Ilford school to close in July adding further pressure on places in Redbridge
PUBLISHED: 10:58 18 March 2016 | UPDATED: 12:18 18 March 2016
Cranbrook School will shut at the end of the current academic year, despite efforts by parents and local MPs to save it.
Cognita, the company which runs the independent school in Mansfield Road, Ilford, sent a letter to parents yesterday informing them of the decision after a consultation period.
Cognita group chief executive officer Chris Jansen said they had considered “all possible alternatives to closure”, including “a number of specific proposals”, but the “high quality of education at Cranbrook” could not be guaranteed.
Mr Jansen explained they had reached the closure decision due to a “dramatic decline in pupil numbers”.
He added: “We are deeply saddened to have reached this point and understand that the uncertainty of the last few weeks has been difficult.”
It is believed one of the proposals was a bid by parents to take over the school, and there was also an application to turn Cranbrook into Redbridge’s first free school with help from Ilford South MP Mike Gapes.
Parent Sheila Habib, secretary of the Save Cranbrook committee, said she was “losing sleep” over the news.
“I’m so sad,” she told the Recorder, “on the committee we have put a lot of time an effort to save this school.”
Mrs Habib, 31, of Albemarle Gardens, Gants Hill, said Cognita had “absolutely not” looked at every alternative to closure.
She continued: “Even getting a response from them has taken a long time, Cognita have just strung us along.
“I want to thank the staff, they are fantastic, I am forever grateful to them.”
Gerald Reading, headteacher of Cranbrook between 1976 and 2001, said the “regrettable situation should never have happened”.
A Cognita spokeswoman said: “We have worked hard with parents to find alternative schools for pupils and new schools have been found for 86 children.
“We will continue to support the remaining 68 pupils in finding their right next educational step from September 2016.”
A report earlier this month showed Redbridge has the most over capacity schools in London.
Ilford North MP Wes Streeting had previously warned the Recorder of an impending education “crisis”.
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