A BASINGSTOKE secondary school could be without a full-time permanent headteacher for the rest of the year, after the current leader has been off since the Easter holidays.

Charlie Currie announced in February that he had decided to retire as head of Brighton Hill Community School at the end of the school year in August, but has been off for “personal reasons” since the start of this term.

Parents were not informed of his absence until two weeks ago, when Jane Pratt, chair of governors wrote to parents to tell them that an interim headteacher had started at the school, in Brighton Way, on a part-time basis.

She told The Gazette: “Recently, he (Mr Currie) had to take some unexpected leave and it is unclear whether he will be able to return to school this term. Therefore the governors have asked the local authority to help find an experienced headteacher to work temporarily alongside colleagues at our school.”

Despite Mr Currie handing in his notice in February, the governing body appears to have not yet advertised the position for a new head, although Mrs Pratt said “the process of recruiting a new headteacher” had begun.

However, he or she will not start until January 2017, leaving the school without a permanent head for the rest of the year.

Mrs Pratt said she was not concerned about this, adding: “It’s normal practise in schools.”

Asked why parents had not been informed about Mr Currie being absent, she said: “There’s been no need to tell them that he’s been off until now. When headteachers are off they could be on a course or sick and we don’t tell parents every time someone is off.”

Paul Nicholson, who is currently headteacher at The Westgate School in Winchester, has taken over as acting interim headteacher, splitting his time between the two schools.

A letter sent to parents from Mrs Pratt, said: “His task will be to maintain stability and drive the ongoing plan for improvement in Mr Currie’s absence. Mr Nicholson will be in school for at least three days a week and will work closely with Miss Jane Halsey, our deputy headteacher who will have responsibility for the school for the remaining time induring the week.”

Mr Currie has decided to pursue an alternative professional career after retiring, and told parents in a letter: “I have thought long and hard about this decision; at the end of this year I will have been here five years and I am delighted that the school has changed so positively during that time. I have always been, and remain, passionate about this school community and about our students and my decision creates a considerable wrench for me.”

He told parents that the governors would be working to appoint a replacement to start in September.

But Mrs Pratt said there had not been enough time to find someone.