Head suspended over teacher strike

Pat Hurst,Press Association
Sunday 23 October 2011 03:58

The head teacher of a troubled high school has been suspended after teachers went on strike over bad behaviour and poor management, authorities said.

Staff at Darwen Vale High School in Darwen, Lancashire, staged a one day strike last month after being angered over what they said was a lack of backing from the head, Hilary Torpey, and other management at the school when they confront unruly children.

The unusual move - teachers have gone on strike over pay and conditions before but rarely over school discipline - came after Education Secretary Michael Gove signalled a new crackdown on discipline in the classroom.

Around 70 teachers with placards picketed the school gates demanding action on April 7.

Now the school governors have decided to act, saying "issues" have arisen that need investigation.

Calls to Blackburn with Darwen Council for further information were not returned.

Instead a statement, replete with spelling mistakes, was issued by the council on behalf of the chair of governors, Don Heatlie-Jackson.

The (corrected) statement read: "A number of issues have been brought to my attention as the chairman of the school's governing body.

"As these require a full and proper investigation, a without prejudice decision has been taken to suspend the head teacher of Darwen Vale.

"It would therefore be inappropriate to discuss this matter further.

"We would like to reassure parents that the education of our young people remains our priority."

Simon Jones, from the National Union of Teachers, said: "Union members will cooperate fully with the thorough investigation that must now be undertaken into the allegations that have been made.

"Since members took strike action on April 7 2011, intense negotiations have been taking place with senior local authority officers and the chair of governors and considerable progress has been made towards agreeing strategies that, if properly implemented, should lead to the resolution of this unfortunate dispute.

"We remain committed to securing a constructive outcome for our members and the school and look forward to being able to make this work with the interim management team."

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