Roe Green Strathcona: Wembley pupils and striking staff storm Brent Civic Centre against school's proposed closure
PUBLISHED: 09:29 11 July 2019 | UPDATED: 11:06 15 July 2019
Dozens of primary pupils and their striking staff peacefully occupied the steps inside Brent Civic Centre with a loud message that their school should stay open.
Staff, children, parents and union reps supporting Roe Green Strathcona Primary School staged their protest on Wednesday afternoon.
It was the second strike by staff since Brent's cabinet launched a formal consultation on the future of the Strathcona Road school on June 17.
Some 99.4 per cent of people consulted had made objections during an earlier informal consultation, but the council says demand for primary school places is falling and it has a "moral duty to use the limited resources available to best effect for children throughout the borough".
It has already agreed to cut the upper age limit from 11 (Year 6) to seven (Year 2), which teachers said was "setting them up to fail".
As the group sang a campaign song and waved colourful placards, supporters handed out leaflets to those working in the centre and passers-by.
Siluan Buliga, a Year 5 who was there with his mother Oana, said: "I learnt to speak English with the help of the teachers. [...] I am really sad." Oana added: "The school is like a family. From the cooks to the teachers, all the staff work together. The school has been a great support and the children have done very well."
Noreen Ahmed has had children at the school since it opened. She said: "My son has become more confident and opened up since going to Strathcona. They support the whole family as they did when I had health problems. They are like a family."
Mary Adossides, chair of Brent Trades Council, said of the strikers: "Their fight in defence of education and jobs is a remarkable test of their determination to ensure the best for the children of Brent. May they win!"
Lesley Gouldbourne, Brent NEU's secretary, praised the "dignity and unity" of the group.
But Cllr Amer Agha, Brent's education chief, said: "Roe Green Strathcona is accepting new pupils and will continue to do so while the formal consultation is underway.
"By taking a phased approach we hope to minimise disruption to children, their parents and teachers at Roe Green Strathcona.
"If the proposals are accepted the transition would be carefully managed and support will be available to all those affected. [...] We continue to talk to all parties and want to work together."