Belfast Telegraph

School officials urged to intervene over Annabel Scott threats

By Anna Maguire

The Department of Education is under mounting pressure to start sit-down talks with a school principal forced to flee her home after a second threat.

The headmistress of Crumlin Integrated College was forced to flee last week after receiving a sinister threat that a group of parents was going to call to her family home.

Dr Annabel Scott's life has been turned upside down since a damning inspection report in January 2010 led to her being temporarily removed and then officially suspended from the top post at the Co Antrim school.

She returned to the school two years later to protests by parents at the school gates – which was followed by a death threat via email. Dr Scott then left the school and she has not returned.

However, in September she reported a spate of threatening phone calls to police.

Danny Kinahan, UUP vice-chair of the Assembly's education committee, said the latest development in a long-running, traumatic ordeal for the Co Antrim woman must now trigger negotiations.

"They, the Department of Education and the North Eastern Education and Library Board, should be sitting down with all concerned, including Annabel, and trying to find a way out of this. They must find a way through this," Mr Kinahan said.

Enrolment at Crumlin Integrated College has fallen from 400 pupils when Dr Scott was in charge to 140 pupils in recent years. Just nine children started in the school's Year 8 in September.

A highly critical inspection report in February 2010, which was published by the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI), pointed to "unsatisfactory" leadership at the school and "generally poor standards achieved by the pupils". Dr Scott was removed temporarily.

However, "ineffective leadership arrangements" were again highlighted by the ETI in a report published in March this year, three years after Dr Scott left the school. According to the report, a follow-up visit by inspectors in November last year highlighted that leadership arrangements were "ineffective and frustrating the school from sustaining and building on the improvements being secured".

Fern Turner from the National Association of Head Teachers said Dr Scott has become the target for a deterioration in the school's standards, which happened after her tenure at the school.

"I feel people are lashing out at the wrong person," Ms Turner said. "I can understand people's anger and how worried and frustrated parents are, because it would appear they are going to lose the school."

Dr Scott is too unwell to speak publicly about her ordeal.

On Tuesday, the North Eastern Education and Library Board voted to delay a decision on Crumlin Integrated College's closure.

QUOTE

"I feel people are lashing out at the wrong person. I can understand people's anger and how worried and frustrated parents are, because it would appear they are going to lose the school"

Fern Turner of the Association of Head Teachers

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