School boss resigns over HEART fiasco

Trust CEO Claire Smith has worked with Panif Patel for  three years
Trust CEO Claire Smith has worked with Panif Patel for three years

The chairman of the board at the HEART Academies Trust has resigned and will leave his post in January.

Hanif Patel will leave his role following the outcry over a proposed overhaul of three of the four schools in the trust.

Under the plans, which could still go ahead, the headteachers at three Bedford primary schools would lose their jobs, along with three deputy heads and seven assistants.

Parents said Mr Patel’s position had become “tenable”.

The SSC Action Group, which represents parents from Shortstown, Shackleton and Cauldwell primary schools, said: “We continue to have grave concerns over the level of effective governance arrangements within the Heart Academy Trust and its board of trustee members, including CEO Claire Smith, and the lack of effective scrutiny over decisions that have the potential of damaging the education of our children.

“We hope the new chair of the board for the Heart Academy Trust will be completely independent and not connected to The Harpur Trust (who are their main sponsors; currently the board of trustees is composed of members who either work with or have connections with The Harper Trust).

“Should this be achieved, the SSC Action Group looks forward to working with the newly appointed Chair to rebuild trust with the key stakeholders.”

Mr Patel said: “It is essential for the trust to have a fresh and new person as chairman.”