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New job for head of primary school threatened with closure

Parents have begun taking children out of St Alo's

01 June, 2019 — By Tom Foot

THE headteacher of a primary school threatened with closure has got a new job. Clare McFlynn, who has run St Aloysius in Somers Town for three years, is to become the new head at a Catholic school in St Albans.

Her appointment was announced amid warnings that St Alo’s, as it is known locally, could become the first Camden primary school in almost 30 years to be closed down and with a consultation survey still in progress.

Parents have been warned that the Diocese of Westminster, which runs the school in Aldenham Street, may shut the doors by Christmas.

A lack of applications has been blamed. Teachers have also been left in limbo, not knowing whether the proposed closure will go ahead or whether they will still have jobs beyond the end of the year. Several are understood to have sought employment elsewhere while the uncertainty continues.

Although it is nearly 25 miles between Somers Town and St Albans, Ms McFlynn will serve as both the head at St Alo’s and a school, also run by the diocese, in the Hertfordshire town. Some parents have already begun removing children and it has been said that there are only a handful of pupils in a Year 5 class at the school, which, dating back to the 1850s, is one of Camden’s oldest.

The school is due to make an official an­nouncement at the end of the summer term, but parents and teachers say they feel the diocese has made its decision already – and the latest developments cut the chance of saving it form closure. The Plot 10 play project in Somers Town collects pupils from schools including Richard Cobden, Our Lady and St Alo’s

. At a public meeting at the Somers Town Living Centre last week, its manager, Sally Warren, said: “The impact on these kids is horrendous. But also I’m not sleeping, my staff aren’t sleeping because we’re being impacted. Somers Town used to be a beautiful place to live and work – now I get up with a pit in my stomach.” Familes have been told they will be offered places at Our Lady’s in Camden Street, Camden Town – but the school has not had time to organise its expansion to take the pupils from St Alo’s.

One parent said: “I have disabilities and, just walking to Richard Cobden, I have been in so much pain it has destroyed me. How am I going to do that every single morning, and every single afternoon? There are 12-15 kids in the class, they have all been pulled out.”

Unison convenor Hugo Pierre said the way parents were told to “get your kids out” at a meeting about the consultation was “really disgraceful”. Austerity, low birth rate figures and the fallout from the benefit cap and welfare reforms have been blamed for the sudden closure.

The meeting heard a full equalities impact assessment had not been carried out by the council. A final decision is expected on July 19.

A spokeswoman from the Diocese of Westminster said: “Clare McFlynn continues in her executive role at St Aloysius. She’ll just be combining executive headship of both schools. We have a number of executive heads who are responsible for multiple schools.”

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