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Swaminarayan School closure: Angry scenes at packed meeting as parents react to shock news private Hindu school will shut

PUBLISHED: 17:58 28 June 2018 | UPDATED: 09:51 29 June 2018

Angry scenes at the Swaminarayan School on Tuesday night. Picture: Martin Francis/Wembley Matters

Angry scenes at the Swaminarayan School on Tuesday night. Picture: Martin Francis/Wembley Matters

Archant

Angry parents were caught on video pushing and shoving a Swaminarayan School trustee as a heated meeting about its shock closure drew to a close.

The scenes on Tuesday night were obtained by blogger Martin Francis and have been viewed hundreds of times – but governor and spokesman Tarun Patel insisted the two-hour panel was largely peaceful and that parents were simply “releasing emotion”.

It came the day after a surprise announcement that the private Hindu school in Brentfield Road would shut for most pupils in July 2019, and for final-year GCSE and A-level students 12 months later. Fees are up to £4,310 a term, but the school has been struggling financially and its leaders told parents in a letter on Monday it could no longer make ends meet.

The meeting the following day was for parents of kids at the prep school, which is set to have about 220 pupils next year.

That compares with 150 at the senior school, where parents are set to attend their own meeting tonight.

The Swaminarayan School in Neasden.The Swaminarayan School in Neasden.

“When news like this is announced, people are going to be slightly emotional,” Mr Patel told the Times this afternoon. “People have different ways of releasing that emotion and that’s perfectly understandable.

“It wasn’t as if it was so out of hand. It was just that it was emotions that were coming out. We had to allow time for people to digest that information and process it and try to come to terms with it.”

Asked about the man who was caught in the middle of the scrum, he said: “It was the chair of the board of trustees. He was trying to leave the hall and it was just a little bit of resistance from some of the parents.

“The video paints a particular bit of it.

“The hall was very packed – it was a small hall and a lot of parents came. The majority of the prep school parents were there.”

The film shows people shouting “let him go” as he struggles through the group.

Are you affected by the school’s closure? E-mail us with your views: ramzy.alwakeel@archant.co.uk.

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