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Tuesday, 19 April 2016 06:44

Headteacher of Hempstead Juniors Quits School

Written by
In a brief letter to parents, the Co-chairs of Hempstead Junior School report that "Mrs S Smith, Headteacher since September 2013 has now retired from Headship and has now left the school". This follows a torrid time for the school over the past few years, as Medway Council supported the Headteacher, whilst good governors who complained about her actions in the interests of the school and its children were snubbed after they sought help from Medway Council, and eventually despaired and resigned, followed by others.
 Hempstead Junior 3
At the same time the school suffered a worrying loss of experienced teachers, unhappy with the way the school was then being run. The troubles culminated with the headteacher being suspended from her post in February although Medway Council refused to confirm this, previous events being described in my article here. This turned out to be the most read news item on the website posted in the past year,  attracting an astonishing 10,669 hits in just two months. 

This retirement follows the recent departure of the equally controversial headteacher of Whitehill Primary in Gravesend, and it is reported that both schools have now returned to their previous positive and happy states.......

 The headteacher has been strongly supported by Medway Council throughout the period up until the suspension by governors, even after a cry for help for the school from a group of senior governors to the Council: "Despite our considerable efforts over the course of many months, we no longer believe we can work with the current head teacher to deliver sustainable progress for the school in general and, most importantly, for the children”. However, this was dismissed out of hand by the Cabinet Member, Mr O'Brien, who considered after their subsequent resignation: "The decision by some of the governors is entirely a matter for them”. This was a direct slap in the face for all responsible Medway governors which must have caused many to wonder why they were offering their services - answer, to the children certainly, but not to the unsupportive  Medway Council which to date has not uttered a word of concern about events in the school, even at one stage trying to suggest the resignation was in fact just a matter of short term illness.   

The wording of the letter announcing the "retirement from headship" suggests that the headteacher's departure was agreed,so that no disciplinary action would have followed the suspension. It is usual in such cases, that a settlement will have been agreed, fortunately to fall on Medway Council after its inept handling of the case but then to be shared across all remaining Medway council run schools, so not another burden on the long-suffering Hempstead Junior School. The large number of copies of the retirement letter sent to me pay tribute to the relief felt by so many people concerned. 

This is possibly the last word to be said on the subject, except all that remains is for Mr O'Brien to apologise to the good governors he happily saw the back of as they threatened to rock the boat, and to the school for his failure to look out for its best interests. 

Meanwhile, in Kent, the headteacher of Community College Whitstable is suing KCC in the High Court following claims that the Authority breached her terms of employment after it suspended her!  The problem is in such cases is that from the outside it is not always easy to see where the fault lies when relationships break down irretrievably between some of the various parties responsible for running a school, be it: headteacher, governors, teachers, parents, Local Authority, or Academy Trust. In different cases I have been asked my advice by members of each of the first four groups, happy to provide it if I am able, but learning afresh the complexities of school operation with its multiplicity of stake-holders many with their own agendas.  



Read 3571 times Last modified on Tuesday, 19 April 2016 21:05


  • Comment Link Thursday, 28 April 2016 22:32 posted by Sharon

    Why this took so long is disgraceful! Mike O'Brian you should ashamed of yourself. You have let so many staff, governors and pupils down.....appalling behaviour.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 19 April 2016 18:37 posted by Aston

    I think Mike O'brien should resign. PETER: I f he hasn't resigned after the many previous disgraces that have occurred under his political leadership, I can't see him going after this one even though he has chosen to personally identify himself with the headteacher.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 19 April 2016 18:21 posted by Ben

    What a relief!

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