to be interviewed.
The council wouldn't comment on the injunction to stop the Raine's closure, which it blamed on falling numbers since 2011, but insisted "no decision on the school's future has been made at this stage". Consultations which began last month run until July 24.