More than 30 teachers of Leyland St Mary’s Catholic Technology College are due to strike tomorrow, as it is announced that headteacher Kathy McNicholas has returned to her duties.
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”, and “no formal action” is being taken by the governing body following the findings.
Chair of governors, Kathleen Cooper, has written to parents to explain that 31 out of the school’s 54 teachers are taking industrial action tomorrow (Thursday).
It means that Year 9 students will have to stay at home for the day, and Year 10 pupils will attend school in the morning to complete two mock exams, but will then have to leave school at 1pm.
In her letter, Ms Cooper says she is ‘disappointed’ at the decision for staff to strike, and offers her apologies and ‘regret’ at the situation.
She also stresses that the school body “must now work together to strengthen some of the relationships within the school”.
Plans were passed this month for the school to be redeveloped after most of the buildings were destroyed by a fire in September, and Ms Copper adds: “My sincere hope is that we can move on from this difficult period and concentrate on providing a stable and happy school environment for our students as the physical rebuilding of the school begins.”
Members of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers were due to strike over an internal dispute at the school in April, but it was called off at the eleventh hour after Miss McNicholas announced a leave of absence.
Parents were told that she was on ‘personal leave’, and deputy head Chris Meldrum became acting head.
In May, an associate headteacher also stepped in to help the troubled school.
Ms Cooper’s letter reads in full: “I am able to confirm that the governing body has received and considered a report into the alleged concerns regarding leadership and management at Leyland St Mary’s.
“We accept the report’s findings and there is no formal action we need to take. We are therefore delighted to welcome Miss McNicholas back to full duties as Headteacher at St Mary’s.
“We are advised that the complainants have the right to appeal within ten days should they not be satisfied with this outcome. Some members of staff have chosen to express their dissatisfaction by proposing to take industrial action.
“They are of course legally entitled to do this, although I am disappointed that they have chosen to do so.
“In light of this information, I regret to inform you that I have received notice of intent to take industrial action on Thursday 19th June 2014.
“This affects 31 teachers from a teaching staff of 54. The staff who will remain in school are not allowed to teach classes for striking colleagues. Supply agencies are prevented by law from supplying teachers to cover the work of regular employees taking industrial action.
“As a consequence, and following consultation with the Governing Body, we have been able to make provision for pupils in Year 10 to attend school in the morning to complete two mock examinations. They will then be required to go home for the afternoon at 1pm.
“Unfortunately we are unable to provide transport at that time. Please could you complete and return the attached reply slip to indicate whether you are able to accommodate this.
“We will also be able to ensure curriculum provision for pupils from Years 7 and 8 but regret that we will have to ask parents of pupils in Year 9 to keep their youngsters at home. I do apologise for the inconvenience that this will cause and regret the loss of another day’s education for your child, but this decision had to be taken with the safety and welfare of pupils as our paramount concern.
“School will be open as normal on Friday 20th June 2014.
“We must now work together to strengthen some of the relationships within the school. The governors are already working hard to achieve this, with the help of advisers from the county council.
“My sincere hope is that we can move on from this difficult period and concentrate on providing a stable and happy school environment for our students as the physical rebuilding of the school begins.”
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