Head of failing school 'was not listened to'

First published in News Worcester News: Sarah Hickinbotham by

WORCESTERSHIRE County Council has back-tracked over claims a headteacher was sacked from his post at a failing Worcester school.

The council has now confirmed that John Roleston had in fact resigned from Newbridge Short Stay School in Stanley Road, Worcester, at the end of term after taking a new post at another school.

In a previous story, John Edwards, the council’s head of learning and achievement, told the Worcester News Mr Roleston was removed.

The council now accepts Mr Roleston resigned after its officers outlined to him the work needed to improve Newbridge.

As previously reported, Newbridge was put into special measures by Ofsted inspectors after the school – which caters for 79 pupils with behavioural issues who have been mostly excluded from other schools – was deemed to be failing.

Newbridge’s woes may have stemmed from having to cope with a high number of pupils expelled by Tudor Grange Academy when it took over from Elgar Technology College, but the county council denied that was the case.

At the time, Mr Edwards said it was too simplistic to blame Tudor Grange alone for Newbridge’s problems.

He said it was difficult finding quality leadership for short stay schools and more challenge was needed from the management committee and the local authority.

However, the school’s management committee has since released a statement hitting back at his claim that Mr Roleston was removed from the headship.

It said: “The headteacher secured another post and therefore resigned. He was not removed. “The management committee thanked the headteacher for his valuable work.

“Secondly, a management committee is not like a governing body, and does not have those powers.

“Short stay schools are a service run by the local authority and the management committee acts in a support and challenge role of both the headteacher and the council.

“We highlighted the lack of sufficient funding and staffing for well over the last year, given the number of pupils often with quite complex needs.

“We – like the headteacher – were not listened to.

“The headteacher was in a no-win situation as numbers of permanently excluded pupils from mainstream schools continued to rise without additional resources.

“The committee is working hard to ensure that Newbridge has the resources required to fulfil its function, ensuring a sound education for pupils.”

A county council spokeswoman said they recognised the committee’s comments, but stood by the statement that both the management committee and council both had a responsibility for the school’s performance.

“The committee are technically correct that the headteacher resigned, but following the poor Ofsted report and detailed discussions between the headteacher and officers from the local authority outlining the work needed to recover the short stay school, the headteacher decided it was not the job he wanted to undertake and so resigned.

“We regret the use of the phrase in the article describing the headteacher’s departure.”

Your Worcester News tried to contact Mr Edwards, but he is currently on leave.

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