Second headmaster suspended

A SECOND Dewsbury high school head teacher was suspended this week pending a local authority inquiry into "management matters".

Steve Valentine, head at the Community Science College at Thornhill, the former Thornhill High School, was suspended along with college manager Adele Goodall.

News broke in the week that concerns were expressed over the cost of the longrunning suspension of David Roche, head teacher at Westborough High School in Dewsbury.

Mr Roche was suspended on full pay believed to be as much as £80,000 in April. Eight months later he remains at home while a series of allegations are investigated.

The Press understands that staff and parents have not been happy at how the Thornhill school has been run in recent months.

In July the public service union Unison became involved after allegations of bullying and intimidation of support staff and threatened strike action.

Twelve Unison members at the school held a meeting and unanimously backed a vote of no confidence in Mr Valentine.

Staff have claimed morale at the school is low and that complaints have been ignored by school management and governors.

In July Kevin Crowe, joint education steward for Kirklees Unison, sent a letter to the chairman of governors at the school, Mark Rowan, saying the union "remains in dispute" with the school.

The letter details two staff restructures which left one member facing redundancy and another a loss of hours.

The letter says: "We believe Mr Valentine did not follow council procedure...and our objections were put in writing.

"Unless the redundancy issue is resolved, Unison members have already voted to take strike action. This dispute is unnecessary and could easily have been resolved but dialogue has not been forthcoming.

"Our view is that staff morale is very low and support staff feel undervalued. They also feel very insecure in their positions given the sanctions that have been taken against existing staff members.

"We trust that our concerns and the members’ views will be heard alongside those of the teacher union colleagues."

Dewsbury South Tory councillor Khizar Iqbal did not know of Mr Valentine’s suspension when contacted by The Press yesterday.

He said: "There have been issues of concern raised with me previously by parents and I have written letters to the school for the last six or eight weeks without reply. Recently I have taken my complaints to the education department.

"I am concerned that as a local councillor I should have been informed of what was going on. It is important there is no disruption and that this does not drag on like it has at Westborough."

A parent, who asked not to be named, said parents were not happy. "There has definitely been some poor management at the school and a lot of exclusions. All the parents are talking about it."

In a statement Kirklees Council said: "Because of some concerns about management matters at the Community Science College at Thornhill, the governors requested the local authority to carry out an enquiry.

"An interim report has been produced and the governors, with the advice of the local authority, have agreed to suspend the headteacher and the college manager pending further investigations. David Powell will act as head teacher in the interim."

Meanwhile at Westborough the council says that a decision on Mr Roche’s future may be made before Christmas.

Mr Roche, who lives in WathuponDearne, South Yorkshire, was suspended by the then acting chairman of governors Iqbal Mohamed just before the Easter holidays.

Mr Roche was previously suspended at a former school in South Yorkshire but resigned before the investigation ended.

A letter detailing the allegations against him at Westborough was sent to Kirklees Council’s head of learning Caroline Gruen at the end of March.

The allegations related to Mr Roche’s management style and whether he fully explained his departure from a previous job to an appointments panel.

The Press understands that when the investigation was launched the LEA said it would take no longer than three months.

Mr Roche did not respond to our letter and chairman of governors Mrs Naseem Akram did not return our call.


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