Here is the document text we have sent to all stakeholders regarding the consultation for a proposed school closure. Any comments can be sent to the following address:

Helen Jenner is an independent consultant working with Tower Hamlets on the Primary Review project. In this video she explains the reasons for the consulation to close Shapla Primary School.

Helen Jenner is an independent consultant working with Tower Hamlets on the Primary Review project. In this video she explains more about the admissions process for pupil places in other schools.

Helen Jenner is an independent consultant working with Tower Hamlets on the Primary Review project. In this video she explains more about the proposals and how you can contribute to the decisions made.

Dear parents and staff,


You will, I am sure, have read the recent letter from the Local Authority, which explained that they will be considering the closure of Shapla by July 2021 and will be carrying out a consultation about the closure.


As your governors, we want to support you and your families through this difficult period, and we too are disappointed that there are simply no longer enough children to fill our lovely school.


We recognise that this may be a worrying time for you, particularly with the additional concerns we all have at the moment about the coronavirus, but we have reached the point where it will soon be no longer possible to continue funding the quality of education we all expect from Shapla School. The governors have, therefore, taken the difficult decision to consult on the proposal to close the school. We think it is important to share this with staff and parents now, rather than wait until school returns to normal, so that there is time for a considered response, and everyone knows what is happening.


I am attaching a consultation letter which gives more details of the proposal and the consultation process and a response form that you can use to feedback to us your views about the proposal and what more we can do to support you through the process.


I should emphasise that the consultation relates to a proposed closure in July 2021. That means that SHAPLA WILL REMAIN OPEN IN THE NEXT SCHOOL YEAR AND THERE WILL BE NO NEED FOR YOUR CHILD TO MOVE SCHOOL IN SEPTEMBER.


As well as sending you information we will be putting it all on the school website.


This has been a very difficult period for the governors as we are very committed to supporting the school but our primary role is to secure the best possible future provision for our children. It is with great sadness that we recognise the Local Authority view that now is the right time to help our children and families to invest in their educational futures in other local schools, because Shapla has become too small to provide the great education we are used to.


We will do all we can to support staff, parents and children through this very challenging transition.


Finally, I want to thank all staff, parents and children for your patience, hard work and flexibility during the period when the school has been closed due to the coronavirus lockdown.


Best wishes


Mark Campbell

Chair of Governors

Informal Consultation on the proposal to close Shapla School

The Proposal

The London Borough of Tower Hamlets, in partnership with the governors of Shapla School, have taken the necessary, but sad, decision to propose the closing of Shapla School from September 2021, and to re-locate the children attending Shapla School to other near-by schools.

Why are we proposing this change?

Pupil numbers in Tower Hamlets schools are currently falling, particularly in the West of the borough where our school is situated.  This means that Shapla School, along with other schools, has not had sufficient numbers to fill our classes and, from Year 3 and younge, all have year groups below 20 children.

We are a small school, so as our pupil numbers fell, this affected our budget badly. Protecting quality education led to Shapla having a financial difficulties, with no capacity to repay financial support received from the Local Authority within an acceptable time frame. The Local Authority are not allowed to continue to fund schools that are not financially viable.

Our school already works closely with neighbouring schools, and the Local Authority has identified sufficient vacancies within 0.6 miles from Shapla , and within 0.7 of all current pupils’ homes, to accommodate all of the children currently attending Shapla. Across the West of Tower Hamlets there are also vacancies in many other schools.

To support Shapla through this difficult period other school Headteachers have agreed to be proactive in helping transition planning.

What would happen to our Headteacher?

John Musgrave Bolanos, our Headteacher, has made an important positive contribution to Shapla and has worked hard to ensure the quality of education has been strengthened. As with all the staff, he will be supported to consider his future options, and is recognised as a strong local Headteacher. He will continue to be Headteacher at Shapla School until September 2021, unless he is appointed elsewhere.

Why close Shapla School?

It is important to stress that the closure is not a judgement on the quality of education at Shapla School, our excellent staff or our lovely children. It is the sad fact that there are fewer children in Tower Hamlets and one form entry schools, that are not full, are facing financial challenge.

Unfortunately, Shapla School has faced significant financial challenge, requiring funding from the Local Authority which it cannot repay without damaging the quality of education for the children.

Neighbouring schools have capacity for all of the Shapla children to be accommodated within schools that are in a stronger financial position. Although provision at Shapla is currently good, there is a risk that the quality of education and the continued access for pupils and their families to extended services and facilities might begin to fall at Shapla, despite the best efforts of the Headteacher and staff and governors.

What will it mean for the children?

The children will be able to stay at Shapla until the end of the Summer Term 2021.

Families will be supported to move to neighbouring schools, during the Summer Term, if the decision to close is agreed.

The Local Authority recommends that the group of schools is fairly small, so as to reduce distances, but also to support children to transition with other children that they know.  However, families who wish to consider other schools, closer to their homes, will be supported to do so.

Parents will be able to apply to those schools, and places will be allocated using the usual Tower Hamlets admissions criteria in the Summer Term 2021.

A full programme to support children through this difficult period will be put in place, with the aim of helping them to recognise that moving school presents new opportunities as well as recognising how they have benefitted from their education at Shapla. This will include open days at nearby schools so that parents are able to visit once schools have returned after the Coronavirus epidemic.

Parents who wish are able to apply for their children to move to other schools before August 2021 through the in-year admissions process.

What will it mean for the staff?

Staff at Shapla School will be supported to find redeployment opportunities at other local schools. They may also have the opportunity to consider voluntary redundancy. Wherever possible Tower Hamlets tries to avoid compulsory redundancy. If the proposal does go ahead staff, and their unions, will be involved in a School Re-organisation staffing process consultation, from March 2021.

What happens to the school building?

At this stage of the proposal there are no specific plans for the building. These will be considered if the proposal progresses to statutory notice later this year. One idea would be to keep the tree area and football pitch to create a Shapla Forest School area, which could be run by St Pauls School and be available for all schools to use – contributing to re-greening the Borough. The main part of the school buildings could be leased for other educational uses.

Procedure to achieve the closure

It is proposed that there will be no further admissions to Shapla School from September 2021.

All responses to this consultation will be put together in a report to governors and the Local Authority. The Local Authority will then decide, at its November 2020 meeting, whether to move to statutory notice – a formal publication of a document explaining the closure and its impact. Stakeholders are then able to make representations to the Local Authority before a final decision is reached early in March 2021.

If the proposal goes ahead and the Local Authority Cabinet does decide to close the school  all the children at Shapla will transition to new schools by September 2021, when Shapla will formally close.


Children will continue to be able to go to Shapla School until July 2021. During the Summer Term 2021 the Local Authority Admissions Team will work with the school to allocate places in the nearest to home schools, using a parental preference system, and applying the existing Admission criteria.

If parents are interested in moving their children to a different school before July 2021, they are able to apply using the Tower Hamlets In-Year Admissions process.

Children should not move school, other than at the end of the school term.

Why are we consulting you?

We want to consult you to gather your views because you are an essential part of the school community. The governing body of the school and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets cannot simply decide to make changes to schools without first seeking the views of parents and others. There is a legal process which must be followed before changes can be made, and it is important that the governing body and the council hear your views before deciding whether to proceed.

This document will be provided for all parents and staff. It is also on the school website, along with some short videos.

We have organised the following opportunities for parents and carers to share views.

  1. You can use the response form (or any other written format) at the end of this document to record your views. It can be posted to the school, or emailed to

  1. There is a box in the playground at Shapla School where you can leave your comments, response forms and any questions.
  2. The Local Authority consultant, who is supporting the school with the consultation process, will be available for 1 to1 socially distanced questions/feedback on Monday 13th July from 10.15 – 2.30. You can contact Shapla School to book a 15 minute slot.
  1. Virtual meetings will be set up on July 13th:

Staff 4pm

Parents 9am and 6pm

To join them please contact the school and provide your email address so that you can be invited.

  1. If you would like someone to phone you so you can discuss your views please let your school office know and provide some times that would suit you and your phone number.
  2. The Parental Engagement Team will organize small group “Time to Talk” video sessions later in June, where there will be informal opportunities for parents to talk together.
  3. School staff will create age appropriate ways of consulting with our children on their views as part of their on-line teaching.

What happens next?

The informal consultation period starts on 8th June and ends on 17th July 2020 – the last page of this document can be used for you to feedback your view to governors.  It should be returned to the school office. Following the consultation process, the governors’ steering group body will review your feedback and use it to make a response to the council, on whether or not to recommend proceeding with the school merger proposal. A report summarizing the feedback on the consultation will be available for staff and parents during the first half of the Autumn Term 2020.

The full governing body of the school will consider your feedback in its representations following the publication of the formal statutory notice, if the Council decide to move to this stage at their Cabinet meeting in November 2020.

If the Council decides to proceed, a public notice (the statutory notice) will specify details of the final proposal and there will be a period of at least four weeks when representations can be made.  This will be the final opportunity to make any comments on the proposal.  It is then anticipated that a final decision on whether to close the school will be made by the council by March 3rd 2021.

How can I get more information on the proposal?

The LA will publish the feedback from the consultation on the council’s website during the Autumn Term.

 If permission is granted to publish a public notice, further details of this proposal will also be available in the Consultation sections of the Council’s website, and our school website.


This has been a sad decision for Shapla governors and the Local Authority. Shapla School was created when there was a sudden influx of children into the West of Tower Hamlets, now the population has changed again and in future, we cannot afford the wonderful education and community you have come to expect at Shapla School. There are not enough children to fill all the schools in the West of the Borough so some have to close, or amalgamate. After careful consideration we think now is the right time to close Shapla and help our children and families join new educational communities so that they can thrive.

We are aware that this is a stressful time for everyone because of the coronavirus challenge, but felt on balance, it was better for this proposal to be shared transparently with you now, rather than wait until schools are fully able to return, particularly as it is not clear when that might be.

Thank you for taking the time to consider our proposal, we look forward to hearing your views.

Mark Campbell

Shapla School Chair of Governors

The consultation had been planned to start in the first half of the Summer Term, it had been postponed because of coronavirus. On balance the LA and governors felt that not to begin consultation now was not fair on families – for 4 key reasons
– the parents of children due to start in reception in September may wish to find a different school for them to start their school career where they are going to stay.
– to leave telling parents and children until after the children return post coronavirus would mean introducing a new stress at an important recovery time
– the community are already aware of the challenges, for governors and the LA to agree a proposal in March and then not share that with the community until September (earliest likely return date for whole school), would not be transparent
– there is a real risk that staff, parents and the community hear from other sources and rumours rather than directly from the LA and governors, if the proposal is not open.

Although there cannot be public meetings a range of alternatives has been set up. All parents were sent the consultation document, it is also on the school website. Short videos are being recorded to go on the website. Parents are able to respond in writing or by email. They were offered the opportunity for a personal phone-call, or a 121 socially distanced meeting. They were able to join a virtual parents meeting. Christine MacInnes has spoken with staff and there was also be the opportunity for staff to join a virtual meeting. The Parental Engagement Team will support virtual “time to talk sessions”, and will set up coffee mornings when that is possible. The consultation process starts with the informal “pre-publication” stage. There will be an opportunity to include parents and community views in a consultation report which will be written for Cabinet in October 2020. Parents and governors will see and have a chance to comment on the consultation feedback report , and these FAQs, in the first half of the Autumn Term. If the LA publish a statutory notice there is a further 4 week opportunity for people to make representations.
Experience has shown that once consultation starts staff, parents and children start to consider their future. We know that being part of a declining school with children and staff leaving each term is not a positive experience.

Although there are spare places across nearby schools, no one school has space for all the children. All the schools have agreed to work closely with Shapla to help the transition.

Although St Paul’s is right next door and would be willing to help this would not solve the problem of the costs of running a building and having too few children in each class.
Unfortunately the finding for schools from central government is not enough to support small classes, and continuing to provide them leads to schools not being financially viable in the longer term.
Unfortunately the Local Authority is not allowed to support a school that might not be able to pay the money back within 3 years. We also know that there are too many spaces in our schools and increased costs and new housing have led to fewer children in the area.
The LA analysis shows that there are sufficient places, based on pupil’s home addresses for all children to be accommodated within 0.7 mile from their homes (0.6 mile from Shapla).
If the decision to close is taken in March 2021, parents will be asked to decide on 3 preferences for their child(ren) to move to. Those applications will be reviewed by the end of May 2021, and places allocated following the usual admissions process. If children do not receive an offer for one of their 3 preferences they will be individually supported to find alternatives. The Admissions video on the school website explains in more detail what will happen.
Schools can only take up to their allocated number so we cannot guarantee your first preference school. Children who are Looked After or have Special Educational Needs, must be given priority and we also want to keep sibling groups together. Pupil Services are happy to discuss individual queries.
Staff at Shapla School will support your children as usual, throughout the year. If the decision is taken to close Shapla they will help to arrange visits for the children to their new schools, and for teachers from those schools to visit Shapla. Just as the end of every Summer Term includes celebrations for Year 6 leavers, if the school closes in Summer 2021 there will be a full programme of events and activities to support the children and staff to manage the changes.
Parents should be re-assured that Shapla will remain open until Summer 2021, and no decision has yet been made about closure. If they would like to consider moving before then they should contact Pupil Services. Parents have a right to move children through in-year processes. Because the consultation started later than expected the admissions team showed some flexibility with the dates for the Autumn Term. Any approaches made in the Autumn Term should lead to transfer at January, not in the middle of the term.

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