Shock as Canterbury principal Simon Murphy leaves Chaucer School
Simon Murphy has
left the Chaucer School
by Jamie Bullen
A principal has left his job after six years in charge of
one of Canterbury’s biggest schools as it prepares to become Kent’s
The Chaucer School was left stunned this week following Simon
Murphy’s resignation less than two weeks after the three-month
consultation to become an academy ended.
Kent County Council said his departure was mutually agreed with
the school’s governing body, but union bosses are demanding to know
the full reasons behind the decision.
KCC spokesman Mike Sherburn said: “Simon Murphy, principal of
Chaucer School, returned to the school in the new year to continue
his diligent work to help realise the vision for the institution to
become an academy.
“However, with the agreement of the governing body, he has now
taken the decision to stand down in order to enable the next
exciting phase in the school’s development to be led by a new
“Simon would like to thank the staff, the students and the
parents for their unstinting support over the last six years and
wishes everyone associated with the school community every success
for the future.
“The governors and local authority would like to express their
appreciation for the contribution Simon has made to Chaucer School
on behalf of everyone and wish him every success as he pursues his
professional career in a new context.”
However, Kent’s NUT secretary John Walder said he wanted answers
surrounding the shock changes after being informed at a meeting
with Canterbury representatives on Tuesday night of Mr Murphy’s
Mr Walder met KCC’s corporate director Patrick Leeson yesterday
to establish fully why the decision was taken.
"I shall be extremely annoyed if I still don’t know what is going on." – NUT secretary John Walder
He said: “I had a meeting pencilled with Simon Murphy on Friday
afternoon with members of the school but his PA phoned me and said
he was not in school in the moment due to the weather and that a
meeting would be fixed up on another day.
“At a meeting on Tuesday night with the Canterbury NUT I was
informed that Simon Murphy was no longer head of the school. I know
no more than that.
“I am due at a meeting in Maidstone with Patrick Leeson in which
this item is on my agenda and I shall be extremely annoyed if I
still don’t know what is going on.”
GCSE results published yesterday show show 37% of pupils at the
school achieved five or more grades A* to C. The government’s
benchmark for schools is 40%.
Mr Murphy was highly critical of the decision to downgrade
English GCSE results, even threatening to take legal action on the
day the results were released.
The school has already moved to appoint Elizabeth King as acting
principal. She said the absolute priority was for the school to
become a “highly successful” academy.
A January newsletter, available on the school’s website, reads:
“You will have read in the accompanying letter from the chair of
governors that significant changes are in process at Chaucer.
“The school now has a clear direction and it will be my absolute
priority to make it ready to become a highly successful academy for
the students who are here now and for those who join us in the
No timetable has been set for the school to become an academy,
with one KCC official remarking the conversion is at an early stage
in the process.
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