Fed-up parents call on MP to act over ‘leadership concerns and staff exodus’ at a Hitchin school

Concerned mums Becky Haylett, Sophie Root, Natasha Ennew and Devi Kroll outside Mary Exton School

Concerned mums Becky Haylett, Sophie Root, Natasha Ennew and Devi Kroll outside Mary Exton School - Credit: Archant

Fed-up parents and a member of staff at a Hitchin primary school have expressed serious concerns over a new head’s leadership and the high turnover of teachers.

Sources have told the Comet that both parents and staff at Mary Exton Primary School are ‘deeply concerned’ about the tension which they say has built up at the St Michael’s Road site since head Julia Brierton arrived in September last year.

One member of staff said: “We have an excellent team here – but the school is in a difficult place.

“Now even staff who have joined after Ms Brierton joined are leaving – that should speak for itself.

“There have been at least five in the last four school terms.”

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Mum of three Sophie Root – who has a long-running dispute with the school after accusing Ms Brierton of bullying her son – said: “All the teachers at Mary Exton are superb.

“But, I – and the vast majority of other parents – feel they are being let down. We are deeply concerned – something has to change.”

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Another mum, Becky Haylett, added: “We have been so worried about the constant churn of teachers – including those who deal with special needs – and we met Hitchin MP Peter Lilley on Friday.

“We raised our concerns about the number of staff who are leaving – or have left.

“He was very sympathetic, and said he would write again to Herts County Council detailing our worries.

“I don’t want to take my son out of the school but I am very concerned.”

Another parent, Natasha Ennew, said: “The whole issue over staff leaving has been really unsettling for the children.

“There is no continuity for the pupils because of all the departures, and I know the vast majority of parents are very worried about the situation. ”

Mr Lilley said yesterday: “I have listened to the concerns of my constituents, and have again written to Herts County Council on this matter, and I am awaiting their response.”

A Herts County Council spokesman said: “Since September 2014 four members of teaching staff and one teaching assistant have left Mary Exton Primary School to move to other roles.

“This is not an unusual turnover of staff for a school with 11 teachers, particularly following the retirement of a long-serving head teacher.”

Mrs Root, of Foster Drive, says the school has taken much too long to respond properly to her complaint about alleged bullying in July.

But the County Hall spokesman said: “The initial complaint was responded to by the chair of governors within 48 hours and the head teacher has an open invitation for the parents to meet with her to discuss any concerns.

“The allegation has been examined by both Ofsted and Herts for Learning and no evidence was found to support the allegations.

“An independent report by Herts for Learning found the school dealt with the incident properly and parents of the other children involved, including the victim, were satisfied with how the school resolved the incident.”

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