Suspended headteacher resigns from troubled primary school in Sudbury

Uma Pandya (pic credit: Sudbury Primary School website)

Uma Pandya (pic credit: Sudbury Primary School website) - Credit: Archant

The headteacher of a Sudbury primary school suspended under allegations of “gross misconduct” has resigned.

Ian Phillips, chair of governors at Sudbury Primary School

Ian Phillips, chair of governors at Sudbury Primary School - Credit: Archant

Uma Pandya, head teacher of Sudbury Primary School in Watford Road, has resigned while an independent investigation into the allegations took place.

Ms Pandya started at the school, which has 930 pupils, 25 years ago becoming headteacher three years later.

She said: “I will always love Sudbury but, with the establishment of a new governing body and the completion of an extended plan to improve the accommodation, it is time to hand over the reins to a new generation of leaders who can take the school forward.

“I have complete faith that the excellent staff will continue to deliver the very high quality education which Ofsted recognised and that pupils will continue to thrive at Sudbury Primary School for many years to come.”

The school, which converted to academy status in 2012, has been blighted with controversy since Ms Pandya’s suspension in November with claims of in-fighting among staff and a feud within the governing body.

The formerly “good” school was downgraded by Ofsted, the education watchdogs, with its report in January stating required improvement in the effectiveness of leadership and management.

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Union chiefs welcomed her resignation saying they felt “vindicated in their long struggle to make the school safe.”

In two secret staff ballots in November and December more than 40 workers voted unanimously for industrial action if Ms Pandya was reinstated as headteacher.

Hank Roberts, secretary of Brent’s Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: “Ms Pandya should have done this a long time ago. We’ve had members who were bullied. We’ve seen and heard the evidence. She obviously realised she would have faced disciplinary action and we are under no doubt whatsoever that from her actions that she would have faced dismissal.”

Lesley Gouldbourne, Brent NUT Secretary said, “The Unions have been vindicated in their long struggle to make the school safe and successful for children and staff. It is an excellent example of the unions working together. Bullying like this should not be tolerated.”

Ian Phillips, chair of the governing body, said: “The governors of Sudbury Primary School wish to place on record their gratitude for the many years of service that Ms Pandya has given to the school. We wish her well for the future as we continue the work we set out on at the beginning of 2016 to make Sudbury a stable, viable and happy school where pupils thrive, which parents are proud to say their children attend, where staff are motivated and valued, and where governors understand their role and are committed to excellence.”

The search for a new head teacher begins immediately with the aim of starting in the autumn term.