Hornchurch headteacher blasts Havering Council’s businesslike approach to education in shock resignation letter

PUBLISHED: 07:00 22 September 2017 | UPDATED: 07:29 22 September 2017

Headteacher of Sanders School in Hornchurch John McEachern, who stands down from his post today.

Headteacher of Sanders School in Hornchurch John McEachern, who stands down from his post today.


A headteacher has claimed Havering Council is more focused on its schools making money than caring for their children in an explosive resignation letter.

Pupils at Sanders School in Suttons Lane, Hornchurch, celebrating their GCSE exam success. Photo: Stacey Kyriacou Pupils at Sanders School in Suttons Lane, Hornchurch, celebrating their GCSE exam success. Photo: Stacey Kyriacou

Writing to parents, John McEachern, the headteacher of Sanders School in Suttons Lane, Hornchurch, announced he would be standing down today (Fri).

Mr McEachern acknowledged the “remarkable journey” the school had enjoyed during his six-year tenure, but claimed the council’s interference in school finances had made his position “untenable”.

“Personally and professionally, it is impossible for me to stay under these conditions,” he said.

“There is no doubt that the educational landscape is rapidly changing, with the expectation that schools are more about the demands of running a business rather than the needs of young people.”

Havering Council insists its takeover of a secondary school is purely about “improving standards”.

The council will be appointing an interim executive board (IEB) to run the school from next week – claiming that a failure of the current leadership to improve standards needs to be corrected urgently.

But Mr McEachern, claimed on Tuesday that the council were taking over with the intention of forcing through a move into a multi-academy trust as soon as possible.

Such a move would see the school combine with others in the area to ensure its long-term financial stability.

Explaining his decision to resign, the headteacher of six years wrote: “I appreciate this will come as a shock and a surprise – please be reassured it is not a decision I wanted to make or have arrived at easily.”

He assured parents he would look back on his time at Sanders “with immense pride”, adding: “I recall joining a school that was full of potential but lacking in leadership, drive and ambition; a school that had lost sight of its core purpose – serving local families.

“I believe we have collectively made significant improvements.”

However, during the school’s last Ofsted inspection in December 2016 and March this year, inspectors still had concerns about the quality of the school’s leadership, and the school was graded as requiring improvement.

A council spokesman refuted claims the IEB would force through a transition to a multi-academy trust.

He said: “This decision has not been taken lightly, but after a series of disappointing Ofsted inspections, and a lack of progress towards improving standards, we have a duty to take action.

“The role of the IEB is to challenge the leadership of the school to secure rapid improvement. This includes management of the budget, curriculum, staffing and pay, and the appointment of the headteacher.

“We are working closely with the Department for Education, and Regional Schools Commissioner in our statutory duty to ensure all schools in Havering receive the right support to deliver the best possible education for our students.”

Related articles


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Romford Recorder visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Romford Recorder staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Romford Recorder account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Romford News Stories

Yesterday, 17:00

Sea cadets were welcomed to celebrate the 80th birthday of the HMS Belfast with a special anniversary weekend.

Yesterday, 15:00

An English teacher who has dreamed of becoming a writer since she was a child, has released her first novel, centred around love, friendship and parenting.

Yesterday, 13:00

Great English landscape designer Humphry Repton died 200 years ago this week. Local historian Georgina Green looks at his life and connections to the area

Yesterday, 10:00

An 83-year-old Rainham man who lost his wife after she contracted cancer from washing his work overalls, has secured a six-figure payout thanks to his solicitor.

Yesterday, 09:27

A Barking grandmother is searching for the Good Samaritan who lent a helping hand after she fell and broke her wrist.

Yesterday, 07:30

Have you got a front page story, or a community issue that you think needs reporting?

Yesterday, 07:00

Fewer EU citizens are registering for national insurance numbers in Havering than before the Brexit vote, the latest figures reveal.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

An adventurer’s efforts to bring wild cat racing to Romford Greyhound Stadium was not a success, as Prof Ged Martin explains


Many drivers will be heading to the showrooms in March looking to pick up a car bearing the shiny new 18 registration plate.

Window and conservatory specialist Ken Rhodes talks about the possibilities for brightening up your home for the new year, and with their home improvement finance deals it’s possible for everyone to make some changes

Lisa and Jennie are cousins who grew up in the borough. Their grandmother, ‘Nanny Fish’ was a huge part of their lives, and while she had dementia and increasing needs, she really benefited from having care in her nephew’s loving home. This experience was the inspiration for Lisa and Jennie to set-up their own home care service.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Show Job Lists

News from your area


Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now