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Paola Fuortes-Shah
ashley school - twitter.jpg
Paola Fuortes-Shah
UK News

Church of England academy trust under pressure from parents

by Ruth Sax

A multi academy chain run by the Diocese of Guildford, The Good Shepherd Trust, has been accused of failing to uphold its Christian values in its treatment of a former head teacher of a school it runs.

Mr Richard Dunne, who was formerly head teacher for eighteen years of Ashley Church of England Primary School in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, was suspended from his post last September by The Trust.

He later resigned in November shortly before a disciplinary hearing, citing belief that he would not receive 'a fair hearing’.

The Trust has since come under sustained pressure from parents demanding greater openness and criticising its treatment of the former head. Concerned parents are now calling for an independent investigation of the case.

A petition urging the Education Secretary to set up an investigation has already attracted over 2,000 signatures, including from parents of over two thirds of pupils at the school. Meanwhile £22,500 has been crowdfunded o support the former head take legal action against the Trust.

The organisers of the petition intend to hand deliver it to the Department for Education in the coming weeks. The local MP and Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, has also written to the Education Secretary, to relay concern of local residents and to ‘better understand what oversight and accountability can be exercised in relation to the TGST’.

A group of parents who have formed a pressure group called Ashley Parents 4 Transparency issued a public statement on Friday. Criticisms of the Trust made by seven named parents include an apparent failure to uphold ‘core Christian values’ in its treatment of Mr Dunne, while another parent and journalist, Nick Wallis, criticises apparent ‘evidence of a very un-Christian stitch-up.’

The trust says it's handed over information relating to the case to the Teaching Regulation Agency and the Disclosure and Barring Service to enable them to conduct their independent investigations. 

Interim Chief Executive Officer, Alex Tear said: "The Trust understands that many parents are frustrated by the lack of information concerning Mr Dunne's decision to resign. However, this is an employment matter and the Trust has a duty of care to its employees and must maintain confidentiality for all involved until there is an independent public hearing. 

Ashley Church of England Primary School is a highly valued member of our family of schools and the Trust remains committed to ensuring that the school delivers the best possible education and care for all its pupils."


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