Pro-Palestinian protesters 'sent death threats' to staff at East London primary school and threatened to 'burn it to the ground'

Friday 19 January 2024

Pro-Palestinian protesters sent death threats to the headteacher and staff at an East London primary school and threatened to burn it to the ground.

Barclay Primary School in Leyton has hired private security and asked for a police presence to support staff on site following the “serious threat”.

It comes after the school was engulfed in a row with some parents after allegations a pupil had been bullied by teachers “for being Palestinian”.

Investigations found no evidence to support the claim but staff have since faced “aggressive and confrontational interactions” with protesters.

In a letter to parents the school said it had closed its main reception and installed CCTV cameras to “actively manage the risks being presented”.

TalkTV's Nick Ellerby said: "This all goes back to before Christmas, when rumours circulated online that a young pupil here was suspended and bullied by members of staff for displaying a Palestinian flag on his clothing.

"It is the school's uniform policy for children not to display any political symbols.

"Internal and external investigations concluded no such bullying had taken place but following that, masked men put Palestinian flags on the fences around the school in December.

"There was also a protest outside the school with people shouting 'Barkley, shame on you!'

"The school closed early for Christmas because of people were worried about the safety of pupils and staff and over Christmas it received a credible, written threat."

The Head of Ofsted has said that in some schools there are “no-go” areas for staff, with teachers fearing for their safety.

This comes as Ofsted called for more work to be done after the suicide of headteacher Ruth Perry.

New proposals, which include guidelines showing school leaders how to stop an Ofsted inspection if staff show signs of distress, have been published in response to senior coroner Heidi Connor’s prevention of future deaths report.

Mrs Perry killed herself after an Ofsted report downgraded her Caversham Primary School, in Reading, from its highest rating to its lowest over safeguarding concerns.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said there has been a “welcome change in tone from Ofsted this year”, and early actions the watchdog has taken “are a small step in the right direction”.

He also said that “more needs to be done” to fully address the concerns school leaders face.

Mr Whiteman added that NAHT has compiled a report into the “changes necessary to make our inspection system fair, proportionate and humane”, which includes support from school leaders for the removal of one-word judgments.