‘Veil of secrecy’ over missing headteacher

PUBLISHED: 11:55 21 March 2012 | UPDATED: 11:21 30 March 2012

All Saints School

All Saints School

Archant

Villgaers at All Saints demand to know the reasons for Christine Hollidge’s continuing absence

RESIDENTS in All Saints are demanding an official explanation as to why their headteacher is no longer at her post.

The sudden departure of Christine Hollidge, some four months ago - and her continuing absence - has left villagers angry and confused.

A public meeting last week heard that a veil of secrecy had been drawn over her departure, which was the subject of an on-going investigation.

The gathering was told it was rumoured she had made a complaint of bullying after clashing with officials.

“She took a decision that someone disliked, that’s my gut feeling,” said family friend Jim Ryder.

“There is an investigation but it can’t be completed because Christine if not well enough.

“She is profoundly shocked and deeply hurt and very much missing the children and very much looking forward to returning to work.

“But she is in a mess, in a bad way.”

The meeting was told that Mrs Hollidge was unable to speak to anyone about the on-going proceedings while the school governors and the Devon education authority were also barred form revealing any details.

A letter from the head teachers’ union, the NAHT, acting for Mrs Hollidge, was read to the meeting.

It said: “She is currently unable to communicate with you directly. She appreciates the cards and letters and is making good and steady recovery and looking forward to returning to the school in due course.”

Since Mrs Hollidge’s departure the school has been run by Beer head teacher Martin O’Mahoney and there are plans for the two schools to federate.

But the meeting chaired by parent Andrew Stuckey, expressed concerns that this might go ahead without local agreement.

And some parents were also concerned that changes were being introduced at All Saints School under the temporary new regime – like the introduction of red cards for discipline.

The children are unsettled,” said one parent. “My daughter doesn’t smile any more when she comes out of school.”

The meeting agreed to contact the education authority to demand to be told the full details of why Mrs Hollidge was not at her post.

They also agreed to look at getting up a petition and to ask Mr O’Mahoney not to implement any further changes until the current crisis is resolved.

• Mrs Hollidge has been head teacher at All Saints for some 26 years, taking over when it was facing closure because of low pupil numbers. It now has 137 children.

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