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Roe Green Strathcona: Closure threat to Wembley primary school could see staff go on strike

PUBLISHED: 15:46 18 June 2019 | UPDATED: 21:29 18 June 2019

Barry Gardiner MP supports Roe Green Strathcona staff and pupils against school closure consultation

Barry Gardiner MP supports Roe Green Strathcona staff and pupils against school closure consultation

Archant

Staff at a Wembley primary school are to go on strike next week after cabinet chiefs agreed to formally consult on plans to close the site despite overwhelming opposition.

Barry Gardiner, Brent North MPBarry Gardiner, Brent North MP

Staff, parents and Preston ward councillors came to defend Roe Green Strathcona School (RGS) at the meeting on Monday threatening strike action if a new consultation went ahead.

But cabinet members steamed ahead, countering redundancy fears with less than specific reassurances such as "staff retention is a priority", and saying a formal consultation would "give people a say".

RGS deputy head Liz McLaren told the meeting that 99.4 per cent of people voted against the plans in the council's informal consultation which was a "clear majority".

She also questioned discrepancies between council figures in reports over alleged funding, which council chiefs said they would "look at".

Barry Gardiner MP supports Roe Green Strathcona staff and pupils against school closure consultationBarry Gardiner MP supports Roe Green Strathcona staff and pupils against school closure consultation

The school in Strathcona Road has only been open since 2014. Roe Green Infant School had come to Brent's aid at a time of rising primary school demands and agreed to run a separate site, Roe Green Junior School, in Kingsbury, on a temporary basis.

To increase school capacity Brent gave the school permanent status in 2016.

But now, claiming there are falling primary school demands, Brent is reducing the lower age limit from four to seven years old, with no reception pupils enrolled from September 2020.

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Brent North MP Barry Gardiner (Lab) sent the cabinet a hard-hitting letter following a meeting he had with parents and staff on June 6.

He said he was "deeply concerned" about a move to formal consultation which "is flawed on every level".

He listed discrepancies including the school "having its very existence airbrushed from the council admissions website." while the town hall alleged there were falling admissions.

Chair of governors Gloria Amadi said: "Parents have grave concerns about the planned closure.

"This process has already started, with children not being admitted. Parents are very unhappy about the effect it will have on their children."

Executive head Nicole Lobo asked a series of questions including why Brent had expanded other schools and why planning permission had been granted to build Ark Somerville Primary school, also in Wembley, by 2023.

Lesley Gouldbourne, of the National Education Union in Brent, warned of strike action.

She added: "The Strathcona staff put the children of Brent first when they were asked to. Now it's time for Brent Council to repay that debt and put the staff of Strathcona first."

Cllr Muhammed Butt, council and cabinet leader, said: "Education and schooling is something we all hold dear to our hearts. We need to have a full discussion to ensure that we take the right steps going forward.

"Today we are only talking about starting that conversation."

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