A Northern Ireland principal is determined to stay in her job despite a protest from parents and pupils which marked her return to work this week after a two-year suspension.
Dr Annabel Scott has been left “distraught” after parents this week vowed their children would not return to the school until she stood down as head, according to a teaching union.
Dr Scott was suspended from the Co Antrim school in 2010 following a report by the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) in February of that year which cited “unsatisfactory leadership and management” at the school and “serious shortcomings in the quality of pastoral care”.
Fern Turner from the Association of Head Teachers (AHT) — who has criticised the current schools inspections process as a “kangaroo court” — said Dr Scott is distraught at this week’s turn of events.
However, she has insisted Dr Scott will stay at the school.
“Most of her life, her working life, was served in Crumlin Integrated College, or Crumlin High School as it previously was,” Ms Turner said.
“She is absolutely distraught about what is happening. She is also distraught that a school which she helped to build up is basically being destroyed.”
Stanley Smith, who sits on the school’s board of governors, added: “As far as the (school’s) board of governors is concerned, Dr Scott will stay.”
Mr Smith had accompanied Dr Scott on Wednesday as some parents vented their criticism at the school gates, and met with the under-fire school head again on Thursday.
He said: “She and the vice-principal were walking around the school to meet the staff on her return.
“She wanted to get on with running the school.”
The North Eastern Education and Library Board (NEELB) board says a programme of training and support was agreed with Dr Scott and her union representative, and that she underwent “an intensive training programme to address the performance issues highlighted by the inspection”.
However, Ms Turner has hit out at Dr Scott’s treatment.
And she also criticised what she sees as a flawed schools inspection system.
Ms Turner said: “Many schools across Northern Ireland were deemed unsatisfactory in the present process. Many teachers and school leaders were deemed unsatisfactory.
“The only person to be suspended was Dr Scott.
“I think a huge number of questions need to be asked about the process as a whole. The Department of Education, the North Eastern Education and Library Board need to look at how they have managed the process.
“Training was provided for Dr Scott when she was first suspended. That training then stopped when the board moved from the competency procedure into a disciplinary procedure. No training was provided over many months for Dr Scott.”
Ms Turner added she had “huge concerns about the present schools’ inspections process and how it is being managed”.
While empathising with the school’s parents, she urged caution around any future protests. “The NEELB failed to share information with parents or prepare Dr Scott for a return to the school,” she said.
Inspectors found poor standards at school
Crumlin Integrated College was thrust into the spotlight again this week as parents protested against the return of the school’s principal.
Dr Annabel Scott was suspended for two years after a school inspection in January 2010 led to a critical report.
The report, published by the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) in February of the same year, identified “serious shortcomings in the quality of pastoral care” and “generally poor standards achieved by pupils”, concluding that the quality of education provided at the school was “unsatisfactory”.
ETI inspectors pledged to monitor and report on the school’s progress in addressing the issues raised over 12-18 months and Dr Scott was suspended for two years to receive intensive training.
A follow-up inspection in January found the school had improved its intake and enhanced the learning environment.
However, Fern Turner from the Association of Head Teachers (AHT) has said that while there were 310 pupils at the school when Dr Scott was suspended, that has now been reduced to just over 200.
During Wednesday’s protest, parents vowed their children would not return to the Co Antrim school until Dr Scott was removed from her post.
However, the under-fire principal is set to stay on, according to members of the school’s board of governors.