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Council probe into the Renown school
10:00am Friday 31st August 2012 in Echo News
SOUTHEND Council has confirmed it is investigating another school in the borough.
The Renown, A pupil referral unit in Constable Way, Shoebury , which deals with pupils with behavioural problems, was said to be the subject of an “internal” investigation, but the council has refused to reveal any details of the inquiry.
The news follows the suspension of Andrea Woods, headteacher of the Friars Primary and Nursery School, also in Constable Way, following allegations of fraud.
It emerged this week she and two other members of staff were put on indefinite gardening leave with full pay.
Ros Ferdinand, headteacher at Porters Grange Primary School, in Lancaster Gardens, Southend, was suspended last month following allegations she falsified the school’s exam results and Elizabeth Baines, head of the Priory School, was suspended in January.
James Courtenay, Southend councillor responsible for education, said the authority was able to support the schools.
He said: “They have all been offered support. A suspension is a decision taken by governing bodies in the schools. It is not something for local authorities.
“The local authority is interested in ensuring the day-to-day operation of the school is as unaffected as possible by any decision made to issue a suspension.”
Sue Cook, Southend Council’s interim corporate director of children and learning, refused to release the name of the headteacher brought in to take charge of Friars until all parents have been informed. She also refused to name the identity of the other two suspended staff members at the school.
She said: “It is not our usual policy to name individuals who have been suspended pending an investigation. Suspension is a neutral act to enable investigations to be carried out.
“As soon as we are sure all the staff and parents have been informed about the cover arrangements, we will be able to release these publicly.
“We can confirm no employees have been suspended from the Renown. In line with procedures, an internal matter is currently being dealt with.”
She added: “The decision to suspend a headteacher or any other member of school staff is taken by each school’s governing body based on the matters of concern or allegations that have come to their attention. “We emphasise the fact suspension is without prejudice and is necessary at times to ensure a proper investigation. It is a sensitive and difficult decision to make, and is never taken lightly. Schools ensure they take proper legal advice in reaching any decision.”