Parents protest about new head appointment

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ANGRY parents are threatening to demonstrate outside their children's school in a protest over its newly appointed headteacher.

Joy Waelend has been offered the job of headteacher at St Jude's CofE Primary, in Old Portsmouth, following the resignation of Alan Matthews who has stood down.

However, more than 200 mums and dads have already signed a petition to demand current deputy head Peter Milmore gets the job instead.

They say Mr Milmore, who has been at the school for 13 years and has stood in for Mr Matthews during sick leave, is both popular and effective.

Nikki Shaw, whose eight-year-old daughter Evelyn attends St Jude's, said: 'We are all fuming that Mr Milmore as been overlooked in this process.

'It's a real snub not only to him but also to the parents and children who think so highly of him.

'He wasn't even offered an interview, after all the times he stood in for Mr Matthews and did such an excellent job.'

St Jude's recently dropped an Ofsted grade, from 'good' to 'satisfactory', and parents believe Mr Milmore is the best person to drive up performance.

Louise Harris, mum of a boy at the school, said: 'We're doing this for the welfare of our children.

'We all know how good Mr Milmore is and frankly at a time when we've lost an Ofsted grade, we want to make sure we are retaining the best.'

Mum Sandrina O'Connell added: 'This is a clear vote of no confidence in the governing body who are ignoring the majority voice.'

A strongly-worded anonymous letter was sent to Portsmouth City Council and Portsmouth's Anglican diocese.

Its author, who wishes to remain anonymous, told The News: 'On behalf of all the parents I wanted to record our disgust.

'We will protest at the school gates if no progress is made in the next two weeks, and there will be riots if Mr Milmore leaves.'

Tony Blackshaw, director of education for Portsmouth's Anglican diocese, insisted the proper processes had been followed in appointing Miss Waelend.

He added: 'It was an extremely rigorous process and everyone who applied would have been considered for interview according to certain criteria.

'This was not a matter of snubbing the deputy headteacher.

'We are confident (Miss Waelend] is the best person for the job - and I just hope she doesn't have to walk into all this.'

Julian Wooster, strategic director of children's services, said: 'The position for headteacher at St Jude's was advertised nationally and the school received an overwhelming response, with many strong candidates applying.

'I have no concerns about the appointment process. The governors have recognised, following the recent Ofsted inspection, the need to improve leadership and improvement in the school.'