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Camden 'superhead' racks up £1,300 travel expenses in 10 days

PUBLISHED: 10:00 17 September 2015

Juliette Jackson has transformed St. Eugene de Mazenod Catholic Primary into an 'outstanding' school

Juliette Jackson has transformed St. Eugene de Mazenod Catholic Primary into an 'outstanding' school

Archant

A Camden 'superhead' who was hired to oversee a controversial school merger racked up more than £1,300 in travel expenses in just 10 days.

Pupils, parents, ex-pupils and local residents protest about the proposed merger of Torriano Infants and Junior Schools. Picture: Polly HancockPupils, parents, ex-pupils and local residents protest about the proposed merger of Torriano Infants and Junior Schools. Picture: Polly Hancock

Before the merger had even been approved, Torriano Infant School paid an agency £600 a day for 10 days – totalling £6,000 – to hire executive headteacher Juliette Jackson as a consultant on the proposed merger of the infant school in Kentish Town with the junior school next door.

During that time, she amassed £1,373.50 in taxi and other travel expenses, a Freedom of Information Act request has revealed.

The revelation has incensed a large contingent of parents and former staff who have fiercely opposed the merger, which was voted through at a council meeting last Thursday.

Phyllis Johnson, whose three children attend the newly-unified Torriano Primary School, said: “It’s an absolute shock. That money has come from our kids. Mrs Jackson was only in the school building a handful of times.”

The 27-year-old, of Kentish Town, added: “I have no words.

“To cost £600 a day and on top of that to have a £1,300 taxi bill is absolutely disgusting.”

Brenda Smith, a former teaching assistant at Torriano Infant School, echoed her concerns and said: “It’s an outrage, and I’m just disgusted by it.

‘‘Where does that money come from? Is it from the children’s learning?

“How can Camden justify sending someone in?”

Following the approval of the merger on Thursday evening, Torriano Infant School and Torriano Junior school re-opened on Friday as Torriano Primary School.

The council first proposed the merger last year after claiming that the infants school failed to improve quickly enough following a poor Ofsted report in February 2014.

School leaders have argued that the unified school 
will provide a more stable learning experience for children. But parents were only made aware of the merger plans in May, when a public consultation was launched.

It was then that Mrs Jackson, an executive head at three Camden borough primaries, was appointed through the National Support School agency to oversee the merger and temporarily lead the school alongside acting headteacher Amy Clifford for 10 days between May and July.

Mrs Jackson is regarded as one of Camden’s best school leaders, having transformed St Eugene De Mazenod Catholic Primary School in Kilburn from “cause for concern” to “outstanding” as its headteacher.

She also helped its sister school Our Lady’s Catholic Primary School in Camden Town come out of special measures six months early in 2011.

A Camden Council spokeswoman said: “Payment, including travel expenses, was made by Torriano Infant School to a National Support School [agency] in Camden for a temporary consultative head teacher during the months of May, June and July 2015.

“Mrs Jackson provided valuable strategic advice and assistance during a complicated school merger where additional external expertise was required.

“She received only a proportion of the daily rate paid to the National Support School.”

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