Meg Hillier MP tells Parliament she is ‘very disturbed’ by Hackney New School’s loss of four headteachers in two years
PUBLISHED: 13:18 04 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:26 30 October 2019
Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier told Parliament this afternoon she was “very disturbed” by Hackney New School losing its fourth headteacher in a little over two years.
And she secured a commitment from the leader of the house that schools minister Nick Gibb would write to her about the free school in Kingsland Road, Haggerston - which has now, in recent days, actually lost yet another headteacher and appointed its sixth.
Popular head Mary Li left unexpectedly on June 20, reportedly leaving teachers crying openly in shock.
She had been the fourth head since Easter 2017. The school shut for three inset days following the announcement for "staff training".
Her replacement, named only as Mrs McCarthy in a message to parents, has also now gone, replaced by Charlotte Whelan.
Ms Hillier told the leader of the house Mel Stride today: "I'm proud to represent a borough that has some of the best schools in the country, so I'm very disturbed that in the last few days the Hackney New School has lost its fourth headteacher in two years.
"The reason I raise it here is because it's a free school, Mr Speaker, which means it is direcetly accountable to the government, so will the leader arrange for a debate in government time about how to ensure accountability of free schools in England, and will he ensure that the education minister writes to me about this school?"
Mr Stride, who is MP for Central Devon, said: "I have no doubt that [Ms Hillier's] comments have been heard and I will certainly follow up to ensure that an appropriate letter is written to the Rt Hon Lady on that particular issue. I don't know the specifics, obviously, of the school in her constituency, albeit that it may be a free school - obviously I can't be expected to know as well as the Rt Hon Lady.
"But I don't think we should conclude that because there are some problems with some free schools, as would be expected given the large volume of them that there are, that that means that free schools per se are not a good or a successful idea.
"The reality is that compared to 2010 there are now 1.9million more children in good and outstanding schools as a result of this government's education reforms."
Ms Hillier, who is also chair of the Public Accounts Committee, has in the past raised concerns about Hackney New Primary School, being built by Hackney New School over the road on the former site of Kingsland Fire Station.
There will be no affordable housing built as part of the development, which includes 68 private flats as well as the school itself.
"Hackney will be hollowed out soon if we don't start dealing with the rise in expensive private development," she told the Gazette in 2016, calling on the Department for Education to reinvest some of its own profits from the scheme back into keyworker housing in Hackney.