Essex

Suspended Essex trust head teacher's Ofsted duties 'on hold'

Catherine Hutley and Nardeep Sharma Image copyright Thrive Academy
Image caption Catherine Hutley (left) and Nardeep Sharma are currently suspended from their roles at Thrive Academy Trust

A head teacher under investigation at an academy trust has been suspended from carrying out Ofsted inspections.

It comes after registered inspector Nardeep Sharma was suspended from Thrive Partnership Academy Trust.

The Essex-based trust says his suspension and that of a fellow head teacher in March, was a "neutral act" made amid school management concerns.

Ofsted said Mr Sharma will not be deployed. The BBC has attempted to contact him for comment via the trust.

'Parents losing faith'

Mr Sharma, who receives a salary of more than £130,000 as chief executive plus more than £20,000 in pension contributions, has inspected schools for Ofsted across southern England - including Essex, London and Middlesex.

A spokesman for Ofsted, which pays freelance inspectors a day rate of £335 or more, said: "Mr Sharma notified us of the investigation at the Thrive Partnership Academy and we have informed him that, in accordance with our normal contractual arrangements, he will not be deployed further until the investigation concludes."

Image copyright Google
Image caption Acting heads have been appointed at both the Colne Community (left) and Philip Morant School and College

The trust suspended Mr Sharma from Colne Community College in Brightlingsea and Catherine Hutley from Philip Morant School in Colchester while an investigation takes place.

The partnership, of which its annual accounts reveal an overspend of more than £3m in 2016-17, has not confirmed the nature of its investigation or why Mr Sharma or Mrs Hutley have been suspended.

It said it was not disclosing details of its investigation, which is expected to last for a number of weeks, "to protect the interests of all parties".

The suspensions followed concerns raised by Essex MPs Will Quince and Bernard Jenkin who, in a letter to Education Secretary Damian Hinds, claimed to have been contacted by "parents raising concerns over bullying, support for their children with special educational needs as well as the implementation of a 'no homework' policy at Philip Morant".

They claimed "parents are losing faith in the leadership of the schools".

Under interim arrangements at the trust, Daniel Fox has taken over running Colne Community College while Colin Green and Michele Myers have been appointed acting heads of school at Philip Morant School and College.

Mr Sharma and Mrs Hutley also serve as governors at Broomgrove Junior School in Wivenhoe, though the attendance records show both were absent at the school's governing body meeting in March.

Broomgrove has yet to state what, if any, action it might take.

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