Over 60 parents at a Bowdon primary school staged a protest outside the school gates this morning over what they claim is the “climate of fear, intimidation and uncertainty” that has developed in the school since a new headteacher took over.
The protest at Bollin Primary School follows a petition signed by over 870 people that called for headteacher Michelle Brindle, who was appointed in September 2016, to be removed from the school.
It is coinciding with strike action by several of the school’s National Union of Teachers (NUT) members today, triggered by a row over workload that has led to the teachers working to rule since November.
The parents point to “catastrophic” effects on the school – which has been rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted since 2007 – since Mrs Brindle took charge of the school.
It says these have included it being issued with a formal warning notice by Trafford Council; 16 staff submitting grievances against the headteacher; the unexplained resignation of four parent and co-opted governors; and all parents receiving a letter from the headteacher warning them of legal action in relation to defamatory comments allegedly made about the headteacher on WhatsApp.
Julie Saunders, one of the parents who took part in this morning’s protest, said the protesters had resorted to action because “all due process has been exhausted”.
“We’re all feeling very desperate about the situation and we need people to listen,” she said.
“The protest was very good-natured but passionate and it’s about getting the school back. There’s a sense that we have lost all balance between progress and results and what actually is best for the children.”
She said there was a “real camaraderie” between staff and parents who were taking part in the action.
Sinead Barry, a parent of two children at the school, said teachers would soon start to leave unless action was taken.
“Despite raising concerns at every level – up to and including central government – we are continually referred back to our dysfunctional governing body,” she said.
“If decisive action is not taken now, our fantastic teachers will start handing in their notice in droves at Easter. We’ve got six weeks.”
However Sabriah Aljaizani, another school parent, claimed the protesting parents were simply a “very vocal minority”.
“There has been a lot of gossip, rumour, speculation and half-truths put out about the situation at school,” she said.
“We all love our school so let’s unite and leave the head teacher, senior management team, teachers and teaching assistants to sort out their professional issues without interference from parents.”
Meanwhile, the school said the school was open as usual today and that steps were being taken to “minimise disruption”.
A spokesperson for Bollin Primary School said: “We are doing everything we can in our power to minimise disruption to the children’s school day and we are looking forward to spending time with Trafford Music Services, who are coming in to deliver practical music workshops across the school.
“We hope we will be able to resolve issues with staff and parents to avoid any future strike action.”
Update 10.30am: We understand that Trafford Music Services have not now visited the school today.