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Whitechapel's Osmani School parents reject governors' name-change

PUBLISHED: 16:27 01 March 2017 | UPDATED: 16:27 01 March 2017

Whitechapel's Osmani School

Whitechapel's Osmani School

Archant

Parents have voted overwhelmingly to keep the name of Osmani primary school in the heart of East London's Bengali community against the governors' decision to change it to an English name.

The controversial move to switch the name to ‘Vallance’ led to protests in January and a fierce debate at Tower Hamlets Council.

Even the mayor, who admitted he had no powers over the school’s affairs, got involved and urged the governors to think again.

The governors agreed to ask parents’ views.

The school, opened in 1986, is named after General Muhammed Osmani who fought in the British Army in the Second World War and later in the 1971 War of Bangladesh Independence. He was born in 1918 to an affluent family in Sylhet in eastern India, now Bangladesh.

Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs today welcomed the parents voting 236 to 44 to retain the name.

“I am glad they’ve had their say and sent a clear message to the school governors,” he said. “I hope the governors listen to them and abandon their plans once and for all.”

The governors believe the name change to Vallance Primary would widen the school’s marketing appeal and help make sure it can meet future educational needs of the entire community.

Governors’ chairman Mike Tyler said in a statement to the East London Advertiser at the time: “There is intense competition for pupils among schools in the area. We need to be as open and inclusive as possible to attract new parents.”

The nursery intake this year is down by 23 children from last year, he pointed out, which reduces the state funding. The school will shrink to half its size in six years, governors fear, if the intake remains static.

But the ballot of parents has shown overwhelming support to keep the Osmani name.

The governors meet on March 28 for the final decision on whether to press ahead with the change or kep it as it is.

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