‘Something is going drastically wrong at this school’

Striking teachers at Leyland St Mary's Catholic Technology College
Striking teachers at Leyland St Mary's Catholic Technology College
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Staff striking outside Leyland St Mary’s Catholic Technology College have spoken of problems with management affecting their health, while parents have told the Guardian of their anger at being ‘left in the dark’.

More than 30 teachers took industrial action today (Thursday) as it was announced that headteacher Kathy McNicholas has returned to her duties.

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

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

Miss McNicholas, who has been on a leave of absence from the Royal Avenue school since late April, has been “welcomed back” following an investigation into the “alleged concerns regarding leadership and management” at the school.

Governors announced that “no formal action” is being taken following the report’s findings, and wrote to parents last week to explain that 31 out of the school’s 54 teachers were set to take industrial action over their “dissatisfaction” of the decision.

Speaking outside the school gates on Thursday morning, a spokesman for the union said: “Extensive efforts have been made to resolve the problems with the headteacher, the chairman of governors and the local authority, but they have continued to fail to exercise their duty of care towards the staff at the school.

“Throughout all of this the Diocese has remained silent.

“The problems at the school have caused work related stress and are affecting the health and well-being of staff.

“Despite promises by the employer to address the well-being of staff no action has been taken.

“An investigation has been carried out into the issues raised and the union is considering the recommendations in the report in detail.

“The report highlights numerous unresolved issues, poor recruitment practices and specific recommendations for improving management practices.

“Unfortunately, while members were considering the report the governors chose to pre-empt the process of consideration and appeal, and therefore there has been no alternative but for members to demonstrate their anger and frustration through strike action.”

The strike meant that Year 9 students had to stay at home for the day, and Year 10 pupils attended school in the morning to complete two mock exams, but had to leave school at 1pm.

One mum, who has contacted the Guardian, responded: “I feel that the parents are not getting a say in this. It’s our children’s education and we’re not getting a say at all.

“I do completely agree with the strike though. There are all sorts of rumours going round about what’s happening there, but all I know is that there are teachers who have been there for more than 30 years and had numerous headteachers, and there have been no problems before now.

“If 31 out of 54 teachers are striking, that’s got to tell you something. I’m just annoyed that we’re being told very little, and I feel like we’re being patronised, like everything is being brushed under the carpet.”

She added: “People are being brought in who have no history of the school, and I’m sorry, but we don’t want that.”

Another parent said: “I’ve heard that quite a few parents have taken their children out of the school now.

“It’s a shame, but it seems like the school is really failing.

“If I knew what the teachers were actually striking about, I may have some sympathy, but parents are being left in the dark, so it’s very difficult to understand what is going on.”

The dad added: “You don’t just go on strike like that. If you’ve got grievances, take it through the proper channels.

“Everyone’s had upheaval, and obviously something is going drastically wrong there.

“We’ve certainly not heard the end of this.”

- To read the chair of governor’s letter in full, visit www.leylandguardian.co.uk