a wide range of formal complaints by over twenty staff to KCC about the conduct of the Headteacher including complaints about bullying of staff, and threats of strike action unless matters are resolved unheard of in a grammar school and indicative of massive management failure.
There are also significant issues relating to school finances, and those authorised to work on them, including the headteacher’s husband who appears to have no formal position, but is bursar of Spires Academy. As far as I am aware there are no suggestions of personal gain from any current financial mismanagement.
Although the formal connection with Spires Academy continues, the long term situation needs to be resolved, now the two schools are no longer going ahead with a Multi-Academy Trust. The likelihood is, that given the low academic performance of Spires Academy, it will now be placed under the control of an existing Trust as had been previously proposed. The difficulties of Spires have not necessarily been its own fault, and it has struggled as a school for as long as I can remember, since long before becoming an Academy.
From the beginning there appears to have been no doubt that the headteacher and governing body kept parents in ignorance or misled them about the proposal to academise and formally take Spires Academy into the Academy Trust. The two leading figures here were the Chairman of Governors and the Headteacher. The Chairman has now gone, as have most of the responsible governors. So, will anyone be held to account?
When Governors cancelled the Consultation Meeting for parents on withdrawing the academisation application, they promised another meeting in early July. Whilst I agree that such a meeting would now serve no purpose, as the atmosphere would inevitably become poisonous and destructive, this needs to be acknowledged, even if only to inform parents that the new Governing Body will be issuing a statement after their first GB Meeting on 14th July.
In spite of many allegations to the contrary there is no evidence that the headteacher sought personal gain from the academy proposal, and I believe that exactly like many other school leaders she saw this was the best future for the two schools. If the Governing Body had been open and transparent about its proposal, there would still have been a reaction, but the school may well have weathered it. As it is, by their actions the school has generated enormous bad publicity, morale has been wrecked, there is almost a state of civil war between some parents and some staff on one side, and the headteacher and current Governing Body on the other, with the Local Authority swinging from support for the school to recognising the need for urgent and decisive action.
The Authority, which has final responsibility for the school, still has to take decisions regarding the staff complaints, the alleged financial irregularities, a multitude of parental complaints, the responsibility for what it has ruled are significant irregularities amounting to maladministration in the academisation procedures adopted by the governing body, and the actions of the headteacher.
The school, the Local Authority, the Regional Schools Commissioner and the Department for Education have all been inundated with a plethora of multiple requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act and directly, of complaints about the headteacher and governors, with publicised requests to others to copy their actions, presumably on the basis that multiple identical requests will be taken more seriously, and developing what is now called an “echo chamber” of opnion. I cannot speak for the other organisations, but it is a wonder that the school and the headteacher have managed to keep a semblance of normality under this torrent of correspondence to investigate and to respond to. Without knowing the details of how it has been managed in the interests of the girls, it is surely a matter for congratulation that they have kept the school operating, and planning for the new academic year, normally a very busy time of the calendar for senior leadership.
The headteacher has been under intensive personal and destructive pressure from social media, the like of which I have never seen or heard of before, relating to any headteacher in the country. The damage that this will have done to the school is immeasurable and wholly unreasonable, and one can only speculate on what it has done to the thousand girls being educated at the school who must surely be bewildered as they see the character assassination of their headteacher carried out in public. She has self-evidently made serious mistakes and could lose her job over this, but there are many other worse heads who have endured nothing like this, and one can only speculate what this has done to her personally. As a retired headteacher myself, whatever she has done, I have enormous sympathy for her situation which no one should have to endure.
Those conducting the campaign to oust her will no doubt argue they have had no alternative, given the nature of the allegations and the failure of those in authority to act in a timely and appropriate way. They may well be right, but if so the failure lies with those in authority who should have acted as soon as the faults became apparent.
What is happening is no way to resolve problems, with personal abuse taking the place of process, demeaning all associated with it.
A plea from a wise and brave student attending Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar:
“I just want to know where the humanity has gone? Why has this gotten so primal? When did everyone start wanting blood?”. This statement should head up every communication from either side, to remind them what civilised behaviour should be.
PLEASE NOTE: I DO NOT PUBLISH COMMENTS THAT CONTAIN PERSONAL ATTACKS ON INDIVIDUALS