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Five governors quit school in row with head teacher at Birch Grove school, Hempstead

By Lizzie Massey

Five school governors – including the chairman – collectively resigned from their posts, claiming they could “no longer work with the current head teacher”.

Chairman Lee Lundie, vice-chairman Juliette Eastwood, chairman of the finance committee Mike Dowsett, and parent governors Anna Berry and Richard Kerswill have all handed in their resignations from Hempstead Junior School.

Head teacher Sharon Smith declined to comment.

Headteacher Sharon Smith
Headteacher Sharon Smith

In a letter to the school, the governors said: “Despite our considerable efforts over the course of many months, we no longer believe we can work with the current head teacher to deliver sustainable progress for the school in general and, most importantly, for the children.

"Despite our considerable efforts over the course of many months, we no longer believe we can work with the current head teacher" - letter from govenrors

“We would also like to place on record our thanks to all classroom and support staff for their continued diligence and professional application.”

They said the decision was taken with the “utmost reluctance” after much soul-searching found it was the “only viable option left open” to them.

Their concerns were shared with Medway Council.

Medway head of children’s services Cllr Mike O’Brien said: “The decision by some of the governors is entirely a matter for them. Our primary concern is always for the education of the children, and that is in no way affected by their decision.

“We have a strong local authority governor presence on the governing body and there is confidence progress will be maintained.”

The mass exodus of the five governors was in May, but the school took the decision not to tell parents about their choice to step down.

Instead, in a newsletter Mrs Smith states the governing body is “restructuring” from September and is looking for parents to join.

She said the changes were coming in as part of new Department for Education legislation.

Hempstead Junior school, Birch Grove. Picture: Steve Crispe
Hempstead Junior school, Birch Grove. Picture: Steve Crispe

But an anonymous letter to the Medway Messenger says: “Parents are increasingly unhappy at various goings-on, including recent decisions taken by the head teacher to mix class groups from September.”

The resignations mean the board has almost halved in size. There are now only six full governors, including the head teacher and the local authority representative.

The Birch Grove school was rated “good” by Ofsted in October 2013 and praised for its leadership and management.

Achievement standards had risen and Mrs Smith said at the time of the assessment: “The success is through our really effective and supportive teamwork, with everybody on board – including the leadership team, governors, teaching and non-teaching staff.”


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