Plans to close Islington school ditched in dramatic council U-turn

CONTROVERSIAL plans to shut down a struggling primary school have been ditched by Islington Council after a storm of protest from parents.

Islington Council announced last October that it wanted to demolish Moreland School in Goswell Road, Finsbury, and transfer its pupils to a new and enlarged St Luke’s Church of England school, in Radnor Street, Finsbury.

Parents at Moreland reacted angrily to the idea and the head of governors accused the council of “stabbing the school in the back”.

But it was the governors at St Luke’s, which is rated outstanding and is three times oversubscribed, who pressured the council into finally abandoning the merger this week - and instead opting for a federation.

Councillor Richard Watts, Islington Council’s executive member for children and young people, said: “Both schools will keep separate identities and separate names but they will share one headteacher and board of governors.

“Moreland will get a new building on its current site alongside something like 100 new homes, and this proposal would ensure that it will also benefit from the outstanding leadership and governance at St Luke’s.

“The nervousness of the St Luke’s governors about increasing the size of their school was probably the biggest influence on the decision. They had a school that they were extremely happy with and they didn’t want to change it.

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“The parents at Moreland essentially wanted to keep a secular school so we hope they will be pleased with this arrangement too.”

The new proposal will be discussed at the next meeting of Islington Council’s executive on May 19 and parents at both schools will be consulted. The federation is likely to come into effect for the beginning of the next school year in September.

St Luke’s headteacher Ann Dwulit, who will take over running of both schools, said: “We are all looking forward to the prospect of working with Moreland and to sharing high expectations for every child across both schools.

“I know that the Moreland parents, staff and governors share our commitment as together we seek to make a real difference to the lives of children in our EC1 community.

“We have a lot of hard work ahead but I’m sure that both schools will go from strength to strength.”

Councillor Terry Stacy, leader of Islington Liberal Democrats, said: “This is some good news - finally - for parents, pupils and staff at both schools. The council has at last listened.

“The federation option is a good compromise, which will allow each school to keep its own identity and ethos. This is a real community victory.

“Sadly, the council could have saved itself a lot of time, energy and money on a proposal that was going nowhere. All they have done is generate months of uncertainty and worry with their doomed closure plans.”