Former JFS headteacher Rachel Fink privately quit her post seven days ago, the school’s chair of governors has confirmed.
Unbeknown to parents and pupils, Fink stood down as head of Europe’s biggest Jewish comprehensive school before last week’s half term break.
She will be replaced for one term only by Sir Michael Wilshaw, 74, former chief inspector of schools in England and head of Ofsted from 2012 to 2016.
Following an emergency meeting on Monday evening, chair of governors Andrew Moss said: “Mrs Fink has decided to step down as headteacher with effect from 31 May 2021 after three years’ service.
“We acknowledge the service Mrs Fink has given to the school and the enormity of the challenges presented during the course of the Covid pandemic. We wish her every success in the future.”
He added: “The governing body will outline plans to recruit a permanent successor to Mrs Fink in due course. However, I am delighted to announce Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s former chief inspector of schools and former headteacher of Mossbourne Academy, has agreed to be interim executive principal for the remainder of this term. He will be supported by Dame Joan McVittie, a former London headteacher, safeguarding expert and a senior Ofsted inspector. Dr Oliver Walton and Mrs Anna Joseph from the school’s senior leadership team are also taking lead supporting roles.”
The statement concludes: “Parents and carers will have a chance to meet Sir Michael, Dame Joan and the team at a special online meeting, the details of which will be circulated shortly. We appreciate that changes of this nature cause concern. We have full confidence in this team along with the entire staff body to deliver the educational priorities and to maintain the Jewish ethos of the school.”
The school declined to make any further comments when asked by Jewish News why Fink abruptly resigned and why it had taken a week to make public her departure.
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The school has been rocked by three pupil suicides in the space of five years, most recently the death of a Year 10 female student earlier this year.
Fink has been headteacher since 2017, when she took over from executive head Debbie Lipkin, a turnaround specialist brought in after the sudden departure of Jonathan Miller, who relinquished his position after a leave of absence. The school has since remained tight-lipped about why he quit.
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