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School closures motivated by politics – ex-president of Somerset Primary PTA

Class act: Somerset Primary School is now set for closure (File photograph)

A former president of the Parent Teacher Association of Somerset Primary School — earmarked for closure as part of sweeping educational reforms — has accused the Government of political and racial bias.

Antony Siese spoke out after Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, reversed a decision to shut West End Primary School and keep Somerset Primary open as part of a scheme to reduce the number of primary schools to one in each parish.

Under a controversial points system, Somerset Primary was initially saved from the axe, while students of West End Primary were told that their school would close.

After a vigorous campaign by pressure group West End Warriors, the Government backtracked and devised a new points system that put West End Primary ahead of its parish rival.

In a letter to the Editor in today’s Royal Gazette, Mr Siese argues that that decision was made for political expediency rather than the welfare of pupils.

He commends supporters of West End Primary for saving their school, and acknowledges that it has a rich heritage and an excellent academic record — and was unsegregated from its inception.

But he argues that Somerset Primary has been one of the best primary schools on the island — and is being closed only because it had barred Black students when it was first established.

In his letter, Mr Siese says: “The whole school situation has been decided on political and racial lines.

“The Government is aware that its support has been flagging owing to poor decisions and that it has formed an elite where the few have now lined their pockets — never having it so good. The voters are not stupid and see they are not getting their share of the pie.

“With an election looming, the school decisions were not calculated to be for the benefit of the students.

“It is a fact that St George's Prep and Somerset Primary — formerly Sandys Grammar School — were two of the finest government primary schools on the island.

“Why do political hacks make decisions instead of leaving it to trained educational professionals? This whole scenario has been done to keep votes.”

Mr Siese also questions what will become of school buildings facing closure once they become abandoned.

Speaking to The Royal Gazette last night, he said: “The moment the Government gets its hands on anything, it makes a mess of it.”

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Published May 20, 2024 at 7:58 am (Updated May 20, 2024 at 8:35 am)

School closures motivated by politics – ex-president of Somerset Primary PTA

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