Raine's parents ready for tonight's showdown meeting at Oaklands
PUBLISHED: 10:00 19 June 2019
Angry parents fighting to save the East End's 300-year-old Raine's Foundation School from being closed down are turning up for a consultation meeting tonight at the alternative school they don't want their children transferred to.
The consultation over the closure is being staged by Tower Hamlets Council at Bethnal Green's Oaklands Secondary which is set to take over Raine's and its pupils.
But the parents have already had enough of Oaklands after being invited by head teacher Patrice Canavan to look round on June 6—only to face abuse from unruly pupils and a fight outside the gates where police were called.
"It was intimidating," one Raine's mum who witnessed it, Kim Hiscock, told the East London Advertiser. "They were swearing at our children and shouting that they weren't welcome.
"I dread to think what it would be like for any Raine's pupils that go there.
"I've made my mind up that my son won't go to Oaklands if Raine's closes."
They have set up as steering group to campaign to save Raine's, claiming the school has been deliberately run down over the years to a point where pupil numbers are now down to half.
Their anger will be felt at tonight's open consultation at 6pm at Oaklands in Old Bethnal Green Road.
It follows a banner protest last Friday outside Raine's itself in Approach Road, a mile away near Victoria Park.
Another consultation meeting is planned on June 26 at Raine's—but clashes on the same night as the council's cabinet meeting which parents want to lobby.
The closure plans affect whole families. Mum-of-four Gloria McCormack's Year 9 daughter Mathilda was about to start GCSE studies, but has been told to find another school because there aren't enough pupils in her year group. Gloria's 11-year-old son Zebedee won a place to start in September, but has also been told he can't go after all.
Mathilda, who joined her mum at Friday's protest, said: "To close a Church of England school and put us in a non-church school is disrespectful. My education has now been disrupted."
Speakers addressing tonight's consultation include the council's education director Christine McInnes and corporate director Debbie Jones, the merger steering group's chair Alan Parker and Raine's London Diocese member Inigo Woolf as well as governors from both schools.
Letters have been sent out to Raine's pupils offering places at Oaklands.
But the parents have told the Advertiser they plan to tell them at tonight's meeting exactly what they can do with the offers.