Concerns as headteacher returns to role following controversial letter over Bangladeshi families

A headteacher is returning to her Sunderland primary following a letter which caused fury over claims against its Bangladeshi families – leaving its community concerned its views are being ignored.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 4:09 pm
Updated Thursday, 6th May 2021, 5:30 pm

These included weddings and mehndi nights, where Asian brides meet friends before marriages, with her letter adding she felt: “Totally let down by a small element of the Bangladeshi community.”

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Karen Todd, headteacher of Richard Avenue Primary School, is set to return following a "following an absence of leave" after a letter she sent to families caused upset when it referred to Bangladeshi families breaking Covid-19 rules.

Now she is returning, leaving families and Sunderland Bangladesh International Centre concerned.

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A letter to families states the head would return in coming weeks initially working from home.

It adds: “Mrs Todd and our school governors are dedicated to ensuring that Richard Avenue is a vibrant, multicultural school that fosters a stimulating, creative and inclusive environment for your children to learn in and grow.

Richard Avenue Primary School's board of governors have sent a letter to families explaining headteacher Karen Todd will be returning to her role.

“As we begin to see coronavirus restrictions ease in our area over the coming months, reconnecting with our community is important to us.

"We’ll be in touch again soon to look at how we can work together to move forward and achieve this.”

One parent said they had “genuinely concerns” about the decision.

They said: "I’m also appalled at how the email has just glazed over the issue of why she was suspended in the first place.”

The Tatham Street centre said correspondence with the school has gone without reply and it is looking to set up a public forum for families.

When the Echo contacted the school we were told to contact the governors and were sent extracts from a letter to parents by Together for Children on behalf of the governors.

Together for Children, which works on behalf of Sunderland City Council, said in December it was unable to comment while an investigation was ongoing.

When the organisation was asked for a response to the head’s return after it provided a comment on behalf of governors a spokesperson said that as the responsibility to respond to complaints or investigations lies with governors, it would be inappropriate to comment further.

Northumbria Police said officers were at the school gates earlier this week as part of patrols.

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