New revelations on suspended school head

EXCLUSIVEBy Juliette MaxamA SUSPENDED headteacher was censured by governors at their last meeting together before he took a year's secondment, the East Anglian Daily Times can reveal.


By Juliette Maxam

A SUSPENDED headteacher was censured by governors at their last meeting together before he took a year's secondment, the East Anglian Daily Times can reveal.

Russell Moon was suspended from Philip Morant School, Colchester, in February following a number of allegations – which have not been made public and which are being investigated by governors.

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Mr Moon took up a year's secondment in September last year at International Networking for Education Transformation to create a global network for schools.

The EADT has learned, through the Freedom of Information Act, that in the last full governing body meeting before Mr Moon took up his secondment that he was officially rebuked by governors for his actions at a previous finance committee meeting.

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At a meeting of the finance committee in May, Mr Moon told governors he had no confidence in a vote they took rejecting his proposal for a scheme to provide laptop computers for sixth-formers and threatened to resign from the governing body.

A month later the finance committee heard Mr Moon had neither apologised for his statement of no confidence nor had he actually resigned as governor.

Now the EADT can reveal that the row boiled over into the July meeting of the full governing body, when governors who had been present at the May finance committee said the headteacher's statement of lack of confidence had been "embarrassing and hurtful".

Minutes of the meeting state a governor asked if an apology had been received. Mr Moon then spoke about the laptop scheme proposal and described the finance committee's vote against it as "bizarre".

The minutes added: "It was stated by a governor that the issue raised was the headteacher's behaviour at the meeting, not the laptop scheme.

"The headteacher said he could not be headteacher in a school where the governing body behaved in such a way. The headteacher said that he thought the process at the finance committee had been poor."

Parent governor Professor John Owens proposed a motion stating that governors regretted the failure of the headteacher to apologise.

There was some discussion about potential effects of such a motion and the minutes said: "Governors and the leadership of a school were in a partnership and the view was expressed that the headteacher should account for his action.

"The headteacher said that he was happy to account for his actions and that his lack of confidence in the finance committee still held.

"Concern was expressed that this could affect the headteacher's position in relation to the finance and premises committee if and when he returned from secondment."

Finance committee chairman Lorna Kean seconded Prof Owens motion, which was amended to "Governors regret the failure of the headteacher to apologise for expression of lack of confidence in the finance committee following the rejection of his proposals to introduce laptops in Year 12".

The motion was carried with 12 votes for, including chairman of the governors Geoff Davison, four against and one abstention. Mr Moon was not present for the vote and did not want to know the results.

He said yesterday: "It is very unfortunate that this episode has come into the public domain via the governing body minutes. Perhaps it would have been wiser to have made them confidential.

"I was very sad that a vote of this nature took place at my last governors meeting before going on secondment. Perhaps the lesson is that if internal disagreements like this happen when relationships become strained, hard work is needed to rebuild trust and harmony.

"The publicity has not helped, but hopefully we can put this incident behind us and focus our skills and talents on what really matters – making the educational experience at Philip Morant even better than it is already."

Mr Moon said at the time he had wanted to lodge his lack of confidence in the finance committee's vote against the laptops scheme because he felt a great opportunity had been missed to take advantage of a new laptop partnership with Microsoft and Hewlett Packard.

Sue Cowans, acting headteacher, said the school did not want to comment.

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