Former teacher accuses council

PUBLISHED: 11:11 23 February 2006 | UPDATED: 09:40 06 May 2010

Peter Warren

Peter Warren

A FORMER teacher has accused Hertfordshire County Council of neglect as councillors approved the closure of a school. The recommendation to close Collenswood School and expand Barnwell was approved on Tuesday at a cabinet meeting. The school will close

A FORMER teacher has accused Hertfordshire County Council of neglect as councillors approved the closure of a school.

The recommendation to close Collenswood School and expand Barnwell was approved on Tuesday at a cabinet meeting.

The school will close in August and will merge with Barnwell in September.

The Comet spoke to Peter Warren, former Collenswood teacher and local secretary of NASUWT, who said the local education authority is guilty of neglect by not imposing a headteacher of "known quality and experience" when the previous headteacher left his post.

He said: "I would not want to accuse the LEA of purposely allowing the school to fall into a position of failure but, in effect, that is exactly what it did."

Mr Warren retired from the school, which he called his second home, in the summer after 36 years.

But when the school hit difficulties recently Mr Warren believes HCC should have acted differently.

He said: "It could, and should, have either appointed a head with proven, tried and tested ability, or seconded an existing head of similar calibre for a prolonged period.

"To have appointed Dr Jenny Francis was unfair to the children and staff of this school and to Dr Francis herself."

He went on to say HCC should have brought in experienced teachers.

"In reality what it did get was trainees and supplies and overseas teachers who needed time to gain British qualifications (some made excellent progress while others lasted but a short time before leaving the school)."

Mr Warren added: "I have every respect for Barnwell School. I have great respect for the staff, several of whom I count amongst my friends, and I have admired the determination of Richard Westergreen-Thorne in getting the school to its current position and its much improved standing."

A HCC spokesman said: "Collenswood School and staff have received our full support, particularly over the last three years when the school was placed in special measures by Ofsted.

"During that time we have invested £700,000 in educational and financial support to help staff to improve pupils' achievement.

"Unfortunately, despite the support of specialist teachers and advisers, we have not achieved the results we were hoping for.

"Competition for secondary school teachers is fierce and it can be particularly challenging to attract them to schools facing difficult circumstances. It is vitally important for Collenswood's pupils to receive the best possible educational opportunities, and we feel this would be best achieved by closing the school and using the buildings to run an expanded Barnwell School on the former Collenswood school site.

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