Parents accuse protesters of being on a ‘witch hunt’

Kathy McNicholas at Leyland St Mary's Catholic Technology College after the fire
Kathy McNicholas at Leyland St Mary's Catholic Technology College after the fire

Parents have voiced their worries that strike threats at Leyland St Mary’s Catholic Technology College are part of a ‘vendetta’ against headteacher Kathy McNicholas.

Since Miss McNicholas took a leave of absence for ‘personal reasons’ last week, and following threats from teachers to strike on Wednesday, parents have come forward to defend her.

One dad, whose son is in Year 11 at the Royal Avenue school, told the Guardian: “Some of us are really angry about what’s being said about Miss McNicholas; it’s a disgrace.

“It’s just a small number of teachers who are against her, those who don’t like change.

“She’s being made out to be the wicked witch. It’s like a witch hunt.”

Miss McNicholas took over from Mike Wright in 2012. In her absence, deputy head Mr Meldrum will take on the role as acting headteacher.

The dad added: “Miss McNicholas does so much for the children, even outside of school. She’s always there to support the pupils, which is what a headteacher should do.

“She coped so well after the fire in September as well; getting students back in school and learning two weeks later.

“Nobody expected that. It was phenomenal.”

He also criticised teachers who geared up to strike last week, saying it is not in the best interest of the children.

“For teachers to threaten to strike two weeks before some pupils are due to sit their GCSE exams is disgusting,” he said.

Another parent said online: “There are obvious issues relating to leadership at the school following the departure of a long-standing and well-liked and respected head, Mr Wright, and the fire has been something any headteacher would find difficult to address and overcome.

“As a parent, I feel Miss McNicholas has done a remarkable job in the worst possible situation at the start of her headship.

“I cannot comment on teachers’ issues within the school, be they genuine complaints or a vendetta against the new head’s appointment, but regardless of these issues, I do not feel teachers are putting the pupils first, which regardless of their stresses and issues, they should be working tirelessly to ensure continuity of our children’s education.

“This does not come across when I review my child’s education here over the last school year.”

They added: “I have no sympathy for anyone taking strike action and using strike action as a threat to get what they want.”

Another said the situation was ‘appalling’ and added: “Exams start in just over a week. What a stupid time for teachers to start complaining.

“If things were so bad, why was nothing said or done before now? It’s the children who are going to suffer the most.”

To see the Guardian’s story about the head going on leave and a new chair of governors stepping in at Leyland St Mary’s, Click here