Classes are set to resume at the Russian language school after a U-turn after more than 2,200 people signed a protest petition

Classes are set to resume at a Russian-language school based in Warrington, which was forced to close following an anonymous complaint after more than 2,200 people signed a petition calling on Warrington Borough Council to turn back.

Warrington ‘Solnyshko’ Russian Language School says it has been refused entry to St Wilfrid’s Primary School in Grappenhall for their regular Saturday morning lessons following an anonymous (and very strongly worded), although Warrington Borough Council claims that St Wilfrid’s had received a number of aggressive letters regarding the school after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Cllr Sarah Hall, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Warrington Borough Council: “Late Friday, I understand that a decision has been made by St Wilfrid’s Primary School, in conjunction with officers from Warrington Borough Council, to ask the Russian school, which operates from St Wilfrid’s C of E Primary School on Saturday mornings, not to prosecute the following day.The decision was taken after the school received aggressive letters in which threats were implicit if classes were to continue.The tone of these letters caused the school great concern.

“Children of various ages attend the Russian Saturday school in Solnyshko. Keeping pupils and teachers safe on Saturday was the first priority of the primary school principal and council officers. Therefore, due to security concerns, the decision was made not to hold classes for a week while the threats were properly investigated and measures were taken to ensure the safety of the children and Staff.

“The risks have now been properly assessed and measures have been taken to ensure the safety of pupils and teachers and therefore classes will resume this week.

“It is essential that people here in Warrington, and indeed across the country, never make the mistake of confusing speaking and learning Russian, or enjoying Russian language and culture, with the deplorable and horrific actions of Vladimir Putin. . We must remember that Russian is widely spoken in a number of countries adjacent to Russia, including Ukraine. I categorically condemn those who have written hateful, anonymous and aggressive letters to St Wilfrid’s regarding the Russian school‘s long-standing arrangement for the rental of its premises.

“We must ensure that Warrington offers a welcoming, tolerant and compassionate approach not only to Ukrainians and Russians who call this town their home, but also to those who may come here as refugees. All Ukrainians will be in agony from the atrocities committed in their homeland. But we should also extend the same spirit of tolerance and solidarity to the many ordinary Russians who courageously repudiate Putin’s actions and entirely reject his war as not being fought in their name.

Warrington South MP Andy Carter said: ‘This morning I spoke with Warrington Borough Council, the Principal of St Wilfrid and Warrington Russian Language School about the decision to suspend Russian lessons which take place on Saturday mornings at Grappenhall Primary School. I am very happy that an agreement has been reached for language lessons for children to resume.

“Many young people who are educated here have families in Ukraine as well as in Russia and neighboring countries where Russian is the most common language. I don’t think it’s fair to want to see children in Warrington from ordinary families living in Russia unable to communicate with their grandparents in their own language because of Putin’s senseless actions.

Warrington Russian Language School “Solnyshko” opened in 2013.

The school released a statement saying, “We, as staff and teachers of Solnyshko Russian Language School, want to express our deep sadness and condemnation of what is currently happening between Russia and Ukraine. We call on world leaders to end the fighting and ensure that Ukrainians can begin to heal from the pain that has been inflicted on them.

“We support and will always support the children, families and people of Ukraine, as well as all those who have been victims of this tragedy.

“Our school is a small, independent, not-for-profit organization with no operational support from the Russian or UK governments.

“The goal of our school is to build bridges between peoples and cultures in peace and friendship.

“We bring together everyone who is interested in the Russian language and Russian-speaking cultures. We have students from England, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Belarus and Bulgaria. Our school is truly international.

“Ukraine and Russia have a long history together, many families in the school have ties and family or friends in both countries and we are all worried about them and the consequences this conflict will bring, we are all in mourning because it affects all of us.

“Our school is a safe space from the current conflict where we can all come together again and share our fears, we protect our children from the horror that is happening and show them by example how to respect and support each other, unite friendship.

“We must also protect our staff and students so that any discrimination against our students or teachers is immediately addressed.
“Our hearts go out to everyone around the world who is affected in any way by this crisis.”

More than 2,200 people had signed the petition in support of the school over the weekend.

https://www.change.org/p/stop-closing-schools-for-teaching-russian-to-children

Sylvester L. Goldfarb