Teachers ‘threatened’ over controversial school merger

Pupils, parents, ex-pupils and local residents protest about the proposed merger of Torriano Infants

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

Teachers who oppose the proposed merger of two schools have been threatened with disciplinary action, it has been claimed.

Around 600 parents and staff in Kentish Town have signed a petition against the controversial proposal to merge Torriano Infant School with Torriano Junior School next door from September.

Their outrage is shared by infants school governor Kim Issroff, who broke ranks last Thursday when she derided a widely-criticised public consultation on the merger at a council committee meeting. She said: “The whole process has been shrouded in secrecy and threats. The consultation has been a waste of taxpayers’ money.

“We are left with a school in turmoil, governance completely undermined, and a community who don’t know what school they will be getting in September.”

It was claimed that teachers at the school have been warned that they will face “consequences” if they publicly oppose the merger or join in protests.

The children, schools, and families scrutiny committee was discussing the plans ahead of a cabinet meeting last night (Wednesday), at which cabinet members were due to launch a second public consultation on the merger.

The infants’ school was rated ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted at its last inspection in 2014. By contrast, the junior school was ranked as “outstanding” by Ofsted following an inspection in 2009.

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Kentish Town Labour councillor Jenny Headlam-Wells, a governor at Torriano Junior School, defended the proposal, and said: “I agree that there have been unfortunate incidents which have happened but we need to move on now.

‘‘We want to be one family and end up with a school that is outstanding for both parts.”

In a joint statement from Margaret Harvey and Luca Salice, chairmen of governors at the infants’ and junior school respectively, both denied that anybody had been threatened.

They said: “Staff had simply been reminded to keep within the terms of their contracts during the process of consultation and seek advice from their union when appropriate.” They added that the merger would guarantee a good education for Torriano children.