A high-performing primary school is set to be closed down, despite heartfelt appeals from parents, teachers, pupils and councillors.
It means the school – which was set up to assist the council during an admissions crisis – will no longer accept new pupils in September 2020 and will shut in July 2022.
Several representatives for the school voiced their opposition to the plans at a yesterday’s (September 9) cabinet meeting.
They urged senior councillors to “save the school”, asking them to look beyond “figures on a spreadsheet”.
“We are astounded that none of the arguments we have put forward are under your consideration,” said Gloria Ahmadi, chairman of the school’s governors.
“This is not simply an economic decision – it impacts enormously on people’s lives.
“Pupils and parents want to stay at this school. This is not just number-crunching and figures that we look at – these are children’s lives.”
She accused the council of “poor planning”, given that the school was initially set-up at its request and, just five years later, closure is being discussed.
Executive head teacher Nicole Lobo said the council disregarded responses to the consultation on the issue where “99.8 per cent disagreed with the plans”.
She added it had made it “as difficult as possible to respond” and suggested the council had failed to manage public funds responsibly.
Cllr Daniel Kennelly said it was important to protect schools in the model of Strathcona, which was frequently described as “outstanding” and “like a family”.
He said: “This is the kind of school that we all wanted to see – council-led institutions that accommodate the needs of the most disadvantaged.”
As part of the proposals, the school’s age range will be reduced from 3-11 to 3-7 while, from September 2020, the number of places will drop by 30 to 120.
Council officers explained that each pupil at Strathcona receives around £7,100 in funding from the government’s Dedicated Schools Grant.
This is more than £2,000 more per pupil when compared with the rest of Brent and, according to the council, such disparity motivated the proposed changes.
Cllr Amer Agha, responsible for schools at Brent Council, said this additional funding would be distributed across the borough.
And Brent Council leader Cllr Muhammed Butt said it was the local authority’s responsibility to “make difficult decisions”.
“It gives me no pleasure to look at this report, to look people in the eye and make these choices – but we cannot shy away from it,” he said.
He criticised cuts from central government – suggesting that these have forced the council’s hand – and assured staff and parents that the council would support them going forward.