Head teacher at centre of Tower Hamlets bullying row steps down

Members of teacher’s trade union GMB delivered a complaint to Tower Hamlets Council Pic: GMB

The head teacher of Bangabandhu School in Bethnal Green, who allegedly bullied support staff has resigned 18 months after formal complaints were first made.

GMB, who represent the support staff at Bangabandhu School learned that Marigold Palmer-Jones has stepped down. Tower Hamlets Council have also confirmed that she has left.

Anna Lee, GMB Regional Organiser said: “This dispute has been going on since July 2016 and we are now in 2018. Whilst we welcome the news that Marigold Palmer Jones has left the school, the local authority and the governing body have still failed to address our member’s grievances.”

Complaints by the staff of bullying, harassment and religious insensitivity against Palmer-Jones, acting head teacher at the time, were first made in July 2016. An inquiry by the Board of Governors of the school supported the claims, but Palmer-Jones was subsequently made permanent in her role. Around 27 members of staff, both teachers and support staff at the school have left since the allegations first surfaced.

Lee said: “The original investigation clearly identified the bullying behaviour by the then acting head teacher. The governing body decided to ignore that and conduct another investigation because they didn’t like what was in the original report.”

Despite many requests, the support staff were never given the full report of the initial inquiry.

The GMB met with Mayor John Biggs in August last year seeking his aid but no council action was taken. GMB wrote to him again in September but received no reply, Eastlondonlines has been told.

Tower Hamlets Council said: ““We worked to resolve the situation with all parties involved, including the GMB. To do so, we met with GMB on a number of occasions and also facilitated an independently chaired conciliation session.”

Lee said: “The governing body were responsible for appointing Marigold Palmer-Jones despite knowing how she had behaved, now no one has any confidence in them.

“They should resign and there should be new elections. It is the only way that this situation can be brought to a close and the school can put this behind it and look to the future.”

Parents protest outside Bangabandhu school.
Pic: Zaheer Khan

In November 2017, parents of children at Bangabandhu School staged a protest outside the school gates amid claims of neglect of pupils and failing management at the school.

Over 80 parents and local people took part in the demonstration. Parents told EastLondonLines they were taking part in the protest because they were extremely unhappy with the quality of management at the school and had serious concern over the safety of their children.

One mother of a three-year-old girl, who did not want to be named, told East London Lines that her daughter had been left alone in the classroom at the end of the school day.

She said: “The door was left open, she walked out of the classroom and out of the school. She crossed a road, passed through a car park by herself and went into a newsagents. She was found by another parent and the owner of the shop who became concerned after they saw her alone in the corner of the shop holding some sweets. The school confirmed this on their CCTV but have refused to let me see the footage. Anything could have happened to my daughter that day.”

Councillor Rabina Khan, group leader of the People’s Alliance of Tower Hamlets, who was at the protest in November, said: “I was astonished to learn what is happening. The governing body are the ones who need to be held to account. The local authority is not taking this seriously.”

Following Marigold Palmer-Jones’ resignation, Eastlondonlines approached the school’s Board of Governors for comment. They did not respond at time of publication.

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