Leopold Primary School: Police called to ‘toxic’ protest at troubled school ahead of head’s retirement

PUBLISHED: 13:42 15 March 2018 | UPDATED: 17:39 15 March 2018

Leopald Primary School protest (Picture: Jonathan Goldberg)

Leopald Primary School protest (Picture: Jonathan Goldberg)

Jonathan Goldberg

Police were called to a protest at a troubled primary school in Harlesden where the head has announced retirement plans after allegations of “bullying and harassment” towards staff.

A former parent, whose three children attended Leopold Primary School under the stewardship of Audrey Kendall, led the protest with a megaphone yesterday afternoon in Hawkshead Road.

As reported by the Times last week, a three-day strike is planned by National Education Union members at the school on March 20 to 22, which has a second site in Brentfield Road, which police also attended.

The father, who asked not to be named, roused a baying crowd of mostly ex-parents who had gathered in support of the outgoing headmistress.

He said: “The teachers are going on strike because they want the disciplinary actions against them to be stopped.

Leopald Primary School protest (Picture: Jonathan Goldberg)Leopald Primary School protest (Picture: Jonathan Goldberg)

“In the interest of transparency and clarity, those grievances should still be held. If they feel there is nothing to answer to then all fair and well, but the parents are not happy with what’s going on.

“This is parents and friends. Some of the parents have asked past parents to come and show their support. But 90 per cent of the people here no longer have children here at the school.”

He warned of further protests, adding: “If the NEU decides to strike we can confidently say that they will not have any pavement space because we will have every single parent out here.

“It is not the NEU that runs the school, it’s the parents that run the school. If the teachers want to walk out, we can have the students walk out.

Leopald Primary School protest (Picture: Jonathan Goldberg)Leopald Primary School protest (Picture: Jonathan Goldberg)

“Brent needs to wake up on this matter.”

One parent, who didn’t want to be named for fear of reprisals towards her daughter, said: “The atmosphere at the protest was really toxic and unpleasant with libellous slogans encouraging harassment of hard working teachers.

“I had to take my daughter out by the nursery exit because she was terrified. She is now saying she doesn’t want to come to school any more. I later heard them shouting abuse outside a staff member’s house. How is this in the best interests of our children?”

As reported by the Times on March 7, 13 staff members submitted formal grievances against Ms Kendall in October.

An independent investigator was appointed by the then chair of governors to look into the allegations.

According to the NEU, the investigator’s report was submitted to council officers and the school’s governing body in December which has still not been released.

The NEU said: “Several of [the staff who have submitted grievances] have been subject to disciplinary allegations, at the instigation of the headteacher.”

Ms Kendall announced her retirement, set for March 29, days later.

Phil Pardoe, NEU regional officer, said: “I understand the feelings of parents that they don’t want their children’s education disrupted. However, they don’t know the facts.

“They have been told Ms Kendall has been cleared where the reality is the investigation outcome hasn’t been released.

“If we can reach a resolution in the next 24 hours that will prevent the need for strike action – those guarantees include the safety of our members, their physical safety and safety from victimisation – it will be difficult for them to strike.”

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