EXCLUSIVE: Controversial headteacher of David Bowie’s school quits for “personal reasons” after Lambeth audit

A primary school federation’s chief has quit for “personal reasons” after it was investigated when one of its school’s Sats results were annulled.

Lilian Umekwe has quit as executive head of a federation of two schools including Stockwell Primary School in Stockwell Road, Brixton, where rock legend David Bowie went to his first lessons – yards from his parents’ Stansfield Road home where he was born in 1947.

Newly-appointed governors’ chairman Rodney Lenthall said in a letter yesterday to parents: “I wish to inform you that for personal reasons Executive Head Teacher of Jessop and Stockwell Federation has decided that she will be leaving her post.

“The Governing Body will consider cross Federation leadership arrangements in due course.

Kenneth Baffoe and Dougal Morton will continue to run the two schools as Heads of School and there will be no disruption to the education of the children.”

One parent who did not want to be named said: “It was something many parents felt very passionate about and were willing to pull their children out of school over.

“There is now a great sense of relief and hope going forward.

“We have been told absolutely nothing by Lambeth. So we will be hoping to hear more from them or the governors about what has happened. We hope this did not involve a settlement payment to Ms Umekwe.

“We also want to hear what Lambeth has learned from his and what they will do with the audit they carried out.”

Stockwell primary had its Key Stage 2 results for 2017 scrapped over “maladministration”.

Staff claimed in October to have been pressured to manipulate test results, their union the GMB said.

More than 18 teaching support staff have lodged a grievance with the GMB union claiming they have to work “under a culture of bullying and threatened reprisals”.

More than 100 parents wrote to Lambeth council claiming a “cover-up” over the Sats, and saying the parent-teacher association has been suspended.

Lambeth carried out an “audit” of the school, which is part of the Jessop Stockwell Federation, which has over 1,000 pupils across two schools.

Staff were told at a meeting on November 13 that she was away for “personal reasons” and if they had any issues they should contact the heads of each school.

A Lambeth spokesman reiterated: “Executive Head Teacher of Jessop and Stockwell Federation has decided that she will be leaving her post, for personal reasons.

“The Governing Body will consider cross Federation leadership arrangements in due course. Kenneth Baffoe and Dougal Morton will continue to run the two schools as Heads of School and there will be no disruption to the education of the children.”

Ms Umekwe has been executive head of the Jessop Stockwell Federation for five years.

She had previously been Deputy Executive Director at Stockwell Jessop Glenbrook Federation, head of Jessop Primary, deputy head of Stockwell Primary and a teacher at Hillmead Primary Schools.

Her LinkedIn profile says: “A National Leader of Education with over 25 years teaching and management experience in primary education spanning within a multi-cultural setting.

Over the years I have built an excellent track record and pragmatic experience in leading schools and managing change in order to drive up standards and achieve the best possible outcomes for pupils in schools.”

Graduate of UCL’s Institute of Education where she did a diploma and a masters in education.
Mr Lenthall added: “While the past few months at Stockwell have been difficult at times, the school is starting a new chapter, with a fresh leadership team in place.

“The acting head Dougal Morton is a talented and hard-working leader, and he’s receiving strong support from the head of Jessop primary, and the experienced headteacher of another local school.

“I’m convinced we have the right team and a positive new approach that will deliver the teaching and learning that all Stockwell children deserve.”

Mr Morton said: “Stockwell is a happy and supportive community, with staff morale and turnover rates already much improved from the past.

All teachers and support staff are working tirelessly so that every child will thrive in a caring and creative environment. It’s already a great place to work and to learn and I’m committed to making it even better.”