Dagenham headteacher chosen to lead school after controversial merger

A headteacher has been appointed to lead a primary school which opens on Monday following a controversial merger of the infant and junior schools.

Joanne Preston will take the reigns at the bigger William Bellamy primary in Frizlands Lane, Dagenham, it was confirmed last week.

She had been head of the junior school.

Lesley Phillips was the head of the infant school until the Easter break.

Parents at the infant school collected more than 230 signatures against the merger, which was approved by the council cabinet last month.

Meanwhile, William Bellamy nursery nurse, Glen Eve, said morale among staff at the infant school had been low for months.

She said the discontent started in October when an Ofsted inspection found standards at the school were inadequate.

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Ms Eve, 60, told the Post: “This has been a nightmare for many staff. And staff have been ill over this. We have had to deal with this since October 2011.

“No regard was taken of what we thought about this merger. We have all been treated appallingly from start to finish.”

A parent who led the campaign against the merger expressed concerns about the welfare of children and said many other parents were worried that standards would drop as the new school’s intake could grow.

Barking and Dagenham Council has denied there has been any increase in the number of places so far but parents fear in future the school could grow from around 800 pupils – the current level – to about 1,100 places.

Melanie North, of Stower Road, Dagenham whose son Calum, five, attends the school, said: “I’m not against a primary school. I was there myself. It’s just the size. I’m waiting to see what structure there is going to be.

“I didn’t want it to happen. I tried to stop it. I’m just going with the flow. I just want to make sure my son is safe.”

A council spokesman said Ms Preston “has led the junior school out of special measures to being a good school with outstanding features”.

He added: “There has been no increase in the number of children in the school.

“A consultation letter was sent to staff and governors, guardians, carers and parents of pupils in November 2011 as well as trade unions of both teaching and support staff. A staff meeting was held at William Bellamy in December 2011 as part of the consultation followed by a consultation letter.

“In addition a document responding to all the teachers concerns was sent to the infant school for staff circulation.”