Whistleblower teachers’ accusation Hackney head investigation “swept under carpet”

The opening of Thomas Fairchild primary school

The opening of Thomas Fairchild primary school - Credit: Archant

As a school which was gutted by fire celebrated a grand reopening last week, teachers have accused the council of sweeping their complaints about its former head under the carpet.

BAFTA-winning actor and director Adam Deacon, who grew up in Stoke Newington, joined Hackney Mayor Jules Pipe at the official opening of Thomas Fairchild Community School last Thursday – but one person was noticeably absent.

It has emerged that the primary school’s former head teacher Shona Ferguson has resigned.

In September when the £9.3m building in Napier Grove, Hoxton, triumphantly re-opened after a blaze wrecked the former building in 2009, the Gazette reported how Ms Ferguson was absent.

Parents were furious about being kept in the dark about her absence and were only told she was on “extended leave”.

The Gazette reported at the time that the school was investigating several complaints by members of staff against Ms Ferguson.

Now one of the teachers who left the school voluntarily after making an official complaint against Ms Ferguson, and who asked to remain anonymous, is furious to discover the investigation was dropped after her resignation.

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In an email seen by the Gazette, she was informed by Michael Jarett-Potts at the Learning Trust: “Shona has left the school – she did not return so the matter is now concluded.”

“He said: ‘I hope this offers some resolution.’ Well no, we don’t feel like that actually,” said the teacher.

“It looks as though the Learning Trust is trying to sweep this under the carpet.

“We were whistle-blowing, and we had to leave our jobs and career paths which was really damaging for us, so the fact they hadn’t bothered to tell us more adds insult to injury.”

She now wants to know whether Ms Ferguson was given a reference, or paid money by way of a settlement – but has not been given any answers by the Learning Trust.

Ms Ferguson was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

The council refused to respond on the matter, citing confidentiality.

Jenny Lewis will continue as an interim head teacher at the school until a new head is appointed.