Head resigns in union row

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A PRIMARY school is recruiting a new leader after its headteacher resigned amid allegations of “unacceptable management practices”.

Members of the NASUWT teaching union at Shotton Hall Primary School, in Peterlee, had voted for industrial action due to the way the school was being run.

The union said the action involved “protecting members from having inappropriate interactions” with headteacher Nicola Leyland.

But Mrs Leyland, who joined the school in September 2012, left earlier this month for personal reasons and an interim head, Rebecca Pavey, of Wheatley Hill Community School, was appointed.

A second interim head, Judith Hodgson, from a Durham school, is due to take over from September, but a new full-time headteacher vacancy is being advertised, to start on January 1.

NASUWT executive committee member John Hall said “grievances” of union members against the former headteacher were being investigated following “substantial unacceptable management practices”.

HM Inspectorate of Education was called in earlier in the year after Ofsted said the school requires improvement.

A follow-up visit saw improvements had been made but found “there is still more to do to make sure all teaching is as good as the best”.

Dennis Coates, who was chair of governors before resigning in June, said he felt teachers had no confidence in him as the first he knew about the industrial action was in a letter from the union.

But Mr Coates, a governor for 24 years, said: “I know the school is heading in right direction. The main thing is they are providing a good education for the children.”

Former vice-chair Carole Barclay has stepped into Mr Coates’ role.

Mrs Barclay said: “I am the new chair of governors and I am working closely with the governing body and local authority and we are already busy recruiting for the right new headteacher.”

A Durham County Council spokeswoman said: “We are working with unions and staff during a period of significant change in school leadership following the departure of Mrs Leyland.”

She added that the authority is aware of the situation and that it has not impacted on pupils. Mrs Leyland was unavailable for comment despite efforts by the Mail.