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'Your children can join Raine's school in September' parents told by lawyers

PUBLISHED: 07:00 30 July 2019 | UPDATED: 08:07 30 July 2019

Pupils start their own petition to stop the East End's oldest school, Raine's Foundation, being closed down. Picture: Mike Brooke

Pupils start their own petition to stop the East End's oldest school, Raine's Foundation, being closed down. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

Parents fighting the closure of Raine's Foundation School can legally sign their children up for the new term in September, their lawyers have told them.

Matilda Rose, 14, (far right) fighting to keep 300-year-old Raine's Foundation going... protesting with her family and younger brother Zebadee (far left) who wants to join Year 7. Picture: Mike BrookeMatilda Rose, 14, (far right) fighting to keep 300-year-old Raine's Foundation going... protesting with her family and younger brother Zebadee (far left) who wants to join Year 7. Picture: Mike Brooke

That means the new Year 7 must go ahead after its aborted closure attempt by Tower Hamlets Council which is also legally bound to make sure there is a Year 10 for GCSE students.

The 29 youngsters offered places in March for Year 7 who had them withdrawn a month later can now legally go to Raine's.

This is in the face of the council's head of pupil services, Terry Bryan, announcing at two parents' meetings in May that the school was closing and there would be no Year 7 or Year 10 after the summer holidays, even before public consultations began.

But the Irwin Mitchell law firm hired by the parents appears to have forced a U-turn.

Head of pupil services Terry Bryan announcing at a parents’ meeting in May that Raine's was closing... even before public consultations. Picture: Mike BrookeHead of pupil services Terry Bryan announcing at a parents’ meeting in May that Raine's was closing... even before public consultations. Picture: Mike Brooke

They have told campaigners: "You need to consider the information to persuade parents and pupils that there is a viable school in place and it's not a pre-determined consultation.

"The council has agreed to enrol Year 7 and let senior pupils remain who want to take up their places in September. The school is open to all pupils."

The move has brought some temporary relief to embattled parents who claimed the authority had put them under pressure to transfer children from the Anglican church school to the secular Oaklands Secondary in Bethnal Green.

Ex-Chelsea footballer Mickey Ambrose, who worked at Raine's for a year and is backing the campaign, said: "The council telephoned 75 parents telling them there won't be a Year 10.

Mickey Ambrose... Mickey Ambrose... "Any pupil wishing to join Raine's can start in September." Picture: Mike Brooke

"But our lawyers have confirmed that any pupil wishing to join Years 7 and Year 10 can start in September."

Meanwhile, the High Court Queen's Bench Division is considering a judicial review application by the parents to halt the closure.

One pupil, 14-year-old Matilda Rose, actually stood up at a parents' meeting with the pupil services chief and accused the council of "destroying" her education after being told she would have no Year 10 to join to start her GCSEs. Her younger brother Zebadee was offered a Year 7 place on a sports scholarship when the offer was withdrawn.

The council blames the move on falling numbers at the Anglican Diocese school since 2011. The authority announced in April plans to close it, long before any public consultation and almost a year before any final decision on Raine's future is to be made.

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