Teachers call off strike as head takes leave of absence

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

The headteacher at a controversy-hit Leyland school has taken a leave of absence - just hours before staff were due to strike.

Parents of pupils at Leyland St Mary’s Catholic Technology College have been told that Kathy McNicholas is on “gardening leave.”

The Royal Avenue school, which was partially destroyed by a fire last September, has been the subject of an internal investigation involving staff grievances.

Members of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers were due to strike over an internal dispute yesterday (Wednesday), but it is understood the action was called off following a governors’ meeting in the school on Tuesday morning.

A message posted on the school website by the governors reads: “I wish to inform all staff, parents and students that for personal reasons the head teacher yesterday asked the Governing Body for a period of leave of absence. This was granted.”

Chairman of governors, Chris Raven, told the Guardian: “Miss McNicholas is currently not in school.

“However, as the concerns within the school are still being investigated, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”

It is understood Miss MicNicholas has not been suspended.

The Guardian reported last month that the National Union of Teachers (NUT) was ‘not ruling out strike action’ over staff concerns regarding the management of the school.

Since the article was published, angry parents launched an attack via social media, saying they were worried about how the problems were affecting their children’s education.

Among the criticisms was the use of temporary staff, which parents feared could have an adverse impact on GCSE results.

The school has now issued a statement via its website stating that extra revision classes were being organised for year 11 pupils.

Mr Raven had also told the Guardian that the reason pupils were seeing numerous teachers for the same subject was because some staff were on sick leave.

The split-site operation, whereby some pupils and teachers were taken to a school in Preston in the immediate aftermath of the fire, was also to blame, he said.

Miss McNicholas was deputy head at the school until she took over the reins from Mike Wright in 2012.

- To see the Guardian’s original story, Click here

To see the reaction from parents, Click here