Education: Exclusion row head quits

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The Independent Online
The headteacher of a school which excluded a pupil for attacking academic standards has resigned days before the publication of a critical inspection report.

Nicola Atkin yesterday announced she was stepping down to give Queen Elizabeth's Endowed School in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, "a fresh start".

Last July, a group of GCSE pupils told a local newspaper too little had been done to rectify failings, including high levels of staff absence, identified by the inspection service Ofsted a year previously. One pupil, Sarah Briggs, 15, was permanently excluded after refusing to withdraw her criticisms and apologise, but was reinstated by governors during the summer holidays.

The row culminated in an intervention by the schools standards minister Stephen Byers, who ordered an inquiry. A team of Her Majesty's Inspectors will report later this year, while a separate report by Nottinghamshire County Council education inspectors, due out next week, is expected to identify weakness throughout the 600-pupil school. Staff at the school protested at what they claimed was "timetable chaos" with a vote of no confidence last summer. Yesterday, the National Union of Teachers welcomed Mrs Atkins' announcement, while Roger Kirk, of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union Of Women Teachers, said he hoped the move would restore stability.

An experienced former Nottingham headteacher, John Round, has taken over as acting head. - Lucy Ward

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