Harrow charity evicts school for black children

One of the few black-run schools in Britain has lost its David and Goliath fight against eviction to a charity founded by a top public school.

The Tabernacle Christian School, which works with disaffected black children in north Kensington, west London, was evicted from its premises yesterday after a long legal battle with its landlord, the Harrow Club, a charity founded by Harrow public school.

Parents and teachers had staged a round-the-clock occupation of the school since its lease expired in February before it had had time to find alternative premises. They slept in the school for fear the landlords might change the locks if the building was left empty.

Tabernacle specialises in educating young people who have struggled at or been expelled from mainstream schools. Pastor Derek Wilson, the school's chairman, fears the school will have to close unless it can find new premises, jeopardising the education of more than 40 pupils.

The school, which charges £275 a month, had appealed for extra time to find new buildings.

The school was founded in September 1998 by a black evangelical church, offering a second chance for pupils failing in state schools.

After starting with three pupils, the Tabernacle had expanded to take more than 40. Tabernacle pupils do not study towards conventional public exams such as GCSEs. Instead they follow the curriculum of the School of Tomorrow, a Christian fundamentalist organisation that runs schools.

The Harrow Club, a charity set up by Harrow school in 1883 to do missionary work and educate the poor, had refused to renew the school's lease because it wants to use the building for its own community work. It will use the space to expand its recording studios, which give young unemployed people experience of the music industry.

Mr Wilson's wife, Paulette, Tabernacle's headteacher, said the school had searched for new premises for more than a year. She said: "This school is providing a last chance for these children. The closure of this school would be a great loss to these children and the community."

Roger Graham, a sales and marketing manager from Hayes, west London whose son Matthew, three, is a Tabernacle pupil, said he was devastated by the eviction.

He said: "I am very upset because the Harrow Club is destroying something that is so good. The teachers here are fantastic. The development of my boy has been fantastic too. His vocabulary and confidence have grown since he started last October."

Funlola Ojomo, from Edgware, north-west London, had slept at the school for the past two nights in an effort to keep it open. Her daughters Afope, six, and Ife, four, are pupils at the school.

She said: "I think it's disgusting that we have been thrown out into the streets without the children having a permanent building to go to. This is not the way to treat a school that develops the youth for the country."

The school plans to use a temporary site in nearby Notting Hill until the end of July when exams finish.

The school enlisted the support of the Prince of Wales, who wrote to David Elleray, the football referee and chairman of the Harrow Club, to raise the school's concerns. In a letter to the school, the Prince's private secretary, Mark Bolland, wrote: "His Royal Highness admires the commitment and dedication you have to your school."

George Bennett, a spokesman for the Harrow Club, said the school had been told last June that its lease would not be renewed because the building was needed for new community projects.

He said: "Harrow Club is just relieved that this has come to an end as it is putting other projects in jeopardy."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
people
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Sport
football
News
i100
News
Perry says: 'Psychiatrists give help because they need help. You would not be working in mental health if you didn't have a curiosity about how the mind works.'
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?