New chair of governors ‘prays’ for exam pupils

Pupils being taught in temporary classrooms at Leyland St Marys Catholic Technology College after the fire
Pupils being taught in temporary classrooms at Leyland St Marys Catholic Technology College after the fire

A new chair of governors has been appointed at Leyland St Mary’s Catholic Technology College, as investigations take place into the management of the trouble-hit school.

In a letter sent out to parents on Friday, the new chairman of governors, Kathleen Cooper, says she is praying for the Year 11 pupils who are about to sit their GCSE exams, and assures that governors are working ‘for the best of the school community.’

She writes: “Following a governors’ meeting this week, we would like to assure you that we are working pro-actively to resolve the current difficulties.

“[Headteacher} Kathy McNicholas has requested a period of absence for personal reasons and the governing body has agreed to this.

“Please may we ask that you respect the personal nature of this request.”

Some parents vented online last week that communication from the school was poor, after hearing that Miss McNicholas was on ‘gardening leave.’

One dad also told the Guardian: “We feel absolutely left in the dark, and it just makes speculation worse.”

A short statement was posted on the school’s website to explain that Miss McNicholas was on leave for personal reasons, by the chairman of governors at the time, Chris Raven.

It is not clear why Mr Raven is no longer chairman of governors.

It has been announced that in the interim period, deputy headteacher Mr Meldrum will assume the role of acting headteacher.

The letter adds: “Rest assured we are working for the very best for our school community. We offer our prayers for the whole school community but especially our Year 11s as they enter preparations for their final examination period.”

The school has also announced that extra revision classes are being organised for year 11 pupils, but one parent has told the Guardian it’s ‘heartbreaking’ to see his daughter struggle through her exams.

He said: “The amount of teachers she has gone through is unbelievable.

“The poor girl is working an extra four or five hours every night trying to catch up, she’s so worried about her exams.

“She’s not a straight-A student, and with the lack of teaching ... it’s just heartbreaking to watch.”

The dad-of-two admitted that taking his children out of the school is “not completely off the menu” but said it would be a last resort.

“I feel really angry about what’s happening,” he said.

“It makes you wonder how much disruption they can handle.”

The Guardian previously reported that members of the National Union of Teachers was ‘not ruling out’ strike action over concerns of the school’s management.

Last week, it was revealed that members of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers were due to strike over an internal dispute at the school on Wednesday.

It is understood the action was called off following a governors’ meeting on Tuesday morning, but union leaders did not comment further, as they did not want to prejudice investigations.