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Fears for school as its head resigns

PUBLISHED: 14:17 01 February 2008 | UPDATED: 19:36 05 July 2010

THE headteacher at Elm Tree Middle School has resigned with immediate effect after claims by the education authority he had "taken the school as far as he could.

THE headteacher at Elm Tree Middle School has resigned with immediate effect after claims by the education authority he had “taken the school as far as he could.”

Peter Stiven stunned staff and pupils on Friday morning when he announced that he was leaving straight away following crunch meetings with his employers Suffolk County Council.

But one Waveney councillor believes his departure was forced, in a move by the council to get rid of a middle school in the midst of a major overhaul of the education system.

Nick Webb, who has three children at the school, and represents the Whitton Ward, said Mr Stiven was drafted in, in July as interim headteacher.

He said Mr Stiven had turned the school in Ranworth Avenue, Lowestoft, around and the children were devastated by his absence.

“He's done a fantastic job and everyone is delighted with the work he has done. He brought about changes in policy, behaviour, management, reward schemes - he had given the children ownership of their school.

“He announced it in assembly on Friday morning and although it was fairly obviously he had done it off his own back, it was also obvious he had been backed into a corner.”

Mr Webb said he feared the decision would be the demise of the Lowestoft school.

“This was clearly a decision neither he, the staff, the parents or more important than anything the pupils wanted, but has anybody asked these wonderful children about the great job Mr Stiven has done? Come September the school won't have a new intake because parents don't know whether they are coming or going.

“This is just what the authorities are banking on; it gets them off the hook when all Lowestoft middle schools close they will turn around and say the demise of Elm Tree Middle was nothing to do with us.”

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said they were committed to keeping the school open, until at least 2010, when the changes which may be brought about by the School Organisation Review would begin.

“Every child's education at Elm Tree every single day is absolutely vital for that child and we work hard to keep standards very high for every child at all times.

“We are confident that the school is well managed, with the deputy headteacher acting with four days a week support from the council's advisor, who is herself a former middle school headteacher.

“There have been difficulties at the school and the council has acted quickly and decisively to put those right. The acting headteacher who has just resigned on his own initiative for his own reasons stabilised the school in important ways, but he clearly felt he had taken the school as far as he could.”

The spokesman added that the local interim executive board at the school had already interviewed several potential new headteachers, but no decision had yet been made as it was vital to get the right person.

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