Durham Free School head demands apology from MP

Parents and children campaigning to keep The Durham Free School open.
Parents and children campaigning to keep The Durham Free School open.
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THE headteacher at The Durham Free School is demanding a public apology over an MP slating his staff.

North West Durham Labour MP, Pat Glass, told Parliament the school, which is fighting closure, is “a haven for every crap teacher in the North East.”

She told the debate she had repeatedly raised concerns about Belmont-based school, which has had its funding agreement axed after inspectors found the school was failing in a number of areas.

Parents and staff are campaigning to save the school, which they claim is being unfairly treated.

Even pupils at the school have been writing to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan urging for their school to be kept open.

Acting headteacher Julian Eisner has expressed his outrage at the allegations levied against his team by the MP.

He said: “Everyone connected with the school is dismayed and appalled at the abuse of Parliamentary privilege which Ms Glass has used to make false allegations, knowing she can say what she likes and be protected.

“The fact that she hasn’t made the same statements outside Parliament proves that she cannot back them up.”

Mr Eisner added: “I re-assert that no staff currently working in The Durham Free School have left posts at other schools due to lack of competency.

“If Ms Glass had ever bothered to visit the school, she could have found that out for herself instead of using hearsay for political gain.

“The teachers here are a well-qualified, incredibly talented and immensely committed team, dedicated to the wellbeing of our children. That is perfectly obvious when you consider that, despite the extraordinary pressure they are under, it’s business as usual at The Durham Free School.”

Mr Eisner said staff had been “shamelessly maligned” but remained focused on their pupils.

One of the furious parents said: “Durham Free School has indeed become a ‘haven’ - for many vulnerable children who have found safety and hope here having often experienced horrendous bullying in other local schools.

“The reason our school is such a happy, safe place is because of our wonderful teachers who have not only gone the second mile, but third and fourth mile too for our children - utterly committed teachers who have been shamelessly slandered in front of the whole world.”

Speaking in a debate about the school, Ms Glass apologised for the “unparliamentary language”.

“A head teacher in the region told me that the school had become a haven for every crap teacher in the North East,” she said.