Clearout at troubled primary

14th March 2003 at 00:00
THE unusual and dramatic step of clearing out most of the senior management at one of the largest primaries in Scotland has been taken to allow an investigation into the running of the school.

A bewildering series of events at the 700-pupil Carolside primary appears to have been triggered by the sudden departure on sick leave of Kerr McConnell, the 48-year-old head, who has only been in post since August.

"Almost coincidentally", according to a letter sent to parents on Monday by John Wilson, director of education in East Renfrewshire, the authority then decided to transfer the depute and two acting assistant heads to other schools "on an interim basis".

The letter continues: "An investigation is necessary to address some ongoing concerns the directorate have about general management issues within the school."

Staff have been transferred to ensure the investigation "is in no way compromised", not because of any suggestions of wrongdoing. Two other acting assistant heads, however, remain at the school.

A spokesman for the council said it hoped to complete the investigation by the end of next week. "There is nothing criminal, nothing sexual and nothing financial."

Margaret Ward, head of Braidbar primary in Giffnock, has been brought in to run the school with senior managers to fill the other three posts. In a letter to parents, she said the depute and two assistants had been moved "as part of their personal development as school managers".

The problems at Carolside are understood to be of a long-standing nature, pre-dating Mr McConnell's arrival as head. An HMI report in 1998 found that the management was not an effective team. It said that senior staff must work more closely "to promote more effective teamwork, develop clear and concise policies and agree on a more focused approach to the monitoring and evaluating of learning and teaching".

The report also implied that the then head should be given more support by her senior colleagues "in promoting more effective teamwork". The remits of the senior management team were unclear.

In a follow-up visit to the school, inspectors appeared to be satisfied these problems were being cleared up. But the current investigation suggests otherwise.

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