Investigation into suspended head of Eaton Primary School now in its fourth month

Steve Portas, the suspended head of Eaton Primary. Steve Portas, the suspended head of Eaton Primary.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
7:00 AM

Parents remain in the dark about the fate of a primary school headteacher, more than three months into an investigation following his suspension.

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Steve Portas was suspended from his position at Eaton Primary School, in Duverlin Close, Norwich, at the end of January while an investigation was carried out into “management issues”.

The school was already in difficulties after Ofsted plunged it into special measures with a damning inspection report which was released the previous month.

• Ofsted brands Eaton Primary in Norwich “inadequate”

• Headteacher of Eaton Primary School suspended as investigation into “management issues” gets underway

The council has replaced the board of governors with an interim executive board (IEB) following the Ofsted verdict.

David Lennard Jones, chairman of the IEB, said: “The headteacher remains suspended while the investigation into management issues continues. Suspension is to allow for a full and fair investigation to take place, in the interests of the headteacher and the school.

“We are working closely with the local authority to ensure we follow all the correct procedures, and have a strong and experienced acting headteacher in place to lead the school.

“As this matter is ongoing, I am not in a position to comment further at this time.”

Norfolk police said they are not involved in the investigation.

The school is currently being led by Douglas Dale as acting headteacher.

Mr Portas’s suspension came one month after Ofsted inspectors rated it “inadequate” for achievement of pupils, quality of teaching, and leadership and management.

The report, published on December 9, highlighted “a period of substantial turbulence”, and said a deficit budget, significant safeguarding issues and staffing instability had deflected leaders from their core function.

A follow up monitoring inspection a week after Mr Portas was suspended said the investigation into Mr Portas did not involve safeguarding issues, and Ofsted found that the school’s action plan was “not fit for purpose”. However, the report said: “With the very recent change in leadership, the school is now able to plan and implement the changes and improvements that need to be made.”

In a letter to parents last Friday, acting headteacher Mr Dale said the school’s data showed that its plans were working, and he expected to see some “very positive signs” when the inspectors returned – something he said could happen “any day now”.

The school is currently in the process of becoming an academy, a policy Norfolk County Council pursues for all schools in special measures, and last week Mr Lennard Jones met parents to talk through the process of the school becoming an academy.

What do you think about Eaton Primary becoming an academy? Email martin.george@archant.co.uk

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