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Now another headteacher leaves Hackney New School – days after Mary Li

PUBLISHED: 18:48 03 July 2019 | UPDATED: 08:10 06 March 2020

Hackney New School in Kingsland Road

Hackney New School in Kingsland Road

Archant

Hackney New School has lost its fifth head teacher in two years – just a few days after its the fourth one walked out.

Charlotte WhelanCharlotte Whelan

The departure of the head, known only as Mrs McCarthy, came less than a week after Mary Li exited the school in Kingsland Road, Haggerston.

Ms Li left unexpectedly on June 20. Mrs McCarthy has now been replaced by Charlotte Whelan, the former head of Forest Gate Community School.

Ms Li herself only took over last year from Antony Facinello who in turn had replaced Hugo Hutchinson - a stand-in after the school's first head Lesley Falconer left with two weeks' notice ahead of the 2017 Easter holidays.

Teachers, parents and the National Education Union have already rounded on governors at the school, complaining they had failed to tell them Ms Li had left, or that the school would be effectively closed for three days last week without warning.

On hearing that her successor had also gone, one parent, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Gazette: "My child is very unsettled. They find it really difficult with all the changes in staff.

"It's really frustrating and I wish my child had more time in school and I could pull them out, but they've got their GCSEs in a year. It's actually really upsetting, and as a parent I feel that everything the school was supposed to be is just not that way."

She fears that the upheaval will damage her child's education and that the school is failing its pupils. 
"My child might possibly leave with very low grades," she said. "When we went to a meeting at the school last Wednesday everyone asked where the new headteacher was. She came in to school last Monday and by Wednesday she had gone. I don't know where she came from, as she hadn't been a teacher there, and I'm not sure how she was able to come into the post so quickly."

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Staff apparently only found out themselves that Mrs McCarthy had left on Monday, when 10 new teachers also started along with Mrs Whelan.

On Monday HNS sent parents a text message saying: "We are pleased to tell you that behaviour at HNS today has been better. Pupils have responded well to the changes to the behaviour policy. An experienced head teacher, Mrs Whelan, is now in post."

Ms Whelan, whose former school was ranked in the top 50 for GCSE results nationally three years in a row, said in a statement: "It is with great pride I take over as headteacher at HNS.

"All the ingredients are in place to make this an outstanding school; ambitious and aspirational pupils, committed teachers and engaged families.

"I hope to bring the skilled and experienced leadership required to unite and transform this into a school the community deserves."

HNS Trust added: "We are fortunate to have been able to recruit an extremely talented leader in Ms Whelan - someone who has a proven track record for bringing rapid and sustained improvement to schools."

Five members of staff at the school issued a joint statement to the Gazette last week complaining that Ms Li's leaving had a "huge impact on the students' wellbeing and confidence" and had left the new head to "learn processes on the job with no formal handover and the rest of the senior leadership team to pick up the pieces".

They added: "Lack of continuity at the highest level has added to the difficulties of behaviour management and this, as one of the root causes, has not been a concern of the governing body.

"As a free school the governing board and the school sit outside the normal checks and balances that exist within the borough for state schools."

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