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Statement from Cllr Sarah Hall, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Warrington Borough Council:

“Late on Friday I understand a decision was taken by St Wilfrid’s Primary School, in conjunction with Warrington Borough Council officers, to ask the Russian School, which operates out of St Wilfrid’s C of E Primary School on Saturday mornings, not to proceed for the following day. The decision was taken after the school received aggressive letters in which threats were implied if the classes were to continue. The tone of these letters caused the school significant concern.

"Children of various ages attend the Solnyshko Russian Saturday school. Ensuring the safety of both the pupils and teachers on Saturday was the first priority of both the primary school head teacher and council officers. Therefore, due to safeguarding concerns, the decision was taken not to run the classes for one week’s session while the threats were properly investigated and action taken to ensure the safety of the children and staff. 

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

"It is vital that people here in Warrington, and indeed across this country, never make the mistake of conflating the speaking and learning of Russian, or the appreciation of Russian language and culture, with the deplorable and horrific actions of Vladimir Putin. We should remind ourselves that Russian is widely spoken across a number of countries adjacent to Russia, including Ukraine. I condemn outright those who have written hateful anonymous and aggressive letters to St Wilfrid's with regard to the Russian school's longstanding arrangement for the hiring of its premises.

"We must ensure that Warrington provides a welcoming, tolerant and compassionate approach not only to the Ukrainian and Russian people who have made this town their home, but also to those who may come here as refugees. All Ukrainians will be in agony about the atrocities happening to their homeland. But we should also extend the same spirit of tolerance and solidarity to the many ordinary Russians who are bravely repudiating Putin's actions and reject entirely his war as not being carried out in their name.”