School governors of a Tower Hamlets primary school proposed this week to change the name from Osmani School to Vallance Primary.
Rushanara Ali said:
"I understand that the proposed name change of Osmani School has caused great concern with both parents and residents in Whitechapel. The name Osmani is derived from General Muhammed Osmani, who fought in the British Army in the Second World War. Born in Sylhet, General Muhammed Osmani is a heroic figure in the eyes of many British Bangladeshis.
While it is a real concern that the school’s nursery intake is in decline, I do not think that changing the name from ‘Osmani' to ‘Vallance’ will have the desired effect of boosting next year’s intake. I agree with Mayor John Biggs that the decline in the demand for primary school places in the west of our borough appears to be driven by changes in the local population and further exacerbated by an oversupply from unplanned and unnecessary ‘free schools’.
The names we assign our public institutions, such as schools, have a tremendous significance to our local communities. By naming a place of learning after a respected hero of the Bangladeshi community, we recognise the valued traditions and histories that our fellow citizens hold and celebrate. At a time of great hostility towards ethnic minorities and migrants, it is deeply disturbing that the school is considering changing the name of the school."