Swaminarayan School closure: Staff redundacies and subjects wiped off the curriculum

The Swaminarayan School in Neasden

The Swaminarayan School in Neasden - Credit: Archant

More than half the staff at a private faith school in Neasden earmarked to close in 2020 are at risk of being made redundant this year.

The plans, detailed in an email from the chair of governors seen by the Times, would see 51 of 90 employees at the Swaminaran School lose their jobs, 25 of them teaching staff.

Meetings are due to begin next week for those in the firing line.

The proposals would hit all six early years staff, 20 teaching and non-teaching members across the junior and senior schools, and 22 catering, cleaning and kitchen staff. The caretaker, assistant bursar and matron are also at risk.

Another email revealed that some lessons could also be wiped off the curriculum for the school’s remaining life – with performing arts and the teaching of Gujarati at risk of going.

One teacher, who did not wish to be named for fear of reprisal, said: “When the school announced its closure in July 2018, parents were told that, for the pupils remaining at the school until it closed for good, the curriculum would remain exactly the same.

“Parents were asked to pay deposits of £5,000 by the end of January 2019 to secure their child’s place in the school for the academic year 2019-2020.”

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Of performing arts and Gujarati, they said: “These are subjects unique to the school. Parents paid deposits to the school in the understanding that the curriculum will not change.”

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

In June it made the shock announcement it would close within the next two years. It was decided Year 11 and 13 students beginning GCSEs and A-levels in September 2019 would be allowed to continue until their final exams in 2020, with everyone else – from the ages of three upwards – finding a different school.

Governors’ chair Tarun Patel said the school has a “reduced need” for staff due to falling pupil numbers. He added it was inappropriate to add further comments as consultations were in progress.

Brent scrutiny chair Cllr Ketan Sheth said: “It is a terribly difficult time for all those affected and my heart goes out to them.”

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