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Parents demand to know why Hempstead Junior School head teacher Sharon Smith is not at school

By Nicola Jordan

Anxious parents are demanding to know why a head teacher has not been at her primary school for days with no date confirmed for her return.

Several have contacted staff at Hempstead Junior School, but have so far not been given a reason for Sharon Smith’s absence.

Others were assured they would be sent written clarification of what is going on at the school which has 360 pupils.

Sharon Smith, head teacher at Hempstead Junior School
Sharon Smith, head teacher at Hempstead Junior School

It follows an Ofsted monitoring inspection in January over concerns “about aspects of the effectiveness of leadership and management in the school, including governance”.

In a report to Mrs Smith following the visit, it stated: “During the autumn term, the work of the governing body ground to a halt as a result of serious, mutual difficulties in communication between governors and the head teacher".

In an otherwise positive report, it continued: ”Some staff expressed the view to inspectors that governors have not ensured that they know the school and its staff well enough.

"Since January, largely as a result of strong challenge from the local authority, governance procedures and lines of communication have started to be restored."

It is understood that Mrs Smith, who has been at the helm for about three years, was last seen at the school in Birch Grove on Thursday.

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

When we called the school on Friday she was not there and staff would not comment on whether she would be back this week.

The school has had a high turnover of staff and governors in recent years.

In July last year five governors quit and in a joint letter of resignation they said they could “no longer work with the head teacher, Sharon Smith.”

A Medway Council spokesman,said: “The head teacher has been away from the school for a few days, and the day to day running of the school continues as normal.

"If the period of time is longer, the chair of governors will consider if any temporary cover is required.”

Mrs Smith and the chairman of governors could not be contacted.

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