Entire governing body at Howard Primary School in Bury St Edmunds resigns at time of ‘significant challenges’

PUBLISHED: 18:01 16 November 2016 | UPDATED: 11:46 17 November 2016

The Government is proposing to scrap SATs for seven-year-olds. Stock picture: Getty Images/Purestock

The Government is proposing to scrap SATs for seven-year-olds. Stock picture: Getty Images/Purestock


The entire governing body of a Bury St Edmunds school has stood down at a time of significant change and upheaval.

An interim governing body has been put in place at Howard Community Primary School, with the temporary chairman of governors urging people from the local community to help form a new permanent body as soon as possible.

The mass resignation of the governors comes shortly after the headteacher Bernadette Higgins went on indefinite leave due to personal circumstances.

The school also moved to the former Howard Middle School site at the start of this academic year, with delayed building works causing some teething problems.

Interim chairman Toby Slater Robins, who is also chairman at Henley County Primary School, said: “The local authority [Suffolk County Council] has stepped to give a working governing body to the school to make sure that standards do not slip. A governing body is a legal requirement.”

He added: “At Howard Primary School, I have to say the situation is very optimistic – there is a huge amount of space at the new site, the facilities are impressive and the opportunity for Howard to be a fantastic school at the heart of the community is enormous.”

Mr Slater Robins, said the lack of community involvement at the school did stand out and he is appealing for people in the local community, not just parents, to ask about joining the governing body.

“As far as I can tell there is no PTA (parent and teacher association),” he said. “It is a shame as this school is a big part of the community. 
“I want to be here for as shorter time as possible because governing bodies should be formed of local people, but if I can leave behind a school with strong links with the community that is what I want to do.”

In a letter sent to parents, seen by the East Anglian Daily Times, Mr Slater Robins said the school faces “significant challenges”, uncertainties and difficulties.

The former chairman, Marie Bennett, refused to comment when contacted by the East Anglian Daily Times.

The former vice-chairman, Patrick Chung, who is also a St Edmundsbury Borough councillor, said: “We were told by our chair that they have resigned and that we have to do the same. I do not know why.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council did not explain why the governing body stood down, adding: “There has been a recent change in governance at the school.

“This is something which can happen for a number of reasons such as commitments and capacity. There is a governing body in place at the school, with a chair of governors.”

If you wish to enquire about becoming a governor at the school, you can email Mr Slater Robins at


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