Labour contests Council’s school closure decision
Labour Councillors have “called in” Westminster Council’s decision to agree the closure of Westminster Cathedral Primary School and merge it with St Vincent De Paul school from this September. The decision has been driven by a fall in the number of pupils at both schools, but there are significant concerns in the community about the decision.
The proposed closure of one school and merger with the other was strongly opposed by parents during the consultation process. Labour Councillors feel too many questions remained unanswered about the merger and want full scrutiny of the decision before a much loved local school is closed.
A ‘call-in’ is a mechanism for councillors to ask for a decision the council has taken to be looked at again. A special scrutiny meeting will be held in public to review the decision on Monday 7 March at 6.30pm at City Hall, Victoria Street. This will decide whether further action is necessary or allow the decision to stand.
Labour Councillors have a number of questions, including concerns over how school site was chosen over the other. This is important because local residents will pick up the bill for the deficit of the school that closes. In the case of Westminster Cathedral School the deficit is over £400,000. They also want assurances on issues from school uniform costs to siblings potentially being split across two sites in the first year of the merger.
David Parton, Labour Council candidate for Vincent Square ward said:
“Education is a social good and ensuring all our children have access to learning in the communities they live in is something we can hopefully all agree on. But when it comes to the schools in Vincent Square, the Council leadership’s handling of this merger has been chaotic at best, and mean-spirited at worst.
“Too many questions from parents, pupils and teachers are still unanswered. Until these concerns are addressed and appropriate assurances given, we cannot support the Council’s closure and merger of these schools.”
Councillor Tim Roca, Shadow Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said:
“Mergers should be a last resort and pupils must come first. We have called in this decision to merge the schools as too many questions remain. We need to understand fully how we reached this point, achieve guarantees for the education of local children, and make sure local residents aren’t unnecessarily left picking up a £400,000 bill.”