Barclay Primary School’s Struggle with Safety: Potential Shift to Online Learning

Parents in an east London school have been told that the school may have to switch its students to online learning because of threats to the school and abuse of staff since it banned political symbols, such as the Palestinian flag.

Barclay Primary School in Leyton, Waltham Forest, said it had asked the Metropolitan Police for help in looking into claims of abuse against staff. The school had also hired private security, put in CCTV cameras, and limited public access to the building.

The Lion Academy Trust, which runs the school with more than 1,200 students, said it had received “a serious threat” over the Christmas break, along with racial slurs and threats of arson. This meant that the school had to take extra safety steps, such as having police present.

As of Friday, the trust told parents in a letter that if things don’t go back to normal or if they think that these steps won’t protect the safety of the children or staff, the school would be closed with little notice and students would have to go back to learning online for as long as they thought was necessary.

“Please know that if the staff keeps being threatened, we will have no choice but to close the school. This is our last resort.

“Also, if it turns out that any parent or person was involved in starting this campaign against the school, whether it was online or in person, we will take steps to keep them from going to the site.”

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The school told parents at the end of last school year that kids shouldn’t bring “political allegiance” clothes or badges to school, even on days when they didn’t have to wear uniforms. One parent said her child was told to take off a fake Morocco football shirt, and other parents said they got letters from the school telling them they could be sent to the government’s Prevent program to deal with terrorism.

There was a protest outside of school on the last day of term before Christmas, so the school decided to close early.

A student who wouldn’t take off a small Palestinian flag patch from his jacket caused the protest. He hasn’t been to school since late November. The student’s mother is said to be from Gaza, and his father told the BBC that some of her family had died in the fighting with Israel.

Primary School
Primary School

People whose children went to that school got a letter from the executive headteacher saying that problems with students were private and that it was “disheartening to see how readily unproven allegations” were being taken as fact.

The letter said, “No child has been suspended or kicked out of school because of problems with the uniform policy, and to say otherwise is false.”

According to the letter, there had been a lot of bad behavior and harassment toward staff, which is now the cause of several criminal investigations.

An online film from before the protest showed a Palestinian flag being hung outside of the school. People on the far right were interested in that film and others of the protest, which led to more threats against the school.

Parents were asked by the Lion Trust to be nice to staff and to “appropriately” fight back against false information that was being spread in person or online.

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