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Headteacher steps down after his disciplinary hearing

A secondary head has announced his retirement shortly after a disciplinary hearing prompted by complaints about alleged bullying and issues around school finances.

Chris Barbour, head of Dumfries High, emailed his staff last Friday to inform them that he was stepping down, "with the best interests of (the school) in mind".

Dumfries and Galloway Council would not divulge details of the three-day hearing it held earlier this month, or make any comment.

It had previously appeared that Mr Barbour would continue in his role at the school, where pupil numbers are understood to have fallen from over 1,000 to about 750 in recent years. It is now believed that he will not return to school after the October break and that another council role will be found for him until the end of the calendar year.

In his email to staff, seen by TESS, Mr Barbour said the atmosphere in the school leading up to the October holiday had been "fantastic", specifically citing pupils' fundraising efforts for "others less fortunate than themselves".

He added: "I think our school is in a great place just now, and there is a brilliant foundation to build upon".

But he wrote that it had been "a difficult year as we have not always had the same agenda being pursued" and expressed hope that "every single member of staff will group together to work solely with the single purpose of fulfilling the potential of every pupil, and that will be the sole agenda for everyone. It has not been the case to date." His parting message was: "Have a great break - I intend to!"

Nearly 20 members of staff were interviewed in connection with the investigation, which was instigated following a complaint by Unison and the EIS. It was alleged that Mr Barbour was negative and undermined staff, allowed his sister to carry out an audit of the school accounts, and that there were questions around how money had been spent, although no suggestion of personal financial gain.

Dumfries and Galloway EIS secretary John Dennis, a teacher at Dumfries High, said: "His being gone gives the school the opportunity to recover and move on."

Mr Barbour was unavailable for comment.

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