The upheaval at Rosh Pinah primary school continued this week as parents revealed that teachers had written to Barnet Council saying that there was now “no trust” between staff and senior governors, writes Stephen Oryszczuk.
In a letter dated 30 May, staff wrote: “There now exists no trust between staff and the three senior governors. We do not believe that they are acting in the best interest of the children and parents or in the best interest of the staff.”
The three governors in question are chair Barbara Hotz, vice-chair Annette Koslover and finance chair Nick Kramer, all of whom have either pulled their children out of the school already, or plan to do so imminently.
Together, the three governors penned a defiant response to parents earlier this month. It covered a range of concerns and allegations, including that of a “cover-up” over mistakes made in relation the school’s admissions policy.
Despite the detailed rebuttal, a petition calling for the governors’ resignation this week notched up 226 signatures, representing 140 families – roughly a quarter of the school’s parents.
“We don’t understand how these volunteer governors have not seen the damage that their continued presence is causing to the school,” said parent Richard Linskell.
He added: “They have lost the support and trust of the staff as well as a large proportion of the parents.”
Barnet Councillor Reuben Thompstone, cabinet member for education, said he would only step in if there reasons for government intervention. “In the case of Rosh Pinah, there is no case for doing so,” he said.
The campaigners calling for the governors’ ousting, led by Jonathan Hugh and other members of the Rosh Pinah Action Group (RPAG), this week said the governors’ claim of “full support” from Barnet was in fact more limited.
“The governing body has said that they will remain so long as they continue to have the full support of Barnet Council,” read a statement. “However, they have misrepresented the extent of support, which Barnet has clarified is limited to specific and recent matters on which they have been consulted.”
Staff concerns were also forwarded to Scopus, the foundation body charged with appointing governors. Two parents, who preferred to remain anonymous, alleged family links between Scopus and the governing body, hinting that this helped to explain Scopus’ full support for the governors. Scopus chairman Peter Ohrenstein refused to comment.
Not all parents were siding with the action group, however, with some suggesting that the root of the problem lay with the senior staff.
One mother, who preferred not to be named, explained that from her point of view school leaders had “failed in their duty of care” after her daughter’s bullying only stopped after she was forced to ask the governors to intervene.
“I raised my concerns several times with the school’s leadership in emails and phone calls,” she said. “They just didn’t want to know. I eventually contacted the governors, who acted promptly and professionally. Within 24 hours changes were being made and action plans were being implemented.”
She added: “All this trouble and stirring – it’s all personal. What makes it worse is that so many parents are teachers and teaching assistants, so there is a conflict of interests. What’s happening there is a complete disgrace, but the problem is not with the governors but with the senior leadership team.”