A Devonian MP said the situation in a school where three governors were suspended was "complex, sensitive and unfortunate".

Iris Watson, one of three governors of the Ilfracombe Infants School, who was suspended last week, sent a letter about her concerns to education secretary Damian Hinds, senior members of Ofsted and North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones.

This is followed by a call for the school to break its ties with the Goodleigh C of E Primary School, with which it is currently affiliated, after concerns about the time spent by the Executive Director in Ilfracombe.

Mr. Heaton-Jones said it was "inappropriate to continue commenting at this sensitive time," but made a statement on this issue.

North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones.
North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones.

He said, "I was alerted to the situation at the Ilfracombe Infant School and received a copy of the correspondence sent to the Ofsted Chief Inspector and Education Minister.

"This is a complex, compassionate and regrettable situation, so in these circumstances it would be wrong to rush to court or say exactly what personal representations I have received.

"My first priority is to make sure that the concerns of the parents are addressed, because the education of their children must be the most important factor here.

"I will continue to study this matter very intensively, but people will understand that it would be inappropriate to comment further at this sensitive time."

Some 150 people – including parents, teachers, councilors and members of the community – attended a detailed meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss how the Ilfracombe Infants School has partnered with Goodleigh C of E Primary School, with which it has been affiliated since 2014. aborts.

The meeting, held at St. Peter's Church and chaired by the mayor of Ilfracombe, Val Gates, was convened after three governors were suspended by the school board – one allegedly holding a coupon for a staff member Had provided.

Worried parents in town say headmaster Claire Grant, who runs both Ilfracombe and Goodleigh, is not in school regularly. One parent is confident that "most children do not know who they are."

It has also been suggested that some employees at the school are "deeply unhappy" and that 16 "brilliant" employees have left in the last year.

Despite the invitation, Ms. Grant did not attend the meeting, nor did she join the remaining governors or local education authorities.

At the meeting, however, a note was read out by Dawn Stabb, Devon County Council Education Leader.

"I am very sorry that I can not attend tonight, but I am afraid it was called at very short notice and I have a prior commitment.

"As some of you know, I was born in Ilfracombe and my children went to the schools of the city. I still live in North Devon, so I hope you believe that I am well aware of the local issues and the importance of the community.

"First, let me say a few words about associations. They are a very successful part of training in Devon and more than half of our schools have a formal partnership with at least one other school.

"The associations allow schools to have the best possible leadership and share teaching knowledge and costs.

"But it's a different model than many parents are used to. The Executive Director directs the Federation and sets general guidelines for the curriculum and staff.

"For the parents, however, the everyday life of the school often consists of an assistant or teaching and learning leader, and that can be a big leap.

"I am aware that governors and former Ilfracombe employees have raised a number of questions about the life of the Federation, and I can assure you that I have read all e-mails that I received very carefully.

"I am confident that the Federation leadership has worked hard to resolve these issues, and I know that there is still a lot to do and how the school communicates with parents is an important part of this work.

"The decision on the Federation's declaration is solely for the governors, but I think it remains the best option for both school communities to uphold the association.

Before the meeting on Tuesday, the school sent letters to the parents of the remaining governors, stating that they would not attend the meeting because it had been called by the three suspended governors.

The letter states: "The widespread use of social media containing inaccurate comments further jeopardizes suspended governors using social media as a platform, and we have deliberately not engaged in social media activities.

"We can not discuss the details of their actions, but the seriousness of them is reflected in the duration of their suspension, which is a maximum of six months."

The letter explained what the governors considered positive, which the director, Claire Grant, and her work since its takeover in 2014, found positive.

It states that Ms. Grant's commitment to Ilfracombe and the "benefits of shared resources" prompted him to outweigh concerns about working with a school that was clearly in trouble and needed significant support.

The letter went on: "The leadership has demonstrated a proven school improvement that is fully supported by the community.

"The role of the chief executive officer is strategic, and day-to-day management is delegated to the deputy headmasters in Ilfracombe, who are the public face of the school and the people the parents will be able to attend when they have concerns ,

"We have no desire to live in the past, and our commitment goes to the children who are now in our care and will be in the future."

A difficult week for the Ilfracombe Children's School

Earlier this week, we reported that former Headmistress Theresa Hodge had decided to suspend three governors, saying that she was "deeply saddened" by recent developments at the school.

The Governors' Chair, Nadine Sampson, said the trio had been suspended because they were "unwilling to go behind school or behave in a way that would be governing within a federation". ,


However, ex-head Theresa said that the governors in question had "worked tirelessly" in their roles and that their parents were "managing the school".

Theresa, who left school in 2014, said, "I am deeply shocked to hear that three governors of Ilfracombe have been suspended.

"I know that they worked tirelessly for the well-being of the children of Ilfracombe, the school and the community.

"It's well known that parents worry about running the school, especially when so many people leave.

"There is no parent representative on the board of governors and only one governor of Ilfracombe.

"Ilfracombe is by far the bigger school and Goodleigh is much smaller, so there is a fair-representation gap.

"Ilfracombe is a very special place and its children and families need to be better served, as their views of the local authority and governor services are respected."

One of the governors in question said she had been banned because she brought a good-in-school card and talked to her parents during a nativity play.

Iris Watson went to Facebook to explain this: "My personal allegation was that I brought a voucher card for the parents, which they could sign if they wished, for a longtime and popular teacher who has since left bad Health.

"I was suspended because I did not ask for permission and the Nativity Play was used as a means of getting to the parents.

"That such a weak example of misconduct was successful in securing my suspension is a constructive step to silence me because I had expressed serious concern about the current school operations.

"I will not comment on the allegations of Geoff and Andy. I'm sure they can speak for themselves.

"However, I will say that their allegations were similarly frail and that they only did their best for the school.

"Since the suspension is now public and the governors are listed on the school's website, I do not violate confidentiality by telling you who we are. Since the association is not supported, this is completely wrong.

"When we teamed up with Goodleigh, I fully supported the move and looked forward to a real collaboration. I was confident that it would be a happy and fruitful relationship for both schools. Unfortunately, it has not proved.

"Many associations work successfully and happily in all participating schools. The fair representation of both schools is the focus of success. "

The news was announced Thursday when the Devon County Council issued a statement confirming that three governors had been suspended by the association's board.

In a letter to each governor, governor Nadine Sampson said: "The board's decision was based on the suggestion that you acted in a manner inconsistent with the Federation's ethos, and that these measures were the governor brought by Governor Association, the Board and the role of the governor in disrepute.

"The Board has not taken this measure lightly, but said it would be in the best interests of the future of the Confederation and the ability of the Board and the leadership to advance both schools in a spirit of cooperation and mutual success."

In a letter addressed to the parents of the school today, Ms. Sampson said, "These three governors, who proposed the dissolution of the Federation, were unwilling to stand behind the school board or act in a manner that suits them the office of governor within a federation.

"The three governors had the opportunity to express their concerns with the Board, but after much discussion, the Board made the difficult decision to suspend these three governors for the next six months.

"This will allow the Board to focus on the key issue of supporting the raising of standards in our two schools, but with a special focus on the children's school we have set, Ofsted will be a 'good' school at our next inspection.

"We are determined that all our energy is focused on improving the school and working together as a team.


"We would like to take this opportunity to assure all parents and staff at the Children's School that we are working very hard to solve all the issues raised in our previous Ofsted report.

"The recent visits by community representatives have confirmed the very positive progress.

"We knew that some things would have to change at school, and we know that this has been difficult for some, but we will continue to ensure that our path to improvement does not fall by the wayside."

On Monday, Devon Live announced that there is currently a consultation on the dissolution of the Federation between the Ilfracombe Infants School and the Goodleigh C of E Primary School.

But in a letter to Mrs. Sampson, Dawn Stabb, head of Devon County Council Education, said: "I am sad to learn of this proposal to resign.

"It was a long-term strategy for the Devon County Council to encourage schools to work more closely with formal partnerships, and we have experience with some very successful associations.

"More than half of our schools work in a formal partnership, and we are confident that this will ensure more students have access to the best leaders and the widest resources to support their learning.

"I am aware that governors and former Ilfracombe employees have raised a number of issues related to federal life.


"However, I am confident that the Federation leadership has worked hard to resolve these issues, and while much remains to be done, I think it remains the best option for both school communities to sustain the Federation."

Although there were no publicly stated reasons for the governor's request to violate the parents being forwarded to Facebook to voice their concerns, no public reasons were mentioned.

Some believe that current editor-in-chief Claire Grant, who manages both Ilfracombe and Goodleigh, is not regularly at school and says she does not attend school events.

One parent even said they were confident, "most children do not know who they are."

The removal of Goodleigh Primary School, located 14 miles from Ilfracombe, has been accused by some people.

It was also suggested that 16 "brilliant" employees left school last year and that others are "deeply unhappy".

In 2008, Ofsted Inspectors classified the school as "excellent".

But in September 2017, following a head change in 2014, the company declined in all categories to two areas where "room for improvement" exists.

The inspectors said the school, with more than 400 students between the ages of three and seven, needed to be improved in all six inspection criteria:

  • Effectiveness of leadership and management
  • Quality of teaching, learning and assessment
  • Personal development, behavior and well-being
  • Results for students
  • Early provision
  • overall effectiveness

According to the report, the results since the last inspection in 2008 have decreased, too few students made good progress in the early years, and teaching did not sufficiently question the students.

It also states that the quality of teaching is "inconsistent", that the development of disadvantaged students with special educational needs is too slow and that "too many students are absent from class too often".

However, she acknowledged that improvements had been made and described the school environment as a safe, caring and inclusive community.

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