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Beaulieu 'vote of no confidence' petition gathers pace

Beaulieu 'vote of no confidence' petition gathers pace

Tuesday 03 January 2023

Beaulieu 'vote of no confidence' petition gathers pace

Tuesday 03 January 2023


A petition set up by "concerned parents" calling for a vote of no confidence in the trustees, CEO and COO of Beaulieu Convent School has gathered more than 800 signatures since launching four days ago.

The school's senior management has recently been subject to fierce criticism on social media from some parents – and been subject to widespread rumours and speculation – after Head of School Andrea Firby left the convent just before Christmas.

The petition described Mrs Firby as "a stalwart of the Beaulieu community" and called for the "resignation by the CEO, the COO and the remaining trustees". 

The petition explained: "The actions we have seen are not in the best interests of the girls and do not accumulate to cost savings which is the reason we have been given.

"We therefore feel that there needs to be a resignation by the CEO, the COO and the remaining trustees and that Mrs Firby is reinstated as Head of School while the infrastructure is sorted out by a newly appointed emergency board of independents that undertake consultation with the staff, unions and parent consultant groups."

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Pictured: The petition has been signed by over 800 people in the four days since it was started.

Several parents have also said they will keep their children at home on the first day of term this Thursday in protest.

And the NASUWT issued a strongly-worded statement last week warning that it had no confidence in Beaulieu’s management structure, and voiced concerns over the ‘unusually high’ staff turnover and an ‘increasingly difficult’ working environment at the school.

It also questioned why a school of Beaulieu’s size needed both a Chief Executive (Chris Beirne, who is also headmaster) and a chief operating officer.

Meanwhile, the school has made a fresh appeal to parents to bring an end to "protest" and "campaigns" sparked by the departure of Mrs Firby.

In a letter to parents sent on 30 December, Beaulieu’s Board of Directors said that all decisions were made in the best interests of the pupils, and stressed that Mrs Firby had taken voluntary redundancy.

The school had previously stated that her departure was part of a process to streamline senior management to ensure it could further invest in frontline teaching. Mrs Firby, they said, did not teach secondary school classes and therefore her departure would have no "effect on pupils on a day-to-day basis".

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Pictured: Mrs Firby has been "the face of Beaulieu" for over a decade.

In the letter, the board said: "The continuation of campaigns, social media engagement and protest will seek to not only damage the school and distract from the learning and educational experience we are all here to deliver, but also may cause harm to all parties involved, including Mrs Firby, who has voluntarily chosen this route when leaving Beaulieu."

The directors also moved to quash rumours regarding the number of teachers who had left, and the school’s financial position.

"Like other organisations we face additional financial pressure at this time but we will continue to invest in our student-facing services; and the streamlining of the senior leadership team will help us to continue to do so, as well as delivering our dedicated staff a pay rise in 2023, in line with that which is due to be agreed by the Government of Jersey.

"We do confirm that whilst the school faces these financial pressures, we are not in a “dire financial position” as is currently being claimed.

"BCSL’S private financial statements are professionally audited and have been for some time. This audit process should bring comfort as to the financial soundness of financial management at the school over recent years," the letter added.

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Pictured: Mr Beirne, current CEO and Headmaster, is also planning to leave the school to retire in 2024.

The directors acknowledged that the school, like many educational establishments, was facing additional difficulties recruiting teachers, but said it was still "attracting" and "developing high-quality staff".

The letter continued: "There has not been a mass resignation of teachers at the school and rumours to the contrary are simply unfounded."

Explaining the process behind the decision-making at the school, the directors stated: "Any management decisions taken at Beaulieu are done so collectively by the board of directors, and the trustees (of which Chris Beirne is not one) bring oversight and consideration to any serious matters resulting in significant changes at the school. This was the case in this instance, and all decisions were fully discussed."

The letter added: "The timing and terms of Mrs Firby’s departure were reached by agreement, with her volunteering to take redundancy, and you may be assured that the trustees and directors have in this matter acted (as you would expect) with professionalism, compassion and in the best interests of the school, and importantly its students."

The directors said they would try to bring forward a planned meeting with parents, currently scheduled for 26 January, and that during that event they would give more information about the management team, and "endeavour to be as open as possible".

Express understands the school will be releasing an update statement later today.

READ MORE...

School calls for support from parents over staff departure

Beaulieu staff “rightly concerned about the decisions of senior management", says union

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