Harassment inquiry launched at school

MYSTERY today surrounded a major inquiry at one of Suffolk's biggest schools as the headmaster and two of his staff remained suspended.

MYSTERY today surrounded a major inquiry at one of Suffolk's biggest schools as the headmaster and two of his staff remained suspended.

In day two of the inquiry which has sent shockwaves through Suffolk's teaching community, police revealed to The Evening Star that the force had been involved in its own inquiry at the troubled Orwell High, Felixstowe

Officers revealed they have dealt with a complaint of harassment in connection with the three staff who have been suspended.

Meanwhile, speculation is rife over who will take temporary charge of the school, which is closely linked with nearby Deben High.

Felixstowe sources said one name being touted was that of the Deben head, Rob Cawley, who has widespread knowledge of the secondary schools scene in the area.

Police officers were brought into the allegations at Orwell High after they had a complaint from a 39-year-old woman about harassment by a man.

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Police said the man had been issued with an harassment warning about his behaviour.

The identity of the man is not known but it was not headteacher Peter Tomkins, 43, who is one the three staff suspended.

A police spokeswoman said the harassment issue was the only involvement officers had had at this stage in the situation at the 830-student school in Maidstone Road.

“We are aware of the situation at the school and keeping track of it but the school is carrying out its own investigations,” she said.

School governors have launched an inquiry into “a number of allegations”.

No details have been released about the inquiry, but it has been stressed that it does not involve any pupils.

Chairman of governors John Barker said: “We are taking all necessary steps to ensure the education of young people at the school is not affected.”

An independent team is making a full investigation but it is not known how long this will take.

Mr Tomkins could not be contacted by The Evening Star and was not returning calls to his mobile phone.

Meanwhile, staff, students and parents have been left shocked at the suspensions.

One staff member, who asked not to be named, said: “It's been a real shock and it reflects so badly on the school - people can't believe it really. It's not the sort of thing you expect to happen where you work.”

A parent said: “Whatever has gone on has been kept very quiet because no-one seems to know much about it. I don't think it will affect the students.”

Do you have any views on secondary education in Felixstowe and Orwell in particular? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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