Parents in Walsingham angry over the resignation of popular head teacher

Parents have vented their anger over the forthcoming departure of the popular head teacher of a village primary school near Fakenham and criticised the school governors for not allowing him to stay on.

It has been claimed that some parents are even considering going as far as taking their children out of Walsingham Community Primary School over the issue.

Steven Hales is due to finish as head of Walsingham Community Primary School and Burnham Market Primary School on August 31.

The schools are currently in a two-school partnership which the governors of Burnham Market Primary School have decided to opt out of so the school can be run independently.

Mr Hales, 59, disagreed with that decision and resigned as head of Burnham Market Primary School.

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He was unaware, however, as a consequence, he would have to leave Walsingham Community Primary School as he would not be allowed to work as a part-time non-teaching head teacher.

Mr Hales proposed to the Walsingham school governors that he stay on as a full-time teaching head. His proposal was turned down.

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Complicating matters further, a consultation is currently under way at Walsingham Community Primary School over a proposed move into a four-school federation with primary schools in Hindringham, Blakeney and Kelling.

This would see the four schools share one head teacher and a single governing body and could come into force in September 2013.

Mr Hales told the EDP: 'I do not regret my decision to resign from Burnham Market Primary School because I believe small schools should work in partnerships. I also support the proposed move to a four-school federation.

'I put forward a proposal that I stay on in the interim to help Walsingham Primary School through a challenging transition period.

'The governors chose not pursue that option. When I asked the chairman of the governors for a reason, she said she was not prepared to discuss it.

'I don't think any more can be done. I feel that a lot has been achieved in my time at the school and many parents were in favour of my proposal so it is disappointing that my time here will end this way.'

Mr Hales has been head teacher of Walsingham Community Primary School for approximately two years.

The school, which was once in special measures, achieved a 'good' rating in its latest Ofsted report, following an inspection in December 2010, while Mr Hales was headmaster.

The report highlighted how pupils' behaviour was outstanding and that the work at the school was 'overwhelmingly' supported by parents.

It stated: 'The head teacher, fully supported by staff, is meeting the governing body's high expectations well, quickly identifying the right priorities to drive improvement.'

The school also achieved a 'good' rating in its previous report before that, in 2008, when the head teacher was Angela Lee.

Parents ran a petition to keep Mr Hales hat the school, which was signed by more than 47 people, both parents and pupils.

One parent Susane Elley, 45, said: 'This man has come into our school and really got things moving forward. My girl is expected to get an A in her SATS and it is all down to his hard work.

'Mr Hales was never given a chance to stay on and a lot of people are very upset. Pupils have some out of school crying and some parents have talked about pulling their children out of the school.'

Another parent, Nicole Craig, 36, said: 'The bottom line is that we're going to have to lose a brilliant head teacher.

'The governors have been holding a consultation about moving into a four-school federation but, there has never been a chance for us to have a say over the future of Mr Hales when there was a chance for him to stay on.'

Chairman of governors Maureen Howard said: 'As far as I am concerned, Mr Hales has resigned at the end of this term. He decided to resign from Burnham Market Primary School and therefore from Walsingham Primary School as well. I am not prepared to comment further.'

Burnham Market Primary School has appointed a new head teacher, Rachel Stroulger, from Worcester, to start at the school on September 1.

The EDP understands that governors of Walsingham Community Primary School are looking to share a head teacher from another school before the four-school federation could come in.

Mr Hales said that he intends to work as an independent school consultant.

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