Swaminarayan School could close this year after all – as student numbers dwindle

The Swaminarayan School in Neasden is considering becoming a free school.

The Swaminarayan School in Neasden is considering becoming a free school. - Credit: Archant

One of Brent’s top performing schools could close earlier than planned due to dwindling student numbers.

Staff at the Swaminarayan School in Neasden were told at a meeting last week redundancies are a real possibility ahead of the 2019/20 academic year, if pupil numbers continue to decline.

Governor Yogesh Patel had told this newspaper days earlier that “the school will be open for the next academic year”, but insisted “what shape that takes will be determined by pupil numbers in each year group”.

Originally it had been decided that Year 11 and 13 students beginning GCSE and A-level studies in September 2019 would be allowed to continue up until their final exams in July 2020, with everyone else – from the ages of three upwards – finding a different school.

The £4,310-a-term Hindu school, which made the shock announcement it was closing by 2020 in June last year, hopes to have a clearer indication of its future after it has corresponded with all parents by the end of this month.

In terms of redundancies, the school will be consulting with selected members of staff by mid-February.

The school has been open since 1992 in Brentfield Road, in the shadow of Neasden Temple, officially known as BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir.

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Cllr Ketan Sheth (Lab, Tokyngton), who chairs Brent Council’s community and wellbeing scrutiny committee, told the Kilburn Times: “It is incredibly sad that the trustees are closing the school and assigning it to the history books.

“This is a unique and hugely successful school – it was only recently ago that the school was ranked as one of the top schools in the Sunday Times Parent Power League Table, which followed yet another year of fantastic GCSE and A-level results and, indeed, successful regulatory inspiration report.

According to Cllr Sheth, the Stanmore Temple is hoping to open an independent prep school on the grounds next year, subject to authorisation from the Department of Education and planning permission from Brent Council.

“This will provide some comfort to pupils, parents, teachers and the community,” he said.

But the Stanmore Temple has not responded to the Times regarding this matter at the time of going to press despite repeated approaches.