Eleven teachers leave Queen’s Park school in one term

Parents at a Queen’s Park primary school have launched a petition to remove a headteacher after 11 teachers resigned in just three months.

Michael Larkin took over as interim headteacher of Wilberforce Primary in September but has seen the majority of staff – who have been at the school for a combined total of 57 years – leave before the end of his first term.

Teachers claim Mr Larkin has made them carry out menial labour, work 13-hour days and set unachievable targets.

They argue that there is a “climate of fear” with a number of teachers taking sick leave as a result of stress and anxiety caused by the new regime.

One teacher told the Wood&Vale: “He has been completely heavy-handed and hasn’t taken any of our experience into account.

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“He says that everything he is doing is for the kids’ benefit. But it isn’t because they are losing their teachers and their stability.

“We were willing to change and work longer hours and harder to make the school a better place but all he does is tell us it isn’t good enough.”

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Teachers claim that Mr Larkin is looking to hit targets rather than improve pupils’ education. But they say they are not allowed to speak to him informally and must schedule an appointment with his office.

Zineb Serroukh, who has two children at the school, described the 11 teachers as “extraordinary and exceptional”.

“Wilberforce is not a failing school,” she said. “Former headteacher Angela Piddock dedicated 20 years to creating a warm and caring environment for children to learn in.

“Parents are angry – they feel that the changes have been aggressive and damaging.

Parents have told me that they no longer feel that Wilberforce is a welcoming school.

“We want these teachers to stay and ask that the relevant education officials take necessary steps to allow this to happen.”

Westminster Teachers Union has reported the headteacher to the General Teaching Council for unacceptable conduct.

Westminster Council says that the school was in decline prior to Mr Larkin’s appointment and it is “fully behind” the headteacher’s changes which they say have seen quick improvements.

Speaking on behalf of the headteacher, the school’s chairman of governors David Evans said: “The governors recognise the urgent need to raise standards and that changes are necessary to achieve that objective.

“We are aware that any process of change will be painful and remain committed to supporting the headteacher and staff during this necessary process.”

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