Burgess Hill head quits over 'factory farming' pupils

Kit Messenger
Image caption Kit Messenger said she no longer felt able to achieve her vision for the school

A head teacher has resigned from a West Sussex primary school, saying "factory farming" children was failing to prepare them for the future.

Kit Messenger will leave Manor Field Primary in Burgess Hill at the end of the summer term, after 16 years.

In a letter to governors, she cited the narrowing curriculum and government plans for all schools to be academies.

The governors said they were saddened but supported the reasons for her resignation.

'Untenable pressure'

Ms Messenger said she no longer felt able to achieve her vision for children at Manor Field in the current educational climate.

"The narrowing of the curriculum has increased significantly over the past two years ... the pressure to focus only on reading, writing and mathematics has become untenable," she said.

"I have increasingly felt that we are 'factory farming' our children and failing to prepare them adequately for a successful future.

"The recent announcement that all schools should become academies has further strengthened my believe that now is the time to leave a career that has been central to my life for 23 years."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has defended the government's academies programme

The school's chair of governors Margaret Foote said a new head would be appointed from January, with the deputy becoming acting head until then.

"Because of the strong structures in leadership the governing body are confident the school will continue to run efficiently and effectively," she said in a statement.

West Sussex County Council said it was writing to the government to express its concerns regarding the White Paper.

"In particular we feel there is not a strong enough voice for the parent and child in the approach," it said in a statement.

"We believe families are entitled to a choice and that one-size does not fit all.

"Above all we think educational matters should be decided on locally and not nationally."

The Department for Education has not yet commented on Ms Messenger's resignation.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has previously defended the academies programme announced in the March budget, saying schools are more likely to produce better results if turned into academies as they use expertise to improve bad performing institutions.

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