School chairman denies crisis claim

The chairman of the governors of Simon Marks Jewish Primary School in Stoke Newington, north London, has denied claims of a crisis and of the impending dismissal of three staff. These allegations were made in an anonymous letter purportedly from a parent which was sent to the JC and others this week.

But Simon Marks chairman Peter Kessler insisted: “The school is not in crisis. It is undergoing a process of gradual change for the better.

“As regards the staffing issues, I can state quite categorically that nobody has been dismissed from Simon Marks. It is the right — in fact the responsibility — of the head to implement staff restructuring as she sees fit. Sometimes this means giving a teacher different responsibilities.”

In the anonymous circular, headed “Crisis at Simon Marks”, it was alleged that staff morale was at an “all-time low”. Particular concern was expressed at the absence of deputy head Norma Blair.

In a letter to parents at the beginning of June, Mr Kessler wrote that the school had been going through a “turbulent few days” which may have left families “confused, concerned and even worried”. However, “nobody has been sacked, and nobody has been escorted off the premises.”

He confirmed that Mrs Blair was absent “at the moment” but he hoped to write further with “good news” about her return.

Mr Kessler told parents that “unease” at the school had stemmed from restructuring the teaching arrangements for the year five class and a recent Ofsted report.

Oftsted gave Simon Marks an overall satisfactory rating compared with the higher grade of good four years ago.

The chairman said this week that Simon Marks was among Hackney’s top-performing schools, “but we could, and should, be better than we are.” Under new head Nicole Delamere, “we are committed to becoming not just a great school, but a beacon for others”.

A spokesman for The Learning Trust, which runs educational services in Hackney, described Simon Marks as “a high-performing school” with “tremendous potential to achieve further”.

The trust was supporting the school to “implement an improvement plan based on the recommendations of the Ofsted report and educational best practice”. Asked about the deputy head, the spokesman said that staff employment conditions were confidential.

    Last updated: 3:06pm, June 25 2009