Belfast Telegraph

Belfast parents protest over De La Salle College staff absences

Parents of children attending De La Salle College in west Belfast have held a protest at the school to highlight their concerns over staff absence levels.

The BBC has said at least 24 of the school's 70 staff were absent on Monday with parents saying the problem is affecting their children's preparations for forthcoming important exams.

It's understood there have been ongoing issues among the staff at the school since September.

In January a plan was drawn up and a strategy group established to "to address a range of issues raised by staff relating to the operation of the school".

Around 20 parents gathered at the school's gates in the Andersonstown area on Tuesday morning before some met with the principal.

One parent, Gerry, who spoke on the Stephen Nolan show said the problem had been brewing since last year and claimed nothing had been done to resolve the matter.

He said: "Now, when we come to the crisis they are saying something has to be done - to me it should have been dealt with long ago.

"This has to affect all the kids, it has to affect their performance. Absolutely I am worried about this.

"But it is not just the politicians who need to do something, it's the school and the CCMS.

West Belfast MP Paul Maskey said he was very concerned over the matter, although admitted he was not aware of all the issues.

He said: "Parents feel their children are not getting the education they deserve.

"This is a matter for the CCMS to resolve along with the school and the board of governors.

"We are talking about young people's futures."

A spokesperson for Council for Catholic Maintained Schools said in a statement: "When issues first arose a strategic group was set up, comprising the board of governors, the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools, and the following unions; INTO, ATL, NAHT and NASUWT.

"A strategic plan for renewal was devised by the group and work began immediately to implement this plan. The intention was, and remains, to resolve any internal issues within the school through the implementation of this plan. The immediate priority remains the full educational provision for all students in the school.

"We can assure parents that all interests in the strategy group are working together to ensure that there is no delay in this process and that there is total commitment from all to continue to work towards a resolution."

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