Do Teaching Assistant redundancies mean Shapla Primary is the next school to be closed in Tower Hamlets?

A peaceful vigil is to be held outside Shapla Primary School, Wellclose Square, Whitechapel, London E1 8HY on Tuesday 16th July at 2.30pm to protest at the School’s decision to make eight Bangladeshi Teaching Assistants redundant.

Some parents and carers are of the belief that making the TAs redundancy is the first step towards closing Shapla School.

The vigil is open to all who are interested in what is happening at Shapla School and other schools in Tower Hamlets at risk of closure such as Raines Foundation Secondary school.

The Teaching Assistants work at Shapla has been a lifeline for all the TAs as they are from low income backgrounds. In addition to the loss of their wages there is also the issue of the harm to their feeling of self worth.

There was a rumour that Shapla was going to be closed tomorrow because of the vigil (seriously!) but we have checked with the Council and LBTH Children’s Services have confirmed that the school is open tomorrow as normal and not closing.

Six weeks warning of redundancy

The Teaching Assistants were told they were being made redundant by the headmaster John Musgrave Bolanos without any warning only six weeks before the summer holidays. Mr Bolanos’ explanation for the redundancies was that pupil numbers were dropping. He has been in post since September 2018.

Shapla was rated an outstanding school by Ofsted under the leadership of Jane Wallace, the former head, in 2006. The last inspection of Shapla by Ofsted in 2017 rated the school as good.

Shapla head John Musgrave Bolanos

The role at Shapla is the first headteachers post for the current headmaster John Musgrave Bolanos.

Both Mr Bolanos and Tower Hamlets Council have been approached for comment.

Update: Statement by Tower Hamlets Council

Media statement by a Tower Hamlets Council  spokesperson.

“Like many schools across Tower Hamlets, Shapla School  is experiencing severe budget pressures. Falling pupil numbers, alongside government reductions in school funding, are affecting school budgets. Shapla School is having to restructure as a result. We understand and regret the impact this change will have on staff, however the school needs to remain financially viable. Later this year the council will consult the public on proposed school organisation changes. At this stage no decision has been made on the future of Shapla School.”

Parents and Carers are upset that the headteacher had not spoken to them before he decided that the best way to cut costs was to dispense with the TA services. Over 90% of the pupils at Shapla are Bangladeshi. Shapla is the national flower of Bangladesh.

The TAs are members of the same community as the school and said that if they had been aware that school pupil numbers were dropping they could have helped to recruit more pupils.

Studies and research have shown that Bangladeshi women are marginalised in the workplace and the Shapla TAs experience would seem to be an example of this. The protest has been organised by parents, carers and local community members.

Vigil at Shapla 16th July

The vigil will take place outside Shapla School, Wellclose Square, Whitechapel, E1 8HY on Tuesday 16th July at 2.30pm.

For more details contact Jasmin Begum (Jasmin_121@hotmail.com) or Shirina Hussain (0784 526 385).

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