A Salford headmaster praised by government inspectors for his leadership skills is “absent from the school” due to “unforeseen circumstances”. Joseph Donnelly, chairman of the governors at Brentnall Community Primary School, said in a letter to parents on June 14 that he was “unsure” of how long Matt Thompson would be out.
Mr Thompson took over management of the Northumberland Street school in September 2014. A headmaster from another school, Daniel Gauld, was seconded to support the school. Salford Council and the school have refused to explain why Mr Thompson is not working.
Mr Donnelly’s letter read: ‘Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, Mr Thompson is absent from school. At the moment I’m not sure how long the absence will last. For the time being, Ms Clyne, the Deputy Headmistress, will lead Brennnall supported by the Senior Leadership Team.
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“Rest assured that the children’s education remains our top priority and that the staff will continue to work as hard as they have always done. If you have any questions please contact Mrs Clyne in the first instance or I, as Chair of the Governors, via the school’s email address.”
In a second letter dated June 15, he added: “Following yesterday’s letter, the governors have made the decision to seek additional leadership support for the school. Effective immediately, Mr. D. Gauld will serve as Executive Principal for both Brentnall Community Primary and Riverview Primary School. He will work closely with the existing team of Brennnall and Mrs Clyne, who will be promoted to Headmistress.”
A spokesman for Salford Council said: “We do not comment on individual cases. Complaints or allegations involving a member of school staff are always fully investigated and dealt with by the relevant school and its governing body.” Asked for comment, a school spokeswoman said, “No comment.”
In 2017, after Ofsted’s school was rated as good, an inspector wrote to Mr Thompson, saying: ‘Since the last inspection there have been a significant number of changes in leadership which have helped you improve the school and gives you the ability to continue doing so in the future.
“The management team has maintained the good quality of education at the school since the last inspection. You and your management team have created a welcoming, warm and vibrant school. Students enjoy coming to the school and are enthusiastic about their learning.”
The school, just off Bury New Road, has around 200 students. Inspector Helen O’Neill said in the 2017 letter to Mr Thompson: “All your staff are proud to be part of the school and believe the school is led by ‘an inspirational leader who believes passionately that all children these can and will produce good results”. Their core values of “learning, respecting and succeeding” are evident throughout the school’s existence.”
In a welcome letter to parents on the school’s website, Mr Thompson says: “I have been the Principal here for over 7 years and believe that Brentnall is a great place for children to come to study in a safe and supportive environment. I am supported by hard work and purposeful employees who, together with our wonderful parents, ensure that our children achieve the best they can.
“My philosophy is that all children deserve the best possible start in life and everyone at Brentnall strives to achieve that result. Everyone in our school belongs and is part of our happy and caring ‘school community’.”