Primary school head’s suspension confirmed

Christine Hollidge suspended from her job at All Saints School, near Axminster, after being signed off sick leave

Education officials have confirmed that the long-absent headteacher of All Saints Primary School, near Axminster, has been formally suspended.

Devon County Council revealed that the action was taken last month after Christine Hollidge was signed off sick leave.

In a statement to The Herald they said: “We can confirm that the headteacher has been suspended pending an inquiry into her conduct. Suspension is a neutral act.

“The inquiry is being conducted by the local authority on behalf of the governors at this Church of England school and the governors are following local authority and diocesan advice.”

A joint statement from Devon’s head of education and learning, Sue Clarke, and the Exeter Diocesan Director of Education, Philip Mantell, added: “We are well aware the school has been going through a particularly difficult time.

“We are very grateful to the acting head Martin O’Mahony and all the staff at All Saints for continuing to concentrate on the children’s education.

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“We are also very appreciative of the support of the vast majority of parents for the work the school is doing.”

Mrs Hollidge has been absent from her post for some eight months, having served as head at the 137-pupil school – rated “outstanding” by Ofsted - for some 27 years.

A public meeting in the winter 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 is 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.”

This week The Herald learnt that since being signed off sick leave the first phase of the investigation into Mrs Hollidge’s complaint of bullying has been completed.

A spokesman confirmed: “A hearing into the head’s complaints has taken place before an independent panel of governors. Their decision is not yet public.”