Parent campaigner backs closure of half-empty Islington school

A PARENT has spoken out in favour of closing an undersubscribed primary school – even though hundreds of children will be forced to change schools.

Makeba Rogers, 37, was so fed up with the run-down state of Moreland Primary School that she petitioned Islington Council to improve it.

But after the 100-strong petition was submitted, the council announced that it wanted to close down Moreland in Goswell Road, Finsbury, and transfer pupils to the outstanding-rated St Luke’s Church of England School.

Ms Rogers believes the move would be good for Moreland pupils, who are currently studying at a leaking 1960s school that is only rated satisfactory by Ofsted inspectors.

She said: “I’m actually for the school being put together with St Luke’s. I think the petition really got the ball rolling. “There are less and less children here because parents are taking their children out. We have got a big site and an empty school – let’s face it, it’s true. Moreland has got a reputation, a negative reputation.”

Moreland is among the schools with the most vacant places in Islington – only filling 49 per cent of its 60 reception places in 2009, and just 45 per cent in 2010. In contrast, St Luke’s regularly gets 90-plus applications for its 30 reception places.

Islington Council plans to demolish both Moreland and St Luke’s and build a new and expanded St Luke’s School on Moreland’s Goswell Road site.

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St Luke’s Radnor Street site would then be turned over to housing – 50 per cent luxury flats and 50 per cent affordable homes – to pay for the �16million scheme.

Many Moreland parents are unhappy – with Muslim parents particularly worried about their children attending a CofE school, even though St Luke’s already caters for at least 20 Muslim families.

But Ms Rogers said: “There are quite a lot of Muslims here who are disagreeing. But I don’t see why they should disagree because there are going to be spaces for Christians and spaces for Muslims and other faiths, so I don’t see what the big problem would be.”

Other parents and staff have spoken out the proposed closure.

Tina Abiodun, a nursery nurse at Moreland, said: “It’s totally unfair. I think the teachers are doing a really great job. All my children have gone there. I think this is the best school ever in Islington so to say they’re closing it completely is like they’re piercing Moreland’s heart with a knife.”

Mum Aferdata Meta, 33, added: “I don’t want them to close the school because the staff are lovely. My son likes it here and moving will be very stressful for him.”

The council intends to consult on the plans over the coming year. If given the go-ahead, the new school would open in 2013.