The prestigious North London school at the centre of a growing anti-Semitism scandal found itself at odds with its local MP this week, after continuing to keep quiet about its teacher who threatened a Jewish pupil with “your gas chamber”.
Despite the growing anger, North London Collegiate School headmistress Bernice McCabe refused to move from her previous position, in which she had earlier said that the school had dealt with the matter “appropriately”.
Several parents and grandparents of pupils, among them Holocaust survivors, expressed frustration but on Wednesday McCabe said: “The incident resulted in a prompt investigation and resulting action on our part. An apology was made. I am unable to go into much more detail… We must also tread a careful line in respecting our duties of confidentiality to staff and pupils.”
However, Bob Blackman MP echoed the thoughts of many, saying was “crucial” that disciplinary action be communicated.
“It is simply outrageous that a teacher in any school can make such a disgraceful remark under any circumstances,” said the MP for Harrow East. “It is crucial that, as a minimum, an apology is issued by the school, by the teacher involved and the disciplinary action taken as a result made clear to parents and to students. I have written to the Headmistress of the school.”
Repeatedly approached by this newspaper, the school declined to say what had been done about the matter or whether the teacher was still teaching Jewish pupils. The school also refused to issue an apology to the Jewish community or say what it taught in terms of Holocaust education.
“It is incredible that, as have made substantial progress on remembering the horrors of the Holocaust, such language can be used by a teacher to a student,” said Blackman. “We also have to consider that the teacher actually thought that such comments were acceptable to use which suggests that more work is required to combat anti-Semitism.”