Published: 15 October, 2010
by PETER GRUNER
PARENTS have erupted in anger over plans to close a popular primary school.
Moreland primary school, off Goswell Road in Finsbury, is to be shut and the pupils transferred to nearby St Luke’s.
This week’s announcement was met with shock by Moreland parents, who only recently petitioned Islington Council to improve their school.
Children will be housed in temporary classrooms at St Luke’s while a new £6million school is built on the old Moreland school site. Both schools’ children will be transferred back to the new school which will be called St Luke’s while the old St Luke’s site will make way for housing.
Daniela Vaccaro-Sodena, mother of Moreland pupil Noah, aged five, is a former pupil of the school herself. She said: “We know Moreland has its physical problems but why knock it down? It’s a good school. Why can’t it be refurbished?”
Moreland’s buildings are believed to be in a poor state and with 180 pupils is currently only half full. It has capacity for a two-form entry but has been consistently under-subscribed over recent years with a surplus capacity this year of 55 per cent.
St Luke’s, on the other hand, is described as “an outstanding” one-form entry school with 180 pupils. Every year at least 60 children who apply to the Radnor Street school are refused a place because there are not enough spaces. Its present site is too small to build a larger school.
A formal consultation on the Moreland site proposals will begin in January but no building work would start before 2012.
Housing would be built on the old St Luke’s site and some of the Moreland site too.
Labour councillor Claudia Webbe defended the move.
She said: “Moreland School’s fabric and structure is falling down and the environment is uninspiring.
“The head and the teachers at Moreland do an excellent job. But we’re left with falling rolls and parents and children not provided with the quality provision that they ought to expect. These are children from the poorest communities who have been let down very badly.”
Cllr Webbe dismissed fears that Muslim, Jewish and other non-Christian pupils would not be made welcome at St Luke’s, a Church of England school. She added: “St Luke’s has a Christian background but it embraces all faiths.”
Labour councillor Richard Watts, executive member for schools, said the idea for the new school emerged after parents from Moreland complained about the unsuitability of their building.
He said: “I’ve discussed the proposals with colleagues and officers and it appears to be the best way forward. However nothing is cast in stone and there are a lot of consultations to complete.
“The school was built in the 1960s and is well past its use-by date.”
Most Moreland staff would also be transferred to St Luke’s, but the headteacher post would go to the head of St Luke's.
Head of Moreland School Gordon Canning said: “The staff and governors at Moreland will be talking to the council over the next few months and finding out more about their proposals.”