North London school head resigns over widespread issues with bullying, racism and sexual harassment

By Staff

A North London primary school is to be converted into an academy after it was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted due to widespread issues of bullying, racism and sexual harassment. Parents were said to have lost confidence in the school and the head teacher, Martyn Boxall, has resigned in light of the damning Ofsted inspection which has since seen the Government step in to order the school’s conversion to an academy.

In a letter sent out to parents, the school apologised for the “shock and disappointment” of the report and announced the resignation of Mr Boxall with the school continuing to be led by acting head Richard Sternberg, who was noted by Ofsted to have been running the school at the time of the November 2023 inspection. Mr Boxall was “absent from the school” during the inspection.

Located on Spencer Road in Wembley, Byron Court provides education to 872 pupils, ranging from ages four to 11. It was given an ‘outstanding’ rating when it was inspected in 2012, but a scathing report following the two-day inspection on November 28 and 29 last year highlighted the school’s “marked deterioration”.

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Acting head Mr Sternberg informed parents the school had been issued with an academy order by the Department for Education (DfE). The school claimed it is “working hard to address issues current and historical”.

Mr Sternberg wrote: “Governors are committed to keeping everyone informed of events and the academy order process. Therefore we are letting you know that we have been informed that the London Regions Group is proposing that Byron Court Primary School join Harris Federation.”

He added: “I am sorry that this has been a shock and a disappointment to you. Please be assured we’re determined to see this an opportunity for change and improvement in our school, and we are working hard to make that happen.”

Harris Federation is a multi-academy trust (MAT), designed to improve and maintain high educational standards across a number of schools. It runs 54 primary and secondary schools across London and Essex.

Academy schools are directly funded by the DfE and independent of local authority control. Mr Boxall’s resignation takes effect from the end of this term (March 28).

The Ofsted report noted that pupils’ behaviour and attitudes had “significantly declined” over time, with concerns raised about bullying, racist language, and sexual harassment. Break times were described as “chaotic” even if there was a member of staff on duty. Inspectors criticised the school’s “turbulent leadership”, which they claimed had led to a “sharp decline in standards” in all aspects of school life.

Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, Cllr Gwen Grahl, said: “The situation at Byron Court Primary School following its recent Ofsted report is understandably causing concern among parents, pupils and teaching staff. As a local authority we have been working closely with the school’s leadership team to provide support with the issues raised in Ofsted’s report. A new Chair and Vice Chair of Governors are now in place and we are working closely with them to ensure that the necessary improvements are made as quickly as possible at the school.”

She added: “We feel that the oversight offered by the local authority is invaluable, for teaching staff, pupils and the wider community and wherever and whenever possible we always encourage schools to remain part of the Brent family of council maintained schools. Regrettably, the legal position is that schools with an ‘inadequate’ rating must become academies following the issue of an academy order. This decision now rests with the Secretary of State for Education.”

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