Strike action not ruled out at troubled St Mary’s

Part of Leyland St Mary's Catholic Techology College is demolished following the fire last September
Part of Leyland St Mary's Catholic Techology College is demolished following the fire last September
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Staff at a Leyland high school are in revolt over claims of ‘Machievaillian’ management and are not ruling out strike action over the growing concerns, the Guardian can exclusively reveal.

Leyland St Mary’s Catholic Technology College, which has made headlines in recent months after it was devastated by a blaze in September, has come under the spotlight again over claims its staff are ‘stressed’ and ‘frustrated’.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) says its members ‘want to be treated as professionals’, and strike action could be on the cards in future.

Avis Gilmore, regional secretary for the NUT in the North West, said: “We are aware of these concerns and we have been meeting with our members.

“We are representing our members and we are trying to address the issues.

“We don’t think it’s appropriate to strike at this time, but we are not ruling it out in the future.”

She added: “Our members want to go into work and be treated as professionals and feel valued at work.”

She said some of the issues related to the affect the fire has had on the Royal Avenue school, although the Guardian understands the concerns date back before then as well.

In a letter sent to head Kathryn McNicholas, seen by the Guardian, an anonymous whistle-blower describes how the situation since the blaze has been a ‘fiasco’.

An online petition has also been launched and sent to Lancashire County Council, which claims staff have been ‘bullied and harassed by the management’.

The letter, sent from a ‘concerned party’, says the issues go as far back as before the summer holidays last year, but were made worse after students had to return to school two weeks late, with some being taken to another site in Preston until the Christmas holidays.

It suggests “the fire should have been a chance to build bridges and recreate the team” but instead the fire is being “blamed on a whole host of current issues.”

It reads: “As a person who has had links with the school for many years, both professionally and personally, I intended to write this letter over the summer holidays and deliver it to school.

“After the fire, it did not seem appropriate to pen such a missive, but I feel that I have to express my feelings about some of the unprofessional and chaotic events unfurling in front of the staff and students of St Mary’s.

“The timetabling fiasco at Ribbleton and the lack of communication with staff caused friction and stress.”

The letter adds that the “sentiment in the staff room was poor towards the end of the last academic year” and that “many of the frustrations that staff have are not related to the fire.”

In the online petition, it says that staff are ‘suffering’ from by the ‘Machievaillian regime’.

It adds that the ‘once thriving and successful school is now on its knees’.

It also says that an investigation by Lancashire County Council ‘is of paramount importance’.

Christopher Raven, chair of governors at Leyland St Mary’s, said: “The school is going through a difficult time and we are aware that there are some concerns among the staff team, which we are working hard to resolve.

“However, our priority continues to be keeping school life as normal as possible for our students, especially those who are sitting exams while building work is under way.”

The Guardian contacted Miss McNicholas for a comment but she did not wish to speak.