Saving John Loughborough by Shaniel Clarke
September 2012. It was my first time in England. I was only 15 when I had to leave Jamaica. It was the only place I knew as home. I had never travelled, and it was painful leaving my family behind. What made matters even worse was that when I arrived in London there was a shortage of schools. I was so bored. I missed my friends from back home but I couldn’t make any new ones here because I had no school!
After three months of searching, John Loughborough School rescued me. It took forever to settle down but eventually it happened. I felt like I belonged. I met some friends and I started to miss home less and less.
When I joined John Loughborough I knew it would be temporary. The Council officer who found me the place told my family that the school would be closing soon. At that moment I didn’t mind; I just wanted to get out of the house, start school and meet new people. I wasn’t aware how close I would get to the teachers and staff there; so close I now consider some of them family.
Then, on 17 April 2013, reality hit. Haringey Council officially announced their final decision to close the school due to failing Ofsted twice. That obviously isn’t good for anyone: the school, the teachers or the students. Other reasons include the low number of students at the school and the low grades historically achieved.
It was shocking, even though we knew it was coming. I had always just hoped they would reconsider; I just thought that someone somewhere would save John Loughborough from closure.
Everyone was talking about GCSEs. Being in year 10 meant we were worried that changing school would mean completing our studies with a different exam board with a different curriculum. This would mean having to pack two years’ study into one year. All we had studied previously would mean nothing at all.
Most of my fellow students thought we would be lucky to finish school with only five GCSEs, as we would have to reduce our subjects to get everything done. There was panic among the students, but I was one of the few that still had hope. We had put our faith in God’s hands because, even though the Council had made their decision, our head teacher, Dr. Edwena McFarquhar, said that MP Michael Gove, Secretary of State will have the final say.
The Council states that it has the students’ best interests at heart but closing John Loughborough and disrupting our education is not what’s best for us.
Plus students’ progress has improved, and it is only a short time before we will see this in the exam results.
We are used to our little school family. Separating us or placing us in a different environment would be counter-productive. We have to learn a new syllabus, and in a new school that makes us nervous and uncomfortable. Is that what we need?
Community members and parents have lobbied the Council, expressing how we feel. They’ve written letters as well, but they still haven’t heard our plea. My personal plea is to give us more time and demonstrate patience.
It’s clear they made a decision to close my school a long time ago, before considering all the appeals that have been made over the past few months.
At John Loughborough, we believe that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. We recognise that we haven’t met Haringey Council and Ofsted standards but we have improved massively.
The final decision is not up to the Council anymore. It lies with Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education and with God. I hope that both make the right decision for the sake of all students at John Loughborough School.