Children back in school

Return: Greenlands Nursery Infants School last night.'  Picture: GLENN ASHLEY.

Return: Greenlands Nursery Infants School last night.' Picture: GLENN ASHLEY.

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CHILDREN have returned to a Sheffield school at the centre of sex abuse claims but some are still being kept at home by their parents.

Parents, carers and community representatives gathered at Greenlands Nursery Infants in Darnall yesterday morning after a two-day closure sparked by the arrest of a male member of staff - not a teacher - over allegations a pupil was sexually assaulted.

The man was arrested over an allegation of a ‘serious sexual assault’ and is now on bail pending further police enquiries.

Some parents allowed children to return for lessons yesterday but others walked the youngsters home, claiming they were still unhappy with the information being provided by the school.

Hundreds of parents have signed a petition calling for headteacher Sue Daniels to resign over the way the matter has been handled and criticising her for not informing parents about the allegation for 48 hours.

Yesterday parents said they were unhappy at not knowing whether she was still working there. Sheffield Council later confirmed that she had stayed away.

A council spokeswoman said: “This has been a very challenging week for everyone associated with the school. As employers we have a duty of care to all staff.

“A joint decision between the governors, the headteacher and the local authority was taken that it was in the best interest of the wellbeing of the headteacher that she worked off site for the rest of this week.”

A total of 122 out of 300 infants and 307 out of 358 juniors turned up for lessons. Abdul Shoeb, aged 32, who has two daughters who usually attend the school, said he would keep them at home until after the half-term break.

“There was a meeting for the Bengali community in the area over the situation at the school and we agreed to keep our children at home. Parents are worried because of the allegation made and want the school to tell us what they are doing to guarantee safety,” he said.

But Ahmad Albakha, who has a six-year-old son at the school, said: “My son has gone back because we need to get back to normal. I have never known anything like this before and it is worrying but education is important.”

Jasim Rashid, 44, sent his child back: “The community is still upset and shocked but education is important, very important, so the children need to go back to school.”

Mohibur Rahman, 47, was one of those who took his son, aged four, back home.

“Until I know that the headteacher has gone and the school can guarantee safety my son will not be going back.”

Nazoral Haque, a 38-year-old father-of-three, said it was time for the community to move on.

“Whatever has happened, if it has happened, is being dealt with by the police and the school needs to be able to concentrate on the education of our children now,” he said.

A Sheffield Council spokeswoman said: “The school reopened, children are back in class and continuing to learn.

“We recognise this has been an anxious time for all concerned.

“Throughout this week, specialist staff have been in the school to offer support, advice and reassurance to parents. This support will continue whilst parents feel they need it.”

Coun Jackie Drayton, Sheffield Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families, Lifelong Learning and Skills said: “We have listened carefully to the issues raised by the community and will continue to do so.

“We will work in partnership with the school and community to address these issues.

“Some have been dealt with immediately, others will need a longer-term plan. However, we are committed to working together to ensure a positive way forward for the school, parents and children.”

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