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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.

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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.”

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