School governors resign en masse

Board stands down at All Saints Primary School amid growing speculation that suspended headteacher will return

THE entire board of governors at All Saints Primary School resigned last week – amid growing speculation that suspended headteacher Christine Hollidge may return to duties.

Chairman Ruth Tucker, 44, and her nine colleagues quit en masse expressing concerns for the school’s future.

Mrs Hollidge, 57, left her post late last year and, after a long period of sick leave, was formally suspended in June, pending the outcome of an inquiry into her conduct.

No details about the investigation have been revealed by the local education authority and the outcome has still not been made public.

Following the governors’ resignations a joint statement was issued by Devon’s Head of Education, Sue Clarke, and the Exeter Diocesan Director of Education, Philip Mantell.

It said: “We have accepted the resignation of the governors, although all the processes required by the confidential inquiry have not yet been fully explored.

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“In the interests of continuity, we have already begun the process of appointing a new governing body and can confirm that Martin O’Mahony remains as acting head teacher.

“He and the staff are working with the local authority and the Diocese of Exeter to ensure that, as ever, the quality of education that All Saints’ pupils receive is paramount and that children and staff can begin the new academic year in a safe, calm and stable atmosphere.”

Subsequently the education authority confirmed that a new board of governors has now been appointed.

The interim chairman will be Michelle Perryman and the board is due to meet for the first time this week.

Mrs Perryman said: “We are well aware this has been a very difficult time for the school. But we are all here to ensure the best possible education for the children we serve.

“We are grateful to Martin O’Mahony and all the staff at the school for the dedicated way they have ensured the children continue to enjoy their time in school and benefit from the outstanding teaching and learning. That dedication has been rewarded this year with our excellent SATs results.

“We will be working closely with Martin and the staff to build on the excellence the school has already achieved. We will also be liaising closely with the local authority and the Diocese of Exeter so that any uncertainties about the future direction of the school are removed as quickly as possible.”

Mrs Hollidge remains barred from speaking publicly about her position.

But her union representative, Steve Cleverly, of the National Association of Head Teachers, told the Herald he was surprised that the governors had resigned ahead of the inquiry being formally concluded.

“They appear to have abandoned following their own procedures which they initiated and which all parties were committed to,” he told The Herald.

“From Christine’s perspective she is looking forward to a time when she can return to school - and we hope that will be very soon - and continuing her work there, because it was rated outstanding in the last Ofsted report”.

A spokesman for the “concerned parents group” that has been fighting for Mrs Hollidge’s reinstatement welcomed the governors’ mass resignation.

Chairman Andrew Stuckey said they were now appealing to all former pupils and present and future parents to show their support for Mrs Hollidge’s return to her “rightful place as head of All Saints Primary School.”

He said: “ With the resignation of the board of governors it is now down to us to show we wish Mrs Hollidge to return .

“Amid all rumours heard and spread, people should only accept what is the truth. Although this information may be withheld, hidden or distorted beyond belief, I hope the whole story in the future will become public knowledge and will change rules to ensure this never happens again to any other unsuspecting victim.

“I believe, like many others, that Mrs Hollidge has given very generously over the past 26 years and in some cases too much!

“For those who have made their views known about not wishing to have Mrs Hollidge back I ask that they consider why they chose to send their children to All Saints in the first place.”

Mr Stuckey says people can contact him on 0797 747 2374 or e mail or write to him at 8 First Avenue, Axminster EX13 5EX

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