Parents, students and former students of a failing Bethnal Green school which is set to close have accused education authorities of leaving pupils out in the cold and vulnerable.
Pupils who have already been moved from Raines Foundation School to different schools including the non-faith schools Oaklands School in Bethnal Green, and Bow School in Bromley-by-Bow are being bullied and are struggling academically, a public consultation was told earlier this week.
Raines, has suffered with growing debts and falling pupil numbers and standards for the last few years. Despite many parents campaigning to keep the school open, Tower Hamlets Council is set to close the school in August 2020. As a result, only 217 out of a potential 1050 pupils are enrolled for this year.
Mathilda Rose, aged 15, from Stepney Green, who has moved to Bow Secondary School told council officials at the meeting: “You [the Local Authority] promised me that I’d get support if I went to a new school, but I have had no support at all. You forced me out of Raines, I’ve been called so many names like ‘Raines kick-out.’ The only thing Bow teachers say to me is ‘Is Bow better than Raines?’ I don’t know the curriculum and had to take a Tech GCSE, even though I’ve done it before.”
Several parents whose children either recently left Raines or will have to following its likely closure, echoed her concerns about pupils getting targeted with muggings and assaults because of ‘postcode wars.’
Laura Gibson, 37, from Bethnal Green: “My child is still at Raines and lives in E14, I cannot send them to Mulberry School – they will get stabbed. You cannot just ship kids to other boroughs in this current climate.”
However, some other ex-pupils are said to have settled in very well. Sharon Adams, 60, from Poplar said: “My granddaughter moved to Oaklands for Year 12 and she loves it. She’s with a few of her mates, she says pupils are generally friendly. Maybe it’s because they’re older.”
During the meeting it was also claimed that Tower Hamlerts, the Church of England and the interim board governing Raines have not been acting on these wellbeing issues.
Jackie Warner, 61, from Bow, who works at Raines, said: “A lot of children can’t speak out, they don’t have established relationships with the teachers at their new schools. There needs to be someone going to the different schools and check the safeguarding.”
Christine McInnes, Head of Education Partnerships at Tower Hamlets, said there were safeguarding processes in place that involves meeting with head teachers who are taking in pupils and ensuring there is pastoral care in place.
Debbie Jones, Director of Children’s Services, added: “We’re very proud of safeguarding in Tower Hamlets … however there will always be things to address.”
The responses were attacked by Josh Babarinde, the Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow, said: “Your answers have not reflected the seriousness of them…Disastrous consequences can result if you don’t act…people are slipping through the net.”
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Statutory Notice issued by the council last week which detailed why Raines should be closed and how the governing body intend to manage the situation.
Residents have until December 2 to respond to the notice by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.