LETTER: Closure was wrong option

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The Independent Online
From Cllr Kevin Daws

Sir: Further to your leading article "Orphans of a dead school" (1 November), I would like to take issue with your statement that Hackney Downs School should have been closed several years ago. The Liberal Democrats in this borough have consistently opposed the closure of Hackney Downs School for three main reasons.

First, we objected to the fact that during the original consultation process, the only option offered was closure. Second, it was dishonest for the Local Education Authority to give falling school rolls as a reason for closure when it was they who decided not to allow a year-seven entry in 1994. And third, there is overwhelming support from parents, pupils, teachers and the community for Hackney Downs School to remain open.

While Hackney Downs School had problems, these were being tackled; the Ofsted inspection in March of this year showed that the school was achieving the action plan agreed with the Department for Education.

Hackney Downs is not the only school in Hackney to have problems or to have received a bad Ofsted report. I cannot believe the only solution is to close every school that gets a bad Ofsted report, and to encourage even more children to go to schools outside the borough - more than 30 per cent currently do so.

It is outrageous that the school has been closed against the wishes of parents, teachers, governors, the community and the children themselves. Gillian Shephard should stop playing politics with the future of our children.

Yours,

Kevin Daws

Leader of the Opposition

(Lib Dem)

London Borough of Hackney

London, EC1

1 November

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