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Parents want rid of Kings Farm Primary School headteacher in Gravesend

Parents are at war at a primary school in a row over a number of changes brought in by the new head teacher.

Kings Farm Primary School was the scene of protests and placards on Thursday afternoon as two groups of parents clashed.

Standing across the road from the school gates, in Cedar Avenue, Gravesend, a group of around 20 parents got together, waving signs calling for head teacher Jane Porter to leave.

Parents protested against the decisions made by head teacher Jane Porter at Kings Farm Primary School

They claim PE lessons and sports day were cancelled, special needs children have lost their support, the sizes of classes have increased after 22 teachers quit, and school trips were cancelled along with the summer fete.

All of which, the group says, is down to one person - the head.

The parents also made signs for their children to hold and stated that for them, enough was enough.

Kings Farm Primary School featured on a Dispatches investigation into exam cheating

Marie Heywoood has a daughter, Tiffanie, five, and a son Byron, 10, who are in reception and year five at Kings Farm.

Both children have autism and Ms Heywood said the changes had not been good for their day-to-day structure.

She said: “They’ve gone from a class of 17 to 35. My son has been chewing his jumper and his behaviour is clingy, which it wasn’t before.

“They took PE away and with my son he needs routine. This is all because of the head teacher, before it wasn’t like this.”

“From what we’ve seen of her she’s been brilliant and helpful, and the kids love her.”

The school was last rated as “satisfactory” by Ofsted in March 2012 and is currently consulting on whether to become an academy as part of the Gravesend Grammar School Academy Trust.

Rachel Growns, 28, whose son Ryan, nine, is a year four pupil, is also upset at the way special needs support is being dealt with at Kings Farm.

She said: “My son was awarded one-to-one funding last year. He had a worker who left when the new head teacher came in and [now] he only gets support on a Friday or Monday and is struggling with work.

“He puts his clothes on the wrong way and the children laugh at him. He’s not supported the way he should be.”

However, not all parents are angry with the direction the school is taking under Ms Porter’s leadership.

Further down Cedar Avenue was a smaller group of parents who are pleased with the changes being made at Kings Farm and came out to show their support for the head.

Tony Hughes, 42, was one of them. He said of the protestors: “They are all scared of change.

“I don’t quite know what they’re hoping for. Do they want the head out because she’s making changes? If it’s not her it will be someone else.

“From what we’ve seen of her she’s been brilliant and helpful, and the kids love her.”

Ms Porter is no stranger to controversy having banned pupils at Whitehill Primary School, Gravesend – where she is also head – from talking about Christmas in November last year.

The teacher said that children would lose their ‘golden time’ if the festivities were mentioned before December.

Leah Ogungbade, 26, has a niece and nephew at Kings Farm and a daughter starting in September. She said the head had the school on the right track.

She said: “My most important thing is that my child goes to school and learns, not goes and has fun.

“If they have too much fun they don’t learn anything. They go to school to get educated, then they have fun when they come home, with us.

“She’s [Ms Porter] doing a brilliant job. We had no outside play ground stuff when she started here.”

The Messenger tried to contact Ms Porter but was referred to Kent County Council press office.

A spokesman for KCC said: “Jane Porter was brought in at the request of the local authority to raise academic standards and the quality of teaching – as she had done at Whitehill Primary in Gravesend.

“KCC takes complaints seriously and the governing body at Kings Farm Junior School will make sure they are properly investigated and that any response is appropriate.”

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