The entire teaching staff at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Primary School in Kingswood, England will need to be replaced before school resumes in the fall.
New leadership has led to the resignations of seven teachers this week, bringing the total up to 16 since the beginning of the year. The reason? Stress. The executive head of the schools has been demanding more from teachers, resulting in high workloads and high pressure situations.
The series of events started in 2016, when it was revealed SAT results for the school were below the floor standard and only 24% of students were at the required standard for reading, writing and math. The South Gloucestershire Council told its leaders it needed to improve and then head teacher Clare Murray left the school in April 2016.
One teacher told the Bristol Post “all of the teachers are leaving. We’ve had enough. Many of them were signed off with stress, and the pressure was unreasonable.” Teachers were told they needed to follow the head’s methods or they would not be welcome at the school.
Teachers have not taken the decision to leave lightly. They recognize the importance of the children having common teachers over the years and many have spent their entire teaching career at the school.
The unnamed teacher told the Post “leaving will cause them great emotional stress, because they share such a tight bond with the school, the children, the parents and the community.” They added that the decisions were especially difficult because “the students are lovely, and the parents are so supportive.”
Divisional secretary of the National Union of Teachers in South Gloucestershire, Kara Wheeler, told the Post “we were forced to intervene.” According to Wheeler, “it’s an impossible situation. Head teachers have a duty of care to their staff. We did a work survey and it came back really negative. We’re worried for the children.”
Despite the constant changes, improvements seem to be coming along for the district. Provisional grades showed that 77% of students would meet the standards this year. A spokesman for the council said “the school is rightly proud of the pupil’s achievements and the teachers and other staff have all worked extremely hard to make these improvements.”
Many new teachers have been brought in on temporary contracts and a new team including a new head teacher is being pulled together for the upcoming year.