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Maidstone Grammar School head teacher Mark Tomkins defended amid racial slur controversy

A school has defended its head teacher after his use of the 'n-word' led to a complaint to police.

The minute-long recording of Mark Tomkins telling off a pupil for using the word, while using it himself, emerged on Instagram this week.

Mark Tomkins, head of MGS, said the aftermath of the incident has been "distressing"
Mark Tomkins, head of MGS, said the aftermath of the incident has been "distressing"

It has been viewed more than a thousand times, after reportedly being recorded on an Apple Watch last week, and lead to police investigating the incident.

The conversation happened after the anonymous youngster allegedly used the word to another student in a post on social media.

In the recording, which KentOnline is choosing not to publish, Mr Tomkins can be heard saying: "Within a few minutes I was told that some comment had been made about a student and the word ****** was used.

"First thing I thought was that someone had used that word against you, but I found out you were the one who used it."

Mr Tomkins is then heard asking "And should I treat someone differently if they use the word towards you? If someone posted that and a photograph of you?".

The student tries to argue his case, telling the head "calling me it is different," to which Mr Tomkins replies: "Well, yes it is, but one should ask the question why is it different?

"Just because of your colour doesn't mean that word isn't inappropriate."

Maidstone Grammar School said police were satisfied Mr Tomkins had not committed an offence and said "any suggestion Mr Tomkins is racist is completely untrue".

A spokesman for the school said: “This secret recording was made when the headmaster was disciplining a student for the use of an inappropriate and offensive word to a fellow student of the school.

“The headmaster quoted the word back at the boy and explained why it should not be used.

“The recording of what was intended as a private conversation was subsequently shared by the boy and posted more widely by other parties.

“The matter has been discussed with Kent Police who have confirmed that the headmaster has committed no offence.

"However, it is an offence to make recorded conversations public or share them online without the participant’s consent and we understand the police will be taking appropriate action in that regard.”

Chairman of governors Mark Rolfe said: “Any suggestion that Mr Tomkins is racist is completely untrue and without foundation.

"He has the governors’ full support and I am extremely disappointed to find that a group of students have tried to tarnish the school’s good reputation in this way.”

KentOnline now understands police are investigating how the conversation was covertly recorded and later leaked and whether any offences were committed.

A concerned parent told KentOnline students were warned they were damaging the school's reputation.

The conversation was recorded secretly at Maidstone Grammar School for Boys last week and shared online. Picture: Google
The conversation was recorded secretly at Maidstone Grammar School for Boys last week and shared online. Picture: Google

An email was sent to parents after KentOnline began making inquiries in which Mr Tomkins says: "As you can imagine, this has been extremely distressing for me personally and for the reputation of the school.

"Please be assured that I will continue to lead the school with fairness and kindness as I have always done."

Kent Police has been approached for comment.

Gurvinder Sandher, chief executive of the Kent Equality Cohesion Council, said: "From my perspective no one should in this day and age be using the n-word​ due to its problematic historical and modern-day negative connotations.

"Obviously I was not there and have not see the footage of the incident but I would hope that if this was to happen again, teachers should use the opportunity to explain fully why the use of that word/slur is completely unacceptable rather than using the word itself to make a point as it rightly causes offence."

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