Redeployed staff 'shell-shocked'

25th June 2010 at 01:00
Teachers at Paisley's St Paul's Primary in wholesale clearout, as council takes drastic steps to rescue struggling school

The entire teaching staff of a struggling Renfrewshire primary is to be replaced, with the first interviews for the posts carried out this week.

In an unprecedented move, all eight classroom teachers at St Paul's Primary in Paisley are to be redeployed and the headteacher demoted after the council became concerned about the quality and consistency of children's learning experiences, its self-evaluation processes and leadership.

The class teachers were informed of the changes last week and their jobs were advertised immediately as temporary contracts.

The head, Lesley Reid, will remain at the 143-pupil school, but will be demoted to depute to make way for Martha Tormey, headteacher at another Paisley school, St John Ogilvie Primary, who is being parachuted in for a six-month period. The current depute will also remain at the school.

St Paul's teachers are said to be "shell-shocked".

Tim Ward, the school's Educational Institute of Scotland representative, said: "We are all appalled at the whole situation after many years of loyal, hard-working service to the children of our school. We have always done everything asked of us and cannot believe the treatment we have received."

The EIS said it would support teachers who wanted to fight to stay in the school. However, with the first interviews for their jobs carried out two days ago, on Wednesday, the decision would appear to be a fait accompli.

St Paul's teachers have been informed of vacancies in other authority schools and asked to select their preferences. Staff with the longest service will have first choice; the council expects the changes to take effect from August.

The full extent of the problems at St Paul's Primary were first uncovered during a school review conducted by the council in September last year. The review had been brought forward by 18 months at the request of the headteacher, education officers and other educational development staff, said the council.

Thereafter, an action plan was developed and the school was visited regularly by education staff to provide support and monitor progress.

Earlier this month a second school review took place.

According to the council, there was "some improvement" - but not enough. "Overall, we have acted decisively to improve performance," said a Renfrewshire Council spokesperson. "We provided an extensive support programme to improve teaching and learning. Now the best option is to give the school a fresh start and, by making the changes now, we'll be ready to take that forward immediately in the next session. The approach taken isn't common, but we feel it's the best solution."

The authority had no plans to close the school, he said.

"The decision to redeploy the staff from St Paul's and to appoint an experienced acting headteacher is in no way related to any plan to close the school. There are currently no plans to close this or any other school in Renfrewshire."

Brian McGovern, EIS local association secretary for Renfrewshire, said the union's officials had been assured "there was no blame being attached to any individuals" and that the transfer of the teachers was designed to ensure everyone had a fresh start.

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