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Wednesday, 18 September 2019 06:26

Disappearing Heads in North Kent (Part Two)

A year ago I wrote an article entitled ‘Disappearing Headteachers in North Kent’ about the headteachers of three schools: Copperfield Academy, Fairview Community Primary School and Tunbury Primary School. Each had seen their headteachers removed suddenly. It turned out to be one of the most read news item on the site over the past two years, with a multitude of comments from unhappy parents, that are well worth reading because of the issues they highlight (especially at Tunbury). For different reasons, each school or headteacher has come to my attention again recently. There may be other schools which have suffered the same fate more recently; please feel free to let me know.

Copperfield has now kept the same temporary Executive Headteacher (a title when used for a single school often indicating a heavyweight headteacher brought in to sort out problems short term, see Tunbury below) for a whole year. He is Simon Wood, previously in the senior role of Trust Regional Director of Education for East Anglia for the Trust and the eighth head in the past six years since it became an academy sponsored by REAch2 Academy Trust. During his leadership last year, the school has been placed in Special Measures, served with a Minded to Terminate notice threatening to remove the school from REAch2, undergone a massive staffing turnover, and been given a remarkably positive Monitoring Report by Ofsted. Meanwhile the CEO of REAch2 has been identified as the eighth highest paid academy leader in the country for 2017-18 with a salary of £238,000 annually. One of the short lived headteachers, Mrs Sowden-Mehta  went on to join the controversial Turner Schools as Principal of Martello Primary and Morehall Primary School jointly. It does look as if she has taken on a job too far as both schools are struggling, as explained in the links. After allocation of places for 2019 entry, Morehall had the highest proportion of infant school vacancies in the county on allocation in April, Martello ninth highest, out of 443.
 
This was a good school, and now is again, apart from four months in 2018 after Medway Council appointed Faye Rider as headteacher. The appointment proved a disaster and Ms Rider left mid term at the end of April, following complaints from teachers and parents after a period of absence, indicating a settlement had been agreed. I became involved because of an exceptional amount of concern raised with me by parents, backed up by teachers and governors. Ms Rider subsequently complained to me, initially threateningly and later pleadingly, to take her name out of my article as it was hindering her getting a new post. I acceded to this request around November on the grounds it was no longer news, but could not get her to acknowledge or express any regret about the fate of good teachers who appeared to have been forced out or of children whose education had been damaged during her tenure. She was subsequently appointed to a post as Interim Headteacher of Beechcroft St Pauls Primary in Weymouth for January this year, but left  in May to take up post as head of Edinburgh Primary in Walthamstow, returning to an Authority where she had previously been Head of School in an Ofsted Outstanding School. The news in a parents letter mentioning her departure from Beechcroft at half term in May was as brief as that when she left Fairview.

Without knowing the detail, it appears that Edinburgh Primary had a chequered history previously with several changes of headteacher, hence presumably the urgency of a mid-term appointment. The school website is poor and presents a chaotic set of newsletters so that I am unable to identify any from 2019. However, something very unusual happened shortly afterwards in that I was approached by several Edinburgh parents and staff who tracked down Ms Rider’s Fairview history on my website, even with name removed. There was a consistent story, pleading for my advice and support for this London school, citing concerns which parallel those I received at Fairview. I am told these have now settled down as she has changed her approach and is starting to consult. One indicator on the school website however, is a current advertisement for new teachers that begins: ‘Calling all teachers who are looking for a new and exciting role in September’!  Sounds very much like a school that lost too many staff for whatever reason.

Tunbury Primaryin a part of Chatham that comes under Kent County Council.
I believe this is the school that attracted most of the attention on my previous article as borne out by the numerous concerns expressed in comments at the bottom of my article together with direct cries for help from parents and individual staff. The headteacher, Miss Liz McIntosh, was in post for five years following a highly regarded predecessor. She was highly regarded by Kent County Council, being a Kent Leader in Education (and is still on the KLE Register, shown as current head of Tunbury) and was and is still an Ofsted Inspector (one wonders quite how schools  feel about being inspected by someone with her recent record).

It is clear she was strongly supported in post by KCC in spite of all the concerns being expressed by parents over the years, whose views counted less than protecting one of their own KLEs. My first enquiry, one of many about the way SEND children were treated, was received as far back as 2016! Sadly, such wilful blindness at the expense of children’s education and staff careers is not unique (see too many other articles). Eventually she and Miss Emma Nuttall, the Deputy Head also responsible for SEND who was creating similar concerns, appear to have gone on gardening leave for the whole of the Autumn Term (presumably on full pay) at least before leaving their posts around Christmas (usually signs of a healthy pay off).Clearly Miss Nuttall has not blotted her copybook either and was offered a temporary post as Deputy Head at Grange Park, a KCC Special School in Wrotham, where she is now ‘Primary Advisory Lead’.  

The school was run by an Executive Head, Alex Cornelius, for the whole of 2018-19. He was  also headteacher of Langton Green Primary in Tunbridge Wells, an arrangement that is reported to have worked well. The school now has a new headteacher, Ruth Austin, previously headteacher of  the Ofsted Outstanding Ryarsh Primary, less than six miles from Tunbury and so not only may she well be known by the school, she will be well aware of the history. The chairman and vice chairman of governors have also gone, as has one of the Assistant Heads, the new Chair being a Local Authority representative. 

Last modified on Wednesday, 18 September 2019 22:38

4 comments

  • Comment Link Saturday, 21 September 2019 09:19 posted by Hopeful

    MrsCarpenter promised many things to parents that didn’t happen. I have been told already this year that things were going to be put in place and she didn’t follow through on these promises. Maybe she lost interest once she decided to leave.She was very good at promoting herself to parents and, understandably after the totally negligent Emma Nuttall, parents welcomed whatever she said with grateful open arms.
    The new SENCO Mrs Byrne has started in September and my impression after meeting with her is that she is a genuine lady who is passionate about what is best for all children. She is knowledgeable and experienced in SEND, whereas Mrs Carpenter enjoyed telling anyone that she spoke to that she didn’t want to do the job. I am sure that many people appreciated what she did do as it was far more than Nuttall had done. On more than one occasion Mrs Carpenter told me that she didn’t want to be at Tunbury.
    A fresh start for Tunbury with an an approachable headteacher in Mrs Austin and a dynamic, experienced SENCO in Mrs Byrne.
    Tunbury has not lost out at all with the departure of Mrs Carpenter as she has been replaced by someone that is passionate about SEN.
    Hopefully Mrs Carpenter will have found her niche in her new job.

  • Comment Link Friday, 20 September 2019 18:02 posted by Weekly Bull more like

    Well I know for a fact that Mrs Carpenter got a promotion at the end of last term because she sent out a letter saying she was going to works for the Leigh Academy Trust.

    When nobody wanted to touch the SEN issue at Tunbury with a ten foot barge pole Mrs Carpenter jumped in and helped numerous children and parents get the help, advice and support that had been sadly lacking for years.

    I for one am extremely grateful for all she has done for our family and wish her every success in her new position. She is what teaching is all about - She cares!!

    Tunbury lost out when Mrs Carpenter left.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 19 September 2019 19:30 posted by Devastated staff member

    Spot on with Tunbury.

    Suspended, and KCC paid them off to go quietly. Emma Nuttall has friends in the school she is now in, lied about why she was off. She was neglecting children with SEND, and destroyed the confidence of scores of children. Interesting she works with ASD students now as she insisted so many ASD kids just had parents making excuses. Denied their diagnoses!!!

    Liz McIntosh covered it all up, lied repeatedly and bullied staff and students.

    Both have left staff, children and their families still picking up the pieces. Lives have been damaged, teachers and teaching assistants have left the profession.

    KCC you should be ashamed of yourselves - choosing to protect 2 awful people at the expense of hundreds of staff and students. And knowing all you know about their abborent behaviour - you have allowed them to be free to move on and do the same again.PETER: Whilst cannot prove these allegations, they are certainly consistent with other comments on the previous article and other comments received

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 18 September 2019 22:42 posted by Edinburgh Parent

    You are spot on with your Edinburgh Primary comment. Ms Rider was a shock to the system as she knew it all without trying to understand. As you have heard elsewhere, she is now learning on the job and all may be well. We shall see. PETER: This could be a good outcome. I do hope so.

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