Head says sorry as parents hit out at comments on web

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THE headteacher of a school has apologised after parents were upset by comments he made on his school’s website.

Chris Anders, of Park Community School, Leigh Park, used the phrase ‘accidents of birth’ when referring to challenges faced by the school, which is in a deprived area.

But some parents have felt offended by his choice of words.

Mr Anders made his comments on the Headteacher’s Welcome part of the school website.

It read: ‘Park is a school which is one of the government’s engines of social mobility, where accidents of birth and the unfairness of life’s lottery are overcome through academic progress and success.’

When contacted by The News, Mr Anders said he had been misunderstood when using the phrase, taken from a speech that education secretary Michael Gove made to Westminster Academy in 2010.

He told The News: ‘All I was doing was drawing a comparison between the 90 per cent of the population who can’t afford a private education and society’s elite who can, and that includes many of our politicians across all the main parties.

‘I see how parents in Leigh Park really care about their children being able to make the best progress they can and I’m proud of being a part of that.’

Mr Anders, who is a National Leader of Education in recognition of his ‘outstanding’ leadership – said he had used the same quote in a newsletter six months ago and no-one complained.

‘Clearly, I have let myself down by not making myself understood,’ he added.

‘I’m sorry if my words have been misinterpreted.’

The comment has since been removed from the school’s website.

Parents said they felt Mr Anders should have chosen his words more carefully.

Sarah Sparks, 35, whose children Georgina, 12, and Luke, 14, attend the school, said: ‘None of my children are accidents of birth – Mr Anders has got no right to say that.

‘In my eyes that’s saying every child in Leigh Park shouldn’t have been born. I don’t expect to hear from a headteacher.

‘If that’s the attitude he has about our children, he shouldn’t be at that school.’

Caroline Arnold, 34, has two children at Park, said: ‘I’m fuming,

‘I went to the school, my sisters went there.

‘It’s like he’s looking down on us and saying we’re not good enough.’

Her son Lloyd Garvey, 15, who is sitting his GCSEs, said: ‘It’s disgusting. I think he should apologise. As students we’re expected to respect our teachers but we deserve a little respect ourselves.’

Primary school assistant cook Juliette Wood, 36, whose 11-year-old son is at the school, is demanding a written apology.

She said: ‘He can’t say that about our children just because the area is deprived.

‘His words could seriously harm a young person’s self-esteem.’