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Leopold Primary School head Audrey Kendall announces retirement – days after union threatens to go on strike

PUBLISHED: 18:27 12 March 2018 | UPDATED: 13:59 15 March 2018

Embattled headteacher Audrey Kendall, pictured at the opening of the Kendall building that takes her name in 2012.

Embattled headteacher Audrey Kendall, pictured at the opening of the Kendall building that takes her name in 2012.

Archant

The embattled head of Leopold Primary School this afternoon announced her retirement at the end of March.

Leopold Primary SchoolLeopold Primary School

Audrey Kendall’s letter to parents comes days after union members at the Harlesden school threatened to go on strike over allegations she had subjected some to “bullying and harassment”.

It makes no reference to the row with the National Education Union and instead focuses on her pride at having spent three decades at the helm.

Ms Kendall adds she has been planning her retirement for some time, but that the expansion of the school across two sites delayed the move.

An acting headteacher will take over after the Easter holidays, with Ms Kendall’s final day set to be March 29.

“I am really excited at the prospect of beginning a new phase in my life with new opportunities,” she wrote.

“Please understand I have made this decision of my own accord, and I am immensely proud that I have fulfilled my duty to the children and the school.”

She also urged parents to keep the afternoon of March 24 free for a fireworks display and bouncy castle at the school’s Gwenneth Rickus site.

The NEU had vowed to strike for three days from March 20 if Ms Kendall was not suspended while the allegations were investigated.

According to the union, an independent investigator was appointed by Brent Council to look into the allegations last year and the investigator’s report was submitted to council officers and the school’s governing body in December.

Since then, it is claimed the staff who made the complaints have been subject to disciplinary allegations.

The school, which has two sites in Hawkshead Road and Brentfield Road, has 801 pupils according to its website.

Phil Pardoe, NEU regional officer, said in a statement on Wednesday: “National Education Union members at Leopold Primary School in Brent have voted by a clear margin to take strike action over bullying and harassment by the headteacher.”

Of the independent investigator’s report, he added: “The complainants have still not been informed of the outcome of the investigation, in clear breach of the grievance procedure.

“Meanwhile several of those members have been subject to disciplinary allegations, at the instigation of the headteacher.”

He said Ms Kendall should have no involvement in any disciplinary procedures until the issues arising from the grievances have been resolved.

He added: “The allegations are very serious. It is completely unacceptable for the governors and Brent to sit on the report, and refuse to take any action to protect our members.

“We still hope to find a negotiated solution, but our members have reluctantly decided that they have no option but to take strike action in the face of the unacceptable behaviour of the head and the seeming indifference of the governors and Brent.”

Ms Kendall told the Times: “We are not going to make a comment.” That evening, parents demanded answers from governors, whose acting chair Kofi Baah said he couldn’t discuss “confidential information about an ongoing investigation”.

Brent Council has ignored repeated requests for comment in the wake of the union’s statement and the parents’ meeting, to which it did not send a representative.

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