Headteacher apologises to Bangladeshis over coronavirus letter

Richard Avenue Primary School

A headteacher in Sunderland has apologised to the Bangladeshi community after suggesting that the behaviour of “a number of families” was exposing staff, pupils and relatives to an increased threat of coronavirus.

Karen Todd, of Richard Avenue Primary School, said in a letter to parents that adults needed to “wake up” after allegedly taking part in a series of named activities “against the law,” the Sunderland Echo reports.

The letter stated that families “have not only put themselves and their families at increased risk of Covid-19, but have therefore increased the risk to school pupils, their families, staff and their families.”

“Mehndi nights have taken place in people’s homes: against the law. Weddings have taken place in family homes: against the law. Families have visited from the local area and further afield: against the law. Workers sharing cars, not wearing masks: against the law. Families awaiting test results and sending their children to school: against the law. It is adults who are making these totally irresponsible decisions and it needs to stop.”

Karen Todd

Following a number of complaints, Mrs Todd issued a personal apology in a second letter just 24 hours later.

In the letter she wrote: “I would like to apologise to the entire school community, particularly those from the Bengali community, for the letter that I issued to parents yesterday.

“I regret sending the letter, and I accept responsibility for the offence caused, as this was never my intention. I am passionate about the inclusive and diverse education of our children and I am truly sorry for my actions.”

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Richard Avenue was rated as “good” – the second highest of four grades – when it received its last full Ofsted inspection in 2014.

Inspectors said “pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is exceptional,” adding: “Discrimination of any kind is not tolerated and all pupils have an equal opportunity to succeed.”

The school was again ranked “good” following a short inspection in 2018 and its website says: “Headteacher Karen Todd has been a stable presence at the school for over 10 years now. Under her guidance the school has grown from strength to strength.”

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