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Council seeks to calm nerves at Brookside Junior School after super-head’s dismissal

Ex-head Adrian McNeillis (right) with former councillor Pat Murray (second left) and Brookside parents Ex-head Adrian McNeillis (right) with former councillor Pat Murray (second left) and Brookside parents

Thursday, June 5, 2014
1:02 PM

Havering Council has sought to calm parents’ fears that Brookside Junior School will be left with a lack of staff in September after the recent dismissal of super-head Adrian McNeillis.

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The struggling Harold Hill school, set to become an academy this summer, lost its headteacher less than 48 hours before it broke up for half-term after Mr McNeillis sent a email to parents and guardians warning that “turbulence” at the school was likely to continue.

His message added that the school could be left without as many as seven members of staff if it was slow to recruit.

On Monday, 11 days after Mr McNeillis’s dismissal, parents were sent a joint letter from Havering Council and academy sponsors the Drapers’ Company and Queen Mary, University of London.

Following “academisation”, Brookside Junior School will be known as Drapers’ Brookside Junior School.

In the letter, Mary Pattinson, head of learning and achievement at Havering Council, and Drapers’ Brookside Junior School chair designate Stephen Foakes wrote: “The council and the sponsors are working closely together to appoint good classroom teachers so that the school will be fully staffed by the beginning of the autumn term.”

The current head of neighbouring Brookside Infant School, Angela Winch, will become the executive head of both schools come September, the letter added.

Year 6 teacher Natalie Marris will be acting head in the interim.

Pupil Victoria Porter, an 11-year-old in Year 6, said she was “quite shocked” by Mr McNeillis’s unexpected departure, adding: “For months we have been getting lots of different teachers.

“It’s been havoc. Every time we get a new teacher, the class acts up.”

Mum Sarah Porter, 39, from Harold Hill, said she had spoken to the new temporary head and believed the school was doing “everything it can”.

But she added: “I’m not particularly happy with the local authority because I feel they should have let us know during the half-term.

“It should not have been through the media that we found out.

“I just feel that the local authority has let us down.”

Responding to the council’s note, parent Tina Wright said: “I don’t think the letters tell us much.

“Everything is still up in the air and parents are not happy.”

Last week, a council spokesman said the decision to dismiss Mr McNeillis had been taken entirely by the recruitment consultancy that employed him, but added it followed conversations with the local authority.

Read more:

Super-head removed from post after ‘school turbulence’ note to parents
1,000 put names to petition after girl knocked down and hospitalised outside Harold Hill school

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